Growing Up (Age 1 to 10)
1. Born in a rural village, the poverty of his family and
influence of his maternal grandmother helped him nurture a
compassionate and hardworking nature.
2. Being Hardworking: He would tidy up the house while his
family was out to work, hoping to give his parents a pleasant
surprise when they got home. His experiences in boiling water,
cooking meals,chopping woods, herding cattles, ploughing fields
and so on, enabled him to focus on being practical rather than
3. Being Compassionate: Venerable Master's maternal
grandmother was a pious and devoted Buddhist who had a
compassionate heart. Being influenced by her, he never dared to
kill a mosquito, a fly, or an ant, and was very loving towards
small animals. He once took care of an injured chick until it
was able to lay eggs. Injured pigeons and squirrels could often
be found inside the Founding Master's House up at Fo Guang Shan.
The number of animals that have been taken care by him over the
past thirty years is hard to keep count of. Fo Guang Shan went
from a place where no birds laid their eggs to today's home to
hundreds of birds.
The Second 10 Years:
Learning (Age 11 to 20)
1. Having became a monastic at twelve, he began to live a
disciplined and regulated life within the monastery. The
Buddhist College's tough punishment and teaching methods that
gave no chance for reasoning allowed him to readily admit his
mistakes and even accept heartless punishments without making
2. Being penniless at this stage of life had fostered his habit
of "not buying." A letter written by him would sit there for a
year; it was never mailed out because he could not afford
postage stamps. When his socks were worn-out, he would glue them
with paper. When his shoes were damaged, he would use thick
paper and plank pads as substitutes. Poverty stimulates one's
wisdom. Therefore, no matter how adverse the circumstance is,
there is always a way to overcome problems and obstacles.
3. Treating nothing as everything in his life, he is able to
take on any hardship and pain. His three meals often were as
simple as just rice with tea. "One bowl of rice with one dish
and one soup." He has stuck to this principle throughout his
life. He never went on vacations and always seized every minute
by taking care of affairs on the road. Therefore, his idea of
living a 300-year-old life was developed during this period.
Acquiring Knowledge (Age 21 to 30)
1. Despite a lack of formal education, he has received a
succession of complete Buddhist education. He left the Buddhist
College at the age of twenty, and served as the principal of an
elementary school, where he learned about administration and
interpersonal coordination skills.
2. He attended talks given by Venerable Master Tai Hsu, became
acquainted with Venerable Tai Tsang, the abbot of Jin Shan
Temple, and acted as an interpreter for Master Miao Guo after
his arrival in Taiwan. He also discussed with Venerable Tzu Hang
the future of Buddhism, shared opinions with Venerable Da Shing
on the modernization and systemisation of Buddhism, and talked
to Venerable Tung Chu on issues such as "Benefiting oneself
and others," "Between the Traditional and the Modern Age," and
3. Between the age of 23 and 30, he visited various Buddhist
temples throughout Taiwan. He has taken many kinds of
transportation vehicles and received military invitation to give
Dharma talks to the armed forces of the land, sea, and air,
where he was escorted by military aircrafts and battleships.
Literature (Age 31 to 40)
1. When he began to propagate the Dharma in Ilan at the age of
twenty-six, he realized that it would be difficult to stand on
one's own feet in society without a special skill, therefore he
began writing as a means to spread the Dharma.
2. Becoming acquainted with literary faces is a way to promote
the Buddhist culture. Writers such as Kuo Si-fen, Gong Sun Yan,
Chu Chiao, He Fan, Gao Yang, Si-ma Zong-yuang and so on, all
became very good literary friends with him.
3. Besides writing, he also edited articles for magazines, wrote
for newspapers and composed scripts for radio broadcast
stations. He has written commentary articles to protect the
Buddhist religion. Master believes that it is every Buddhist's
responsibility to protect their religion, and a person should
have the morals and courage in letting the voices of Buddhism be
Philosophy (Age 41 to 50)
1. Venerable Master was named "the Literary Star of
Buddhism" during his earlier days for the works he had done, but
he knew very well that this acclaim could not grant him
validation in Buddhism. Just like how Venerable Master Man Shu
was never called Master Man Shu by the Buddhist Circles.
