The revered monk Venerable Chi Gung, a venerated master of the Pure Land tradition of Mahayana Buddhism and a leading voice in contemporary Buddhism for interfaith harmony and peace, died in the early hours of Tuesday morning in Taipei at the age of 95.
Born Yae-Hong Hsu on 15 February 1927 in Anhui Province, China, Master Chin Kung went on to become one of the most important figures in contemporary Chinese Buddhism.
He grew up in Fukien Province until 1949, when he traveled to Taiwan and worked at the Shihchien Institute. For the next 13 years, he studied Buddhism and philosophy in his free time under the guidance of Prof. Tung-Mei Fang, Master Jia Chang, and Elder Teacher Bing-Nan Lee.
in 1959, Hsu was ordained as a monk at Linji Temple in Taipei, receiving the Dharma-name (Chin Kung (淨空), which means “Pure Emptiness.” Although he dedicated his life to propagating the teachings of Pure Land and the Avatamsaka Sutra, Master Chin Kung also studied the teachings of many other philosophical and religious traditions, espousing the philosophy of “kindness, fraternity, sincerity, and humility” in the spirit of “all gods are one, religions are one family; treat them as equals and live in harmony.”
Master Chin Kung has traveled and lectured extensively, particularly in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Australia, where he founded a major Buddhist university for aspiring monastics.
For more than 50 years, he taught and lectured on the Avatamsaka Sutra, as well as the Lotus Sutra, the Surangama Sutra, the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, the Platform Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and the five Pure Land sutras, among many other texts ands treatises.
Master Chin Kung founded Hwa Dzan Monastery, the Hwa Dzan Buddhist Library, Hwa Dzan Lecture Hall, the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan, and established Pure Land learning centers all over the world.
In 2001, Master Chin Kung established the Pure Land Learning College Association in Australia to train Dharma teachers to continue the propagation of Buddhism. He also supported the Buddhist Educational Foundation at Sydney University and sponsored the project of the Institution for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland.
An early proponent of using technology to spread the Buddha’s teachings, temples in the lineage of Master Chin Kung can be found throughout East and Southeast Asia, as well as in the West.
For his achievements in advocating interfaith harmony and world peace, Master Chin Kung was awarded honorary doctorates and professorships by the University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia; and by Syarif Hidayatullan State Islamic University, Jakarta. He was also the Honorary Founding Patron of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland. In 2005, he was honored with the Member of the Order of Australia medal by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 2009, Master Chin Kung was made an international trustee of global NGO Religions for Peace. In 2017, the Association of Chin Kung’s Friends at UNESCO was established at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris to “promote religious unity, restore religious education, and promote traditional culture.”
Since the late 1990s, Master Chin Kung initiated and participated in interfaith forums around the world, speaking on the importance of education. He emphasized that all religious teachers should work sincerely to act as role models for all by practicing the teachings of the sages and saints in their daily lives, study deeply the teachings of their own religious traditions, and humbly learn from other religions.
The central theme of Master Chin Kung’s Dharma teachings was an abiding message of loving-kindness and compassion for all beings, as he dedicated himself to help all beings to attain long-lasting happiness and joy.