Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Shi Dao Fu
The Director of Chinese Young Buddhist Association (CYBA)
Buddhism Across the Strait – Transmission between Taiwan and China….
Asia has been vastly influenced and transformed by Buddhism as at the East Asia and the Northeast Asia, people admire and practice the Mahāyāna Buddhism; whereas in Southern Asia, Theravāda Buddhism is the mainstream. Chinese culture is the confluence of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, but as a matter of fact, the latter two has been more or less transformed by Buddhism. Historically the Buddha Śākyamuni was born in India; however, the concepts and practices of the Mahāyāna Buddhism matured in Northeast Asia. This paper will focus on the inter dialogue and interrelationship being developed based on Buddhism across the Taiwan Strait Taiwan and its partnership with Mainland China in an attempt to envision Buddhism its impact and fruition in the near future on both shores. In 1949, the Nationalist Chinese government was defeated by the Communists and came to Taiwan. How did the Chinese monks purify the Sangha of Taiwan as it was influenced by the Japanese tradition? How did Buddhism press forward its way through the political martial time, flying high together with the Taiwan Economic Miracle? As Taiwan Buddhism harvests its reputation internationally, how does it adjust itself the structure and function to harmonize with the society nowadays? How will it go, through Buddhism, to reach religious reconciliation on both shores across the Strait?
To review and envision this topic, panel discussion and personal interview will be conducted as the available methods. Also some historical material, academic paper, and official statistics will be surveyed. This summer I was invited to Shanghai上海 as a guest to discuss the topic about Temple Revival, with experience distilled from this panel, together with observation made through this journey, which will be included into my paper in order to conduct meaningful research. Taiwan, with its outstanding location, situated at the doorway of the Taiwan Strait connecting the Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Though prominent geography as Taiwan is, it is not until the rival competition among those imperialists’ colonialism began at around seventeenth centuries, through their crucial war affairs, than to reveal the importance of owning the sovereign over Taiwan. The scope of this paper will be confined to the modern history of Taiwan, through the enhancement of its democratization, to roughly divide into five periods in order to further investigate that the role, function and influence played by Buddhism. Furthermore, via the bridge of Buddhism, through its interaction with contemporary polity, successfully transmits orthodox Han Buddhism across the Strait, enabling the link friendship alike to serve as a tight and constant connection between Taiwan and Mainland China. The timeline is therefore set as followings:
01 – 1895 1945 being the Japanese colony
02 – 1945 1949 returning to China
03 – 1949 1950 Nationalists retreat to Taiwan
04 – 1949 1987 Matrial Law
05 – 1987 1992 Lifting of Martial Law and start of democracy
06 – 1992 present Inter dialogue between two polity (Taiwan and Mainland China)
Role of Buddhism in Chinese History – Mircea Eliade (1907 1986), a Romanian historian of religion, regarded “sacred” and “profane”, as the universal criterion for religion to construct his theology. However, this theory encounters the dilemma that “There is nothing that is inherently sacred or profane. These are not substantive categories, but rather situational or relational categories (1988:55)”.2 Every phenomenon in the secular world is conditionally dependent exist, as the Buddha has instructed us. Thus religion could be understood as the way, by means of which people ask blessings for their present and future life (or life after). China has long been regarded as one of the most enduring culture in human history. Then, what is the dominant factor of its duration for over five thousand years especially its prosperity did not fade out in spite of all the challenges through history; and in fact, its influence is unmeasurable, still inspires global people nowadays to explore, to imitate. Here I would like to suggest the approach Buddhism could be the possible answer worthy our attention to the longevity of Chinese culture. Through the eyes of foreigners, they always call us Chinese people as “Lineage of Han” 漢族 Han Zu, or as “People of Tang” 唐人 Tang Ren. When checking up the Chinese history, we may find out that Buddhism was introduced into China in the Han Dynasty; whereas in the Tang Dynasty, most sūtras were brought into China and got translated during the so called “Golden Age of Chinese Buddhism” period. Actually Buddhism did strengthen and broaden the capacity and spheres of the Chinese Culture.