Therefore Venerable Master deems the need for a philosophical
2. Venerable Master invited scholars to give classes on
the philosophical thoughts of Chinese Masters such as "Lao-zi" and
"Chuang-zi" at the Buddhist College as a means to inspire
students with philosophical thoughts.
3. Venerable Master built the Fo Guang Shan Meditation Hall
in 1993 so that one can contemplate on issues about the
universe, life, birth and death and so forth while practicing
meditation. Academic Conferences are also held every year to
unravel, develop and sublimate thoughts through discussions
and explanations on the principles of Buddhist doctrines.
While diligently working on these himself, he also encourages
his disciples and devotees to participate.
History (Age 51 to 60)
1. He established Shou Shan Buddhist College in 1963,
founded Fo Guang Shan Monastery in 1967, and began sending his
disciples to study abroad one after the other, hoping that the
development of Fo Guang Shan would subsequently create history
for Buddhism and leave marks of achievements and merits in
2. The Tripitaka Editorial Committee was established in 1977
which published the Fo Guang Tripitaka with new annotations,
punctuation and paragraphs.It was also translated and published
in easy-to-read language known as Selected Buddhist Texts in
3. He was invited to serve as Director of the Institute of
Indian Cultural Studies at the Chinese Culture University, and
also to teach at the Catholic Tung Hai University for six years,
putting a stop to the restrictions placed on monastics to teach
in schools. Almost every university in Taiwan today has invited
Master to give classes at one stage or the other. He is now the
founder of three universities and sixteen Buddhist Colleges
4. He established Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA)
in 1992 for the globalization and localization of Buddhism.
Master travels around the five continents to propagate the
Dharma so often that he would circle the globe several times
within a year's time. The BLIA Lay Dharma Lecturers' System is a
demonstration of equality between monastic and laity,
thereby uniting the strength of both categories of Buddhists in
the hope of fulfilling the goal to let Buddha's light shine
universally, and Dharma stream flow across the five continents.
Moral Principles (Age 61 to 70)
1. Humanistic Buddhism requires humanistic characteristic,
humanistic ethics, humanistic order, and a start from the human
beings. All things should start from ourselves instead of
placing high expectations in others.
2. He held the Fo
Guang Family's Gathering for the parents of his
monastic disciples. Master sees them as the "in-laws" of
Buddhism, because they have dedicated their children to Master
to serve Buddhism. Hence, Venerable Master treats all parents as
his own parents.
3. He established the Benefactors' Association and regarded the
devotees as the "bosses" of Buddhism. He set up regulations on
welfare for the benefactors as a means to repay a debt of
gratitude for Buddhism on one hand, and on the other, allow the
devotees to be able to see Fo Guang Shan as their home for life.
4. At the age of sixty, Master invited thirteen thousand
sixty-year-old devotees to celebrate his birthday with him. He
believed that this world does not belong to him alone but
everyone.Thus, everyone should possess the concept of Oneness
and Coexistence and be a global citizen.
Buddhism (Age 71 and after)
1. Buddhism plays a key role to the achievement of world peace.
The biggest problems in today's world is war and terrorism,
which have caused panic and fear in everyone. In order for world
peace to be achieved, the practices of compassion, selflessness,
dependent origination, the Six Paramitas, Four Ways to Bring
Harmony, and cause and effect must be realized. All of these
are the invisible strengths to enhance peace in the world.
2. "Where there is Dharma, there is a way." What is the Dharma?
Humanistic Buddhism is the Dharma, and a compassionate guide
that leads one away from suffering. Humanistic Buddhism is also
a ray of hope to the world's future. In order to advocate
Humanistic Buddhism, promote modernization of Buddhist
teachings, encourage the study of Buddhist principles, and
establish thoughts on Humanistic Buddhism, Universal Gate
Buddhist Journal was published in the year 2001 to provide
scholars a place to publish their works on Humanistic Buddhism.
3. We all exist as one, and live a life that is eternal. What we
cannot complete in our present life can still be done in our
future lives. Life after life, Venerable Master has vowed to
serve all sentient beings and strive to achieve world peace. He
prays that all sentient beings will live a carefree and peaceful
life. The void and this world may have their limits, but the
strength of Master's vows is boundless.