Since its establishment in 1967, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order has evolved from a small monastery atop a mountain of bamboo forest to become the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. It has also become an internationally recognised site of pilgrimage under the guidance of Venerable Master Hsing Yun. Master Hsing Yun has inspired the selfless devotion of over 1.000 ordained disciples as well gained the ardent support of many lay devotees to assist him in bringing faith, happiness, hope and convenience to others.
1. To Propagate Buddhist Teachings Through Cultural Activities
To promote Buddhist cultural traditions and teachings the Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Education Foundation hosts a number of domestic and international academic conferences as well as provides world Buddhist examinations. Fo Guang Shan Publishing Houses sponsors the regular publication of the periodicals "Awakening the World," "Universal Gate" and an ever-increasing series of Buddhist books, CD's and DVD's. The Tripitaka Compilation Department has issued a 16-volume Agama Sutra Collection, 8-volume Fo Guang Buddhist Encyclopaedia and 51-volume Ch'an Collection. To encourage followers to immerse themselves in the sea of Dharma, libraries and bookstores are available at the main monastery and various branch temples. For further dissemination of Dharma to a broad spectrum of listeners, Fo Guang Shan provides public lectures, radio and television programs. And often, when public lectures are held, even Fo Guang Shan's modern and very large-scale facilities are taxed to the point of overflow!
2. To Foster Talent Through Education
In order to meet its ideal of benefiting society through the fostering of both religious and secular talents. Fo Guang Shan sponsors an educational system with two main streams: monastic education and secular education. The former includes the Chinese Buddhist Research Institute, Fo Guang Shan Tsung Lin University, East Buddhist College and Advanced Study Department. Students from various parts of the world enjoy free tuition, room and board. Graduates have a wider number of choices, including further study abroad, teachings posts, or service at branch temples. The secular education includes children at affiliated kindergartens and Pumen High School, adult education at the Ruban Buddhist Study Class, Devotee's Seminar, Short-term Monastic Retreat and Buddhist Summer/Winter Camps for teachers and college students. Full Ordination Ceremonies have been held five times to prepare candidates for membership in the Buddhist order.
3. To Benefit Society Through Charitable Programs
Based on the Buddha's teaching of loving kindness and His desire to rid the world of its suffering, the Fo Guang Shan Compassion Foundation assists the poor, sick and homeless by providing free medical care at the main monastery and by dispatching mobile clinics to remote villages. It distributes clothing and food supplies to the rural poor through the annual relief campaign. It encourages the release of captured living creatures, and advocates body organ donation. The Compassion Foundation has facilities to take care of anything from birth and old age to sickness and death. The Tatzu Children's Home was set up for needy and orphaned children from Taiwan and other countries. The nurturing of constructive thought, self-esteem, and positive appreciation plays an important role in the daily upbringing of these children. The Fo Guang Shan Retirement Home was established to provide a peaceful and quiet environment for retired devotees while the Lan Yang Senior Citizens Home has for the past 30 years given shelter to more than 820 chronically ill and destitute seniors above 70 years old.
4. To Purify Human Hearts and Minds Through Buddhist Practice
Based on their sense of gratitude towards the Buddha, country, parents, and all living beings, resident monastics and lay devotees at Fo Guang Shan rise at 5:30am daily to conduct the morning services of chanting and prostration. In addition, one-day, three-day or seven-day retreats are held frequently at meditation centres affiliated with Fo Guang Shan for monastics and laity. Throughout the year there are regular scheduled and special incantation ceremonies that include but are not limited to services involving Amitabha, Bhaisajya-guru, Sakyamuni's Birthday, Great Compassion Chanting, and the Peaceful Lantern Festival. The programs of sutra recitation and lectures associated with these various ceremonies assist those attending in the diligent practice of Buddhism, the cultivation of self-imposed attitude, the roots of benevolence and the generation of wisdom. Also there are pilgrimages often organised to Fo Guang Shan from all over the world. During these visits devotees are given Dharma lectures and classes on Buddhism in the hope of effecting an inner spiritual transformation.