Although Chinese culture is the confluence of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, however, the latter two is more or less being transformed by Buddhism when Buddhism was first introduced into China about at 65 A.D.,3 hereafter it stimulates the consolidation of Daoism.4 Likewise, as confronting the huge and penetrating influence of Buddhism, the Confucianism called on its first revival in the Song Dynasty, the New Confucianism, absorbing the Buddhist concepts like 理 principle and 事 phenomenon to interpret and develop their philosophy and theories. Asia has been vastly influenced and transformed by two main traditions of Buddhism as at the East Asia and the Northeast Asia, people admire and practice the Mahāyāna Buddhism, namely the Han Buddhism or Chinese Buddhism (the North Tradition); and on the other hand, at the Southeast Asia, Theravāda Buddhism (the South Tradition) is the mainstream. This paper will focus on the inter dialogue and interrelationship being developed based on Buddhism across the Taiwan Strait, that the manifestation of abovementioned by means of Buddhism bridging between the Republic of China, Taiwan (ROC), and its partner the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China). With the attempt to envision that Buddhism, its impact and fruition in the near future in both shore. Therefore here I will not further elaborate on any Buddhist issues as concerned about other Asia areas.
Brief Introduction to Taiwan’s Modern History – Taiwan has undergone many times of sovereign transition in recent centuries, facing these different cultures, people in Taiwan have already successfully integrated them into a harmonious consolidation this could be accounted for that “Taiwan”, though perceived as diversity and miscellaneous from various dimensions, however, remains unique and attractive to visitors with the experience of splendid, unforgettable, and compelling “Taiwan Experience”. Reviewing the modern history of Taiwan, it has encountered the ruling under different imperial colonialists since the seventeenth century as by Spanish in the northern part, and Dutch the southern. Later on Dutch expelled Spanish colonists in 1642. Hereafter, a general came from China’s Ming Dynasty明朝 , Cheng Chen kung 鄭成功 (also known as Koxinga, 國姓 爺 ), who successfully invaded Taiwan and reigned over this island in 1662. As the descendent of Cheng failed to get recognition from the Qing Court 清朝 on mainland, the Ming loyalists were defeated in 1683 and hence Taiwan became the territory of the Qing dynasty. In 1895, being defeated in the first Sino Japanese war, the Qing ceded Taiwan to Japan under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (馬關條約 ). In China, the KMT (Kuomintang國民黨 , Chinese Nationalist Party) overthrew the Qing dynasty and founded the ROC in 1912. From 1937, after years of harsh fighting the Chinese successfully reversed the invasion from Japan to end the second Sino Japanese war in 1945, thereafter Taiwan again returned to the hold of the Chinese. However, the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai shek蔣介石 , lost the Chinese mainland to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and came to Taiwan in 1949; meanwhile Mao Ze dong毛澤東 , the chairman of the CPC, proclaimed the PRC (People’s Republic of China) on mainland China. It was not until 1993, did the two polities (Taiwan and mainland China), both try to break the ice and resume bridging their inter dialogue, with a landmark semi official talk was held on neutral ground, Singapore. Hence on, more and more communication, interaction and exchanges began to spring up and flourish in many fields, such as tourism, commerce, industry, education, culture, religion, etc.
Buddhism Development with the Democratization of Taiwan – Taiwan’s Buddhism, it may date back more than three hundred years, originated from the immigration of Han Chinese, who brought their beliefs from mainland China to this island during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Meanwhile in Taiwan, through the European Age of Discovery in the seventeenth century, its sovereignty was partially proclaimed by the Dutch and Spanish colonist, accompanied with their beliefs respectively: Catholicism was promoted by Spanish, whereas Protestantism by Dutch. At that time, the Han Chinese were the majority among the colonial populace, therefore their beliefs, such as Buddhism and Daoism, prevailed amongst local Taiwanese. Another popular belief, Zhai jiao 齋教 , or vegetarian religion, entered Taiwan during the mid Qing, which were mainly practiced by the unmarried or widowed women, for their ineligibility to tonsure without the permission from their family. Furthermore, with aboriginal beliefs (animism), the religious phenomenon manifested in Taiwan was abundant in diversity and prosperity at that time. In 1895, Qing territories in Taiwan were open to Japanese authority, and then in 1945 the complete island was occupied by the ROC and US allied forces, the religious map in Taiwan was thereby remodeled. Followings are the main events and its influence via the timeline of the democratization in Taiwan to investigate and outline that Buddhism across the Strait, including the role from “Chinese Buddhism” to “Taiwan Buddhism”, its proceedings from transmission, development, and thereby the transformation at a glance.
