Tens of Thousands mourners gathered in Taiwan’s southern coastal city of Kaohsiung last week for the funeral of the influential Buddhist monk and teacher Venerable Hsing Yun. The 48th Patriarch of the Linji school, the founding patriarch of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order and the Buddha’s Light International Association in Taiwan, and a leading figure in the Humanistic Buddhism movement died on 5 February at the age of 97.*
The funeral ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. on 13 February, was attended by Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and premier, Chen Chien-jen, along with Kaohsiung’s mayor, Chen Chi-mai, the chairperson of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Eric Chu, and Minister of the Interior Lin Yu-chang.
While a simple ceremony befitting a common monk was conducted, in accordance with the late master’s wishes, throngs of mourners gathered for the occasion. Many of those who attended to pay their respects to Ven. Hsing Yun observed the proceedings via large screens set up outside Fo Guang Shan’s Cloud Dwelling Building, where the funeral ceremony was held.
Monastics of Fo Guang Shan led a solemn procession, escorting the remains of the venerable teacher around the monastery grounds, during which many admirers and followers bowed or prostrated in gestures of affection and respect.
One attendee, identified only by her surname, Lee, told local media that she had taken a day off work to attend the funeral, expressing admiration for Ven. Hsing Yun’s “contributions to society and efforts to bring people closer to Buddhism.” (Taipei Times)
During the ceremony, President Tsai presented Ven. Hsing Yun with a posthumous Presidential Citation Award in recognition of his “far-reaching impact and contributions to the state, society and religious life” of Taiwan. (Taipei Times) She offered praise for the venerable teacher’s work to promulgate the Buddhist teachings throughout the world through the establishment of 300 monasteries and five universities.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen presented Ven. Hsing Yung with an Honorary Citizen Award, while KMT Chairman Chu bestowed the Highest Recognition of Outstanding Contribution Award.
After a procession around the grounds of Fo Guang Shan before the tens of thousands of monastic and lay devotees, Ven. Hsing Yun’s remains were presented before an altar of flowers and a large image of Shakyamuni Buddha as senior monastics made incense offerings in groups of three.
The cremation ceremony began at exactly 2:22 p.m., with final words shared by Fo Guang Shan Abbot Hsin Bau. Ven. Hsing Yun’s remains were later interred at Fo Guang Shan’s Fo Guang Shan’s Longevity Garden.
Ven. Hsing Yun was born in Jiangsu Province, China, in August 1927. At the age of 12, he was tonsured at Nanjing Qixia Monastery, and received full ordination at the age of 15. He graduated from Jiaoshan Buddhist Academy in 1947. In 1949, at the age of 22, Ven. Hsing Yun relocated to Taiwan, where he would go on to found Fo Guang Shan in 1967 in Kaohsiung, southwestern Taiwan, with four guiding objectives: to propagate the Dharma; to foster talent through education: to benefit society through philanthropy; and to purify human minds through spiritual cultivation and practices.
Ven. Hsing Yun is popularly known in Taiwan as one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Buddhism, the others being: Master Cheng Yen of Tzu Chi; Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain; and Master Wei Chueh, founder of Chung Tai Shan. These four global Buddhist orders, correspondingly known as the “Four Great Mountains,” have grown to become among the most influential Chinese Buddhist organizations in the world.
* Fo Guang Shan Founder and Leading Light of Humanistic Buddhism Ven. Hsing Yun Dies Aged 97 (BDG)
President, premier attend Buddhist master’s funeral (Taipei Times)
President, premier attend funeral of Fo Guang Shan founder Hsing Yun (Focus Taiwan)
Taiwan’s Fo Guang Shan founder Master Hsing Yun’s final farewell (Taiwan News)
Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Fo Guang Shan (Facebook)
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