1895 1945 being the Japanese colony – Taiwan was open to Japan for colonalization in 1895. With the ambition to control Pan Asia, Japan intended to construct Taiwan as the supplement foundation for its seizing power over the East and Southeast Asia, and then further stepped to the goal of establishing the “Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere (大東亞共榮 圏 )”.5 With this ambition, Japan tried to summon and inspire the Taiwanese for their loyalty to the Japanese Empire under Buddhism, and simultaneously it suppressed Daoism, also other religions as well. Therefore Zhai jiao was under the pressure of the policy announcement issued by the Japan government, many adherents converted to Taiwan’s mainstream Buddhist communities during the era of Japanese colonial ruling (1895 1945). During this earlier period, the development of Buddhism, with the tolerance of local practices and beliefs from the officials, resulted in the prosperity of the local Buddhism its scale beyond their previously engaging circle.6 This phase was ended with the anti Japanese activities conducted by the adherents of the Xi lai an 西來庵 vegetarian, Yu Ching fang (余清芳 ), who summoned the revolt to against the Japanese governing in 1915. Following the second period, roughly from the end of World War I to the outbreak of World War II, with the Japanese government’s engagement of both the propagation of Japanese schools of Buddhism and establishment of “branch temples” in Taiwan were embarked and flourished at that time to further control the religious practices of Taiwanese. Meanwhile, the Buddhist educational institutions began to establish, with some selected students sent to Japan for advanced training.
However, with the polemic over the controversial precepts kept by some Japanese school monks, as allowance for monastics to marry, eat meats, and drink wines, which were totally forbidden to their Taiwanese counterparts. Therefore, some elite Taiwanese monks were sent to mainland China to get ordained, as wished and demanded by their master from the Han Tradition, in order to precisely transmit the “right dharma” from the Buddha. With regard to the third stage, its timing is marked as Japan launched invasion to mainland China (1937 1945), and was thereby defeated. During this last period, when more and more soldiers, as well as supplements were demanded sending from Taiwan, the Japan colonists promoted the Japanization cultural policy and adapted Taiwanese Buddhism as a tool to fit its state control stratagem. Thus indigenous Buddhism lost its autonomy during this period.
1945 1949 returning to China – With the surrender announcement made by Japan, Taiwan again returned to the fold of China at the end of the World War II. With KMT’s effort to construct its reign power along Chinese line, and the successive deportation of the ethnic Japanese and dismantling the Japanese political system, the Taiwanese have to adapt themselves to the new regime after fifty years of Japan’s ruling. No sooner the China’s civil war resumed in 1946, finally the KMT lost its control over mainland China in 1949. Meanwhile Taiwan, a revolt against the reign of the new KMT government broke out on February 28, 1947 (also known as the 2.28 Incident), causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people under the island wide suppression by the KMT army. Facing the transition of polity, Taiwan Buddhism had to find its appropriate role to comply with the contemporary dominant one. For example, the Taiwan Provincial Buddhist Association of China, established in 1921 with the name of “Nanying Buddhist Association (South Seas Buddhist Association, 南瀛 佛教會 )” under the Japanization movement, had a new name as above mentioned in 1946; then followed to rename the third time as name of “Buddhist Branch Association of the Taiwan Province” in the following year, after its initiating a membership into the BAROC (Buddhist Association of the Republic of China, 中 國佛教會 ). During the shift, the elite Taiwanese monastics, though trained well by Japanese education, was unable to spread Buddhism in Japanese. However, for the concern of Buddhism revival in Taiwan, some decided to promote Buddhist education in the Southern Fujian (Minnan) dialect, which was officially banned as the public discourse language.7 Therefore Ven. Ci hang 慈航法師 (1895 1954) was thus invited by Taiwan monastics, to reconstruct the Buddhist education in postwar Taiwan.
1949 1971 Nationalists setting up in Taiwan – in 1949, Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai shek brought his government from China to Taiwan and declared martial law.8 Some eminent monks fled with the Nationalists, while some others mixed with troops or refugees exiling to Taiwan. The former reestablished the BAROC, as supported by the ruling KMT, monopolized the right to transmit and certify Buddhist monastic lineage through the authorization of holding annual ordination conferred on one single temple. If any temple desired to hold ordination, it must make registration to BAROC in advance to arrange it based on an annual rotation, together with all the personnel needed: the preceptor, the karmācarya, the catechist, the seven witnesses, and all of the lecturers and deans were appointed by BAROC. According to the 1992 Gazetteer, “the first post 1949 ordination session was held under the BAROC’s supervision in the winter of 1953 at the Da xian Temple (大仙寺 ) in Chiay … The BAROC gave its official permission for the temple to hold the ordination session, and provided the other two ordaining elders.”9 Since then, as the comment made by Charles Brewer, that “Having the responsibility of running and staffing the annual ordination session gave the BAROC control over entry into the clerical ranks.” Thus the Sangha were filtered and purified with the “Precept Ordination Dharma Ceremony” granted by the BAROC, dissolving the dilemma and debate over chaotic ideology of Japanese precepts for its allowance of clerical marriage, eating meat, and drinking wine.
This institutionalization, together with some actions enacted, such as the selling off or rebuilding of many Japanese style temples, which successfully turned the polemic Japanese precepts into the orthodox Han tradition again. As for the postwar development of Buddhism, the BAROC, they had played a leading role until the reform of civil organization law (人民團體法 ren min tuan ti fa) in 1989, which opened the access to establish more Buddhist groups and hence on these groups ushered in the golden era of “Taiwan Buddhism”. After Mao Ze dong’s proclaimed the founding of PRC, he launched the Cultural Revolution (文化大革命 ) in 1966 and continued this campaign until 1976, to implant the ideology of Communism and to purge of all the Chinese traditional elements, such as the Confucianism, as well as all religions. Since Communism is atheistic, there was no wonder that religions suffered suppression and persecution during this cultural disaster. Buddhism was no exception. In 1954, the United States and the ROC sign the Mutual Defense Treaty. Though some offshore islands were still under attack from PRC, Taiwan was able to manage itself steadily toward the path onto democracy. Since the formal education was not very prevalent at that time, especially the higher education, the informal private Buddhist school did somewhat make up the gap. In Chinese families, it is very common to send girls to factory or have them bringing some artifacts home to make money to support their brothers got educated. For those who was unable to take the least chance to, or failed to pass the entrance examination, the Buddhist education therefore supplied an alternate for whom to become the intellectual, as a matter of fact, some were even so inspired as to take the vow and became the monastics.
In 1971, Chiang Ching kuo (蔣經國 , 1910 1988), son of Chiang Kai shek, assumed power as the premier, he promoted economic program, such as the infrastructure building program “Ten Major Construction Projects (十大建設 )”, etc. To encourage people, he declared some inspiring slogans like “Living room as the factory”, with promulgation programs to push economic boom enacted, which brought in the fortune in bloom, despite some diplomatic setbacks interfered during the 1970s. Meanwhile, some people went overseas and immigrated to other countries for fear that the rivalry between ROC and PRC, which would further result in war. Fortunately, it turned out that in 1979, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act to further safeguard the security of Taiwan. Consequently, China gave up its policy attempting to “liberate” Taiwan. Facing the predicament of diplomatic isolation and setbacks, the BAROC, under the leadership of Venerable Bai Sheng (白聖 ), made efforts through organizing or participating the international activities to openly advocate the Republic of China abroad, and fight against the depredations to all religions made by the atheist communist China, these endeavors strived for official representation among the international Buddhist organizations, including: the World Fellowship of Buddhists, the World Buddhist Sangha Council, and the World Chinese Buddhist Sangha Council; as well as for some informal international Buddhist events for increased Buddhist fellowship.
With the prosperity of Taiwan’s economy, one could trace the efforts made by the socially engaged Buddhist groups.13 The six vital Buddhist groups, all are well known for Taiwanese, their volunteers altogether are claimed to over 20% of the adult population, namely they are the Tzu Chi (Gong de hui, 慈濟功德會 Ciji Compassionate Relief Merit Society); Fo Guang Shan (佛光山 , Buddha Light Mountain); Fa Gu Shan (法鼓山 , Dharma Drum Mountain); Chung Tai Chan Szu (中台禪寺 , Zhong tai chan si); Chan World of Chung Tai, Ling Jiou Shan (靈鷲山 , Ling jiu Mountain), and Fu chih (福智 , Fu zhi). Tzu Chi and Fo Guang Shan were founded in 1960s, while Fa Gu Shan in 1970s, and Chung Tai, Fu chih, Ling Jiou Shan were in 1980s. Tzu Chi, its founder the Ven. Cheng Yen (證嚴 ), on seeing blood from a pregnant aborigine woman, who was unable to pay the deposit to the hospital, and sent away without any treatment, out of compassion Cheng Yen made a vow to establish a hospital in the east of Taiwan to take care of people whom are in need but unable to pay for treatment. Her charity engagement started with humble, to encourage her thirty followers to save fifty cents (USD 0.02) every day from their grocery money. However, the influence was unmeasurable through Tzu Chi, women became more confident and eligible in every sphere, either as a housewife at home or a volunteer in public, even the illiterate can do something for her family or for the society. Thus the enthusiasm, kindness of the Tzu Chi committee quickly spread over and to infuse, penetrate the society with charity and good wishes hence on, their endeavors embraced the whole society with harmony and inspiration.
Fo Guang Shan, led by Master Ven. Hsing Yun (星雲 ) was founded in 1967. They tried to promote dharma through utilizing new access and media technology available to disseminate the teachings of the Buddha, and successfully attracted people, especially at that time when more and more urbanization occurred around this island. The socially engaged Buddhism, an ideal promoted by Venerable Taixu (太 虛 , 1890 1947), was introduced and transmitted into Taiwan by his student, Venerable Yinshun (印順 , 1906 2005). This ideology proclaims that the Pure Land is right in “this earth”, and in “this lifetime”, not far away in remote paradise, only through the effort to purify one’s own mind and to benefit others, can we fulfill the betterment of the world, and eventually the manifestation of the Pure Land. Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴 ), the founder of Fagushan (Dharma Drum Mountain), in his early monkhood, he traveled globally to teach dharma until the death of his tonsured Master Dongchu (東初 , 1908 1977), then he returned to Taiwan to succeed to the abbot of Nung Chan Temple (農禪寺 ), where he attracted more and more followers to further develop his Buddhist enterprise. Fa Gu Shan is prominent in its academic performance, also famous for its ideal of “mental environmentalism”, and the “new six ethics”, aiming to construct a friendlier environment of ecology and of psychology. Currently its research program focuses on the “Chan practice with the brain science”, and the “Chinese translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts”, to enhance the dharma application in modernization and research in philological orthodoxy. In China, during the late 1970s, as Deng Xiao ping (鄧小平 ) seized power, had softened its policy on religion. “Freedom of religion was ensured in Article 36 of the constitution of 1982. The constitution specifies that the state protects ‘normal’ religious activities, but what the state considers ‘normal’ is not defined.”15 Nowadays, religions in China, five are officially recognized, these are: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity.
1987 1992 lifting of Martial Law – President Chiang Chinkuo pledged political reform in 1986. Hereafter the lifting of martial law in 1987, including a free press, lifting bans on new political parties, and the declaration of the Organic Act of Civil Organizations, these reforms initiated the new era of democratization of Taiwan. With the allowance for people to visit relatives or make tourism in China, the interactions across the Strait became much more often than ever. It turned out that the hegemony of the government patron BAROC declined, since the ordination certification was no longer a monopoly granted by them to one single monastery every year. A more open, pluralist propagation staged, either in politic or in religion, this ushered in the Golden Age of Taiwan. During this period, three distinguished socially engaged Buddhist groups emerged: (1). Chung Tai was founded by the Venerable Wei Chueh (惟覺 ) around in the mid 1980s. Famous for its Chan practice, together with its unique architecture compounds as a scenic spot for tourism in the central part of Taiwan. Its social engagement is basically focused on culture and education, and it more strongly emphasizes monastic life as compared with its counterpart groups, also it promotes the weekend practice of the Eight Prohibitory Commandments (八關齋 戒 , ba guan zhai jie) for its lay practitioners. (2). Ling Jiou Shan, was founded in 1983 by the Ven. Xindao (心道 ), and the following year the Wusheng Daochang (無生道場 , “no rebirth place of worship”). It a dvocates the interfaith dialogue between all religious traditions, as signified by its renowned “Museum of World Religions”. It promotes “Three Vehicle Buddhism”, and “life meditation” (生活禪 , shenghuo chan), i.e. applying the spirit of Chan in daily lives.
Fu chih was founded in 1987 by Ven. Jih Chang (日常 , 1929 2004). Though trained well in Chinese Buddhism, the Master he promotes the Tibetan text Putidao cidi guanglun (菩提道次第廣論 , The Extensive and Orderly Treatise on Perfect Wisdom), and it is ecumenical to other religions. This group promotes dharma through summer camps, education programs, publications, and its own organic food stores. Other religious groups, most of them practice Pure Land (just recite the Buddha’s name), or Chan Pureland (recite and meditate the Buddha’s name), or few study vinaya; some monastics promotes certain sūtra, like Avataṃsaka sūtra (華嚴 經 , Huayen School), Lotus sūtra (法華經 ), Mahāprajñāpāramitā sūtra (般若經), or study Yogâcāra (唯識 ), some have its own Buddhist school to train its adherents. While in the mainland China, as Trine Angelskar in his research “China’s Buddhist diplomacy” points out that “In the early 1980s China experienced a relatively large degree of liberalization in the politics of religion. This changed dramatically after the Tiananmen Square protests (天安門事件 ) in 1989. A second turn of events in the politics of religion became apparent in the wake of the Falun Gong (法輪功 ) protests in 1999 … A new, slightly softer course in the politics of religion was introduced when Deng Xiaoping seized power in the late 1970s. Freedom of religion was ensured in Article 36 of the constitution of 1982. … It is the CCP’s right to regulate religious institutions in minute detail.” Hereafter the Falun Gong incident “appears to have motivated Jaing Zemin (江澤民), the then president of the People’s Republic of China, to recognize for the first time in the CCP’s history that legitimate religions can contribute positively to social stability.” Since Buddhism is practiced earnestly by the Han ethnic majority, they constitutes 92% of the Chinese population, and are not so “religious” as other ethnic minorities do, i.e. Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang or Tibetan Buddhists (Esoteric/Tantric Buddhism). Moreover, there are accessible advantages for the CCP government to adopt Buddhism as its policy to propagate its influence in a more harmonious way, domestically and internationally.
According to the research made by Italian scholar Ester Bianchi, a scholarship sponsored by the Chiang Ching kuo Foundation, “The Restoration of Buddhist Ordination Procedures in Modern China: An Overview and Evaluation”, she said that “The dual ordination was introduced into China in 1949, however, it was ban. … The restoration of ‘proper’ ordination procedures in modern and contemporary China the first bhikṣu ordination took place at Beijing Guangjisi (廣濟寺 ) in 1981, Dec. 31 Jan. 1, 47 monk students of (中國佛學院 ) (Mūla sarvāstivād vinaya, 根本說一切有部 ). The first bhikṣuṇī ordination was held in Chengdu Tiexiangsi (鐵像寺 ) in January 1982 (Longlian, 隆蓮 , 1909 2006): nine ordinands.”The ‘dual ordination’ was held in Taipei in 1970, than it became a ‘widespread criterion in Taiwan’ beginning with 1976 (see Li Yuzhen); … now it is also well accepted and popular in the PRC, which commenced since the ceremony taken place in the Tiexiangsi in 1982.” The unification and standardization of ordination ceremony, as compared with the model of Taiwan, is equipped with more central control, authorized from the government onto the BAC (中國佛協 , Buddhist Association of China), which is obviously self evident:
(1). Ordination ceremonies have to be organized by local branches of the BAC and approved by the local Department of Religious Affairs and by the national BAC; Control over the number of ordinations (from five/eight in 1993/2000 to “about ten” in 2011) and of ordinands admitted for each ceremony (from 200 to 350 new monastics each time). (2). Ordination certificates (du die 度牒 ) should be printed and issued only by the BAC. In 1981, the Minister of Culture of Śrī Laṅka visited Beijing to suggest a “dual ordination” in 1982, intending to restore the Sinhalese bhikṣuṇīsaṃgha (比丘尼僧團 ), but it turned out that the Sinhalese nuns did not show up at last. Consequently, as the effort made by the American Buddhist activist nun Karma Tsomo Lekshe (Shakyadhita Buddhist Women’s Association), “the Sinhalese nuns, nuns in other Theravāda countries and nuns in the Tibetan tradition turned to the Taiwanese Buddhist saṃgha for ordination.”21 Thus the restoration of ordination nowadays could be regarded as the certification and connection among all Buddhist traditions and Buddhist countries, especially for those traditions losing the transmission of bhikṣuṇī lineage due to some historical factors.
As observed by Bianchi, “Information about Taiwanese, Singaporean and Hong Kong ordinations are posted on mainland China’s monastic websites.”, also as mentioned in Angelskar’s article that “The Beijing authorities hope that promoting Buddhism internationally will generate strong appeal among Buddhists in China. They also hope to build stronger ties to both Taiwan and Hong Kong.”. 5. 1993 now the inter dialogue between two polity In 1993, Taiwan and China broke their ice between, holding a semi official talk in Singapore. In the same year, Taiwan lifted ban on new radio stations and made the broadcasts aired in the Taiwanese dialect available. Next year, further allowance for establishing new television stations. In 2010, Ma Ying jeou馬英九 , president of the ROC, whose policy of economic rapprochement with China stimulated and furthered the interactions on both shores, this including the increase of air routes between, and the allowance for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan. In 1990, “Hua Fan Institute of Technology華梵技術工學院 ”, the first higher education institution officially established by the Buddhist monastic, commenced its enrollment since then. However, due to the restriction of regulation set by the Ministry of Education, no access then would be granted for study specified on Buddhism only. To dissolve these difficulties in studying Buddhism, Venerable Hiu Wan 曉雲 , founded the “Graduate Institute of Asian Humanities東方人文研 究所 ” in 1993, as the expedient means to integrate Confucianism, Buddhism and other cultural heritage into courses. Today in Taiwan, there are total six universities established by the Buddhist communities, they are: Dharma Drum法鼓 , Tzu Chi慈濟 , Fo Guang佛光 , Nanhua南華 , Huafan華梵 , and Hsuan Chuang 玄奘 University.
Since the open up for new satellite television, there also had been a boom of Buddhist station establishment, till now, there are seven stations in number, they are DaAi (Tzuchi) 大愛 , Tzu Chi education, Beautiful Life (Foguang) 人間 , Life 生命 , Huazan 華藏 , Universal Culture法界 , Buddha Compassion 佛衛慈悲 . Also there is on line television sponsored by Dharma Drum, as well as many ones by other Buddhist communities. A newly established on line Buddhist college Miao Jyue 妙覺 launched in September, 2015, providing courses on Buddhism study and related fields. It is noteworthy that Huazan, lectured by Venerable Chin Kung 淨空 , with service available throughout twenty four hours, has successfully made its way reaching five continents to disseminate the dharma. Another eminent monk Hai Tao海濤 , the president of the Life television, is popular in both shores to deliver the Buddha’s teaching.
Another distinguished phenomenon in Taiwan is that all religions could have its own right to voice aloud to the public and fairly develop itself in this island. Take Buddhism for example, either the various schools preached by Tibetan monks in exile, or the teachings delivered by Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Thai teachers, all are indiscriminately embraced with the loving kindness and generosity of the Taiwanese, and thus they could have its own stance, as well as followers to support its finance and organization. This is the manifestation of the spirit of “Humanistic Buddhism”, as espoused by Ven. Yin Shun, which is well transmitted from the Dharma Master Tai Xu declared in the 1920s. In 1976, Mao died and the “Gang of Four” members were soon arrested, despite Hua Guofeng (華國鋒 ) was then appointed by Mao as his successor, it was Deng Xiao ping who gradually seized the political power. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong, ended its colonial rule by British for ninety nine years and returned to China again under the so called policy of “One Country, Two Systems” formula, to get unification with China as claimed by Deng. In 1989, the Tiananmen Square protests broke out, then likewise the Falun Gong protests in 1999, which respectively aroused earnest and fierce debate on “humanity” and “freedom of religion” on an international scale. As the remarks made by Roman Malek about the strategy utilized by China to marginalize Dalai Lama and the Tibet exiled government, he said that “Both in the Chinese empire and in the modern Chinese state, it never was and still barely is tolerated when a spiritual leader claims any kind of authority independent of the head of the state, especially when that spiritual leader resides outside the realm of state control.”,23 here it seems to remain the same in this regard. Likewise, in spite of that China initiated the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006, it turned out that only Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was not invited. Then as seen in the fourth conference hosted by China in 2015, Panchen Lama, with other elder representative monks came from different traditions, attended this Dharma banquet. These arrangements did sharpen the contrast between.
In coping with these controversies, China managed to switch its attitude in order to press through all these hardships, and aimed to project itself as a sponsor of creating a harmonious society, Buddhism, was therefore the answer to China. In 1992, with China’s policy to “reform and opening up”, there was a scene abundant in prosperity resulted from religious revival. As was the case, many investments favored on building Buddha stature were simultaneously under construction, in either part of the China, molding the image of Buddha Śākyamuni, or Amitâbha, as well as of Bodhisattva Avalokitêśvara (觀音 ), Samantabhadra (普賢菩薩 ), or Kṣitigarbha (Earth store, 地藏 ). In 2006, China hosted the first World Buddhist Forum in Zhejiang, with approximately 1,000 monks and scholars from 35 countries attended. Hence on, China has continuously hosted another three World Buddhist Forums, in 2009, 2012, and 2015 respectively. Another noteworthy phenomenon is that the information about Buddhist events, as occurred in Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong (i.e. ordinations), are posted on China’s monastic webpages for further reference. In 2006, Xi Jinping (習近平 ) was the then party secretary of Zhejiang, organizing the first World Buddhist Forum, where Ye Xiaowen (葉小文 , Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs) described Buddhism as “an ancient Chinese religion and China as “a great Buddhist nation” in his speech given for the forum. However, the Chinese Jasmine Revolution in 2011, and the later Hong Kong Umbrella Movement protests in 2014, indicating the fact that cries for pro democracy from the people is urgent and needs to be resolved.
Why is Buddhism? – In China today, Buddhism is selected and supported by the government as their “soft power” strategy outreaching, both domestically and internationally. Though the Buddha Śākyamuni was born in India, the concepts and practices of the Mahāyāna Buddhism developed most and became matured in China. Through the result of some investigations recently, we may see how the Chinese Buddhism, namely, the Mahāyāna Buddhism it works. As from the list of “Top Ten Safest City to Live in the World”, conducted by the website Lifestyle 9, we may see there are five Asian Cities listed among the top 15.24 And as the list of “World’s Top 30 Best Countries To Live In 2015”, Taiwan is awarded as No.12, with the comment given that “People of Taiwan are more friendly, kind hearted and well mannered”.25 Other Asian cities alike, as much influenced by the Chinese culture,26 all fit well into the ten classification of the website’s parameter index. Why these Asian countries/ cities have done so well? They are all the regions civilized or influenced greatly by the Chinese culture, especially the Mahāyāna Buddhism. Since “wisdom” and “compassion” are two pillars of the Mahāyāna Buddhism, visitors in those cities can easily find kindness and joyful friendship there to help them, and so forth, the habitants there are contented and lead a happy life. Another vital doctrine in the Mahāyāna Buddhist mind is the principle of cultivating merits through “compassion (慈 ), loving kindness (悲 ), sympathetic joy (喜 ), equanimity (捨 )”. Therefore, to understand the characteristic of Han people in terms of their peace, harmony, amenities, and industry, the Chinese Tradition (Mahāyāna Buddhism) is the critically effective approach.
Buddhism in China Today – On campus during this semester, I was surprised at the boom of summer camps held for Buddhist study, all were sponsored by China, to offer up to ten Taiwanese graduate students their roundtrip tickets, tourism and accommodations. In this summer vacation, I was invited to Shanghai to attend a panel discussion on theme of “Temple Revival”. They mentioned about the recent Buddha statue construction, though commercially benefited, however, the founder passed away soon. They supposed this should be blamed for that the founder his intention had been aimed at making money. Since then, they earnestly wish help from Taiwan to purify their over commercialized Buddhism. In visiting the famous Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, after a brief talk with the abbot, the receptionist enthusiastically introduced us about their ongoing plan for further development. On that day, inside the temple, there were many foreign tourists, but far few less local visitors did I see, and some foreigners ask to take photo of me since I am a monastic. The receptionist said now they open to visitors till 9:00 PM, compared with earlier 5:00 PM allowed officially. They practice Chan, sometimes reciting name of Buddha, at times they investigate ‘critical phrase’ or ‘principal theme’. He also showed us their media department, however, there still ban on any broadcast or television, only publishing available. They want to broaden their temple compound in order to accommodate more practitioners, as well as more functions. So they ask the government to help remove inhabitants there, with some payments offered, to carry out their expanding plan. This reminded me that in 2013, I attend the 13th Sakyadhita International Conference in India, where I met the representative team from China. Could be the hindrance of language, they showed little interest to exchange ideas and opinions with others, instead, they insisted that they should sit altogether; after adjustment done, they sang many inspiring songs so loudly that one foreigner unhappily reminded them “This is not temple!” to shut them down. Thus it seems that today Buddhism in China remains somewhat bureaucratic in some way or another.
Conclusion – In China nowadays, the male is outnumbered than female; this is mainly resulted from the one child policy since announced in 1978, and enacted in 1980. Therefore it is understandable that in mainland China, the male monastics still hold the high positions. Comparatively, in Taiwan the female monastics are far outnumbered than the male, and some are very influential, like the founder of Tzu Chi, the charisma Master Cheng Yen. In campus, the Buddhist study in China still needs to adapt itself to the rubrics of philosophy study since being a part of the institution. All religious activities should apply and register under the good will to promote the ideological patriotism to CPC. It seems that Buddhism in China, still has long way to go, however, with people become more educated, more spiritual in demand, also more and more interactions took place in both shores, and furthermore, with the pace of modernization and democratization speeds up, it is hopefully prospective for the future development of Buddhism in China. Xi Jin ping, the current President of PRC, has been keenly promoting Buddhism to enhance social harmoniousness for his people since he took the power in late 2012. Nowadays, it seems that China, both the government and its people, is now aware of and alert to the advantages brought by Buddhism, aside from the enhancement of morality and spirituality, that is to say, what more expected is of politics and economics. Therefore, Buddhism has to bear much more responsibility than ever, as the potocol favored and patronized by the Chinese government. The first summit meeting of Ma Ying jeou and Xi Jin ping, presidents of ROC and of PRC respectively, was held recently on November 7, 2015 in Singapore, both them reached the consensus to enable both polities, though separated for sixty six years, their further cooperation based on a more mutual trusted level, this surely will lead a new era with fairly open, friendly and yet more competitive relationship across the Taiwan Strait. In this regard, only through Buddhism “the ancient Chinese religion”, with its positive ideas such as wisdom, compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy, equanimity, and altruism to moderate and harmonize both shores, can we attain “a great Buddhist Union” the Great Union (世界大同 ), this is the ideal world dreamed by all Chinese.