Hsing Yun

Taiwanese Buddhist monk (1927–2023)

Hsing Yun (星雲大師; Xīngyún Dàshī; 19 August 19275 February 2023) was a Buddhist monk in Taiwan. He was the founder of Fo Guang Shan. Hsing Yun was considered a major proponent of Humanistic Buddhism and one of the most influential teachers of modern Taiwanese Buddhism. In Taiwan, he was popularly referred to as one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Taiwanese Buddhism, along with his contemporaries: Master Sheng-yen of Dharma Drum Mountain, Master Cheng Yen of Tzu Chi and Master Wei Chueh of Chung Tai Shan.

Hsing Yun in 2012

Quotes edit

  • Both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family. There are no Taiwanese in Taiwan and Taiwanese are all Chinese. Which Taiwanese is not Chinese? They are Chinese just like you are. We are all brothers and sisters. The more (cross-strait) exchange we have, the more mixed we will be. Then we won't be able to distinguish who's Mainland and who's Taiwanese — and we will naturally become unified.
  • Our heart is like a factory. This factory can produce joy. It can also produce worry. If you can produce worry to make yourself unhappy, why don’t you produce joy instead? Many of our worries are much ado about nothing.
  • I don’t think “poor” or “rich” should be defined by how much money one has. People with money are not necessarily rich. Some suffer from moral bankruptcy. In my opinion, the world is filled with poor people with money. How so? Because they don’t sow. They are not willing to think about others. Some people, even though they’re without money, they often help others. These people are rich. My personal philosophy is: Not having is the best state to have, and cultivating a big heart is the way to have lasting inner joy.
  • Exposure to an appropriate amount of hardship is healthy for one’s growth. Parents should not spoil their children if they want their children to grow up to be resilient. Nor should young people spoil themselves. There is an ancient Chinese poem that describes the life of limestone. The raw limestone endures thousands of strikes to be dug out of the deep mountain, after which it is burned in scorching flames without ever flinching and then ground to dust without ever complaining, just so it can fulfill its destiny to become lime. If one wants to make his or her mark in the world, he or she must be able to withstand hardships like raw limestone. Young people nowadays are referred to as the “strawberry generation”, which means they lack spiritual vitality and a sense of mission and tend not to give much thought to personal growth or what they want to achieve in their lives. Endurance, wisdom, benevolence, responsibility and confidence—these are the qualities which give us strength and which we should work to possess.
  • If you have resentment in your heart, you’ve only got yourself to blame. If you could understand it’s not any outside thing but your own attachment or greed that causes the resentment in the first place, you would be able to let go of the emotion. If you have time to be angry, you might as well use that time to do something good for society, right?
  • Embrace the vow of compassion to deliver all beings,
    Float like an untethered boat in the Dharma sea.
    Ask me what merits have I over a lifetime,
    They are the Buddha’s Light across five continents.
  • Having marched through life for close to seventy years, I am but an ordinary monk who deems “preaching the Dharma a daily duty and benefiting all living beings a lifetime career.” Whatever transpires in the outer conditions, I have always felt profoundly blessed to be in the favor of the Buddhas from the ten directions and with the affinity of all living beings. With them watching over and caring for me, I have been able to carry out the sacred mission that pertains to a monastic little by little.
  • Just as we get sick physically, the earth is sick too. When people are sick, they need to be treated and saved. When the earth is sick, it also needs everyone to care for it and save it. To save the earth, we must begin with environmental preservation. On the other hand, the protection of nature depends on humanity to self-awaken, which also starts with preservation of the spiritual environment.
  • Buddhism advocates that all living beings possess buddha nature; and that both the sentient and insentient possess the potential to attain Buddhahood. As mountains, rivers, grass and trees will all attain Buddhahood, thus Buddhism advocates no killing, thus no deforestation; no stealing, thus no unlawful logging. The Buddhist doctrine of equality views all beings as equals, and advocates that not only do humans and animals deserve love and care, mountains, rivers and the great earth also need to be protected.
  • Places with water mean survival, places with water mean prosperity, and places with water are more suitable for communities to flourish. In this world, not only is the Sun important. The reason that humanity is able to surpass other animals in survival is because they discovered fire, which is extremely important to a civilization. No living creature in this world can live without air, just as has been said, “Life exists between each breath,” without the flowing of wind, there will be no air, and all forms of life will suffocate to death.
  • Today, as members of the global village, we are all responsible for caring for the continuous existence of the global village. Because the Dharma clearly explains that sentient and non-sentient all exist “because there is this, there is that. If this is not, then that will not be.” Thus we coexist as one. Thus, within the continuous flow of change, even something as tiny as a speck of dust has a subtle relationship with the environment. While there is no doubt that we should strive to eliminate the dusts in our inner world and change them, we must also raise people’s awareness and take action to preserve the external environment. Not only is the 21st century the era of environmentalism, it also will be a beautiful era of purified minds.
  • As time progresses, human minds and civilization also continue to advance, it has become a trend for members of society to volunteer themselves. The work of a volunteer is different from that of general paid job which expects money and reward. Volunteer work on the other hand, focuses on happiness, joy and establishment of good connections, which is rather different from the former.
  • I used to urge that “everyone be a police,” so that they can help the police to keep order in a society overflowing with chaos and problems. The best way for a nation or society to improve is for everyone to be a police. A police is like a guardian who also shows the bodhisattva spirit. Therefore, not only are compassion and initiative required to practice the bodhisattva path, one also needs to do so with activeness and bravery.
  • Equality among people leads to wholeness and freeness in the human world. Everything in this world is originally whole and free. However, our ignorance and delusion give rise to perceptions of dualities, such as superior and inferior, coming and going, with and without, arising and ceasing, large and small, internal and external, good and evil, wise and dull. Such distinctions, subsequently, cause continual fighting among people, deepen antagonism among people, increase animosity among races, and escalate warring tensions among nations.

Keynote Speech: Faith and Legacy (2018) edit


  • Before attaining Buddhahood, Prince Siddhartha lived a privileged life of abundance and joyful bliss in the palace, never knowing what suffering is. Till one day came the time for him to step outside the palace, where he saw for himself what old age, sickness, death, and rebirth are like in the world. At that moment, it finally dawned on him: “So this is the reality of the world!” Right there, he realized that people should fully bring forth the value of life and to actively elucidate the meaning of life. Soon after, he decided to give up the throne he was to inherit and trod alone on the path of cultivation. In the course of his cultivation, the Buddha had profound realization of two states:
  • One, the lasting nature of life: Life may appear to be one span after another, arising and ceasing, however, within the arising and ceasing, there is its unchanging nature, which is always timeless, coexisting with space, and nature.
  • Two, the equality among sentient beings: When you witness the many shortcomings and imperfections of human nature in this world we live in, do you still have faith in humanity? Even though humans have so many inadequacies, but in the eyes of the Buddha, the mind, buddha, and sentient beings are no different. He told us, “All beings have the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata,” and will ultimately attain Buddhahood.
  • The Buddha’s two realizations demonstrate his high degree of recognition in the value of life as well as firm faith in sentient beings, which is a deep faith in the truth of the world. If we are able to experience this wisdom of life as realized by the Buddha, then we will have more faith in viewing life, understanding that if we are willing to strive to act well as humans, the future will change for the better. We will have more confidence in dealing with people from all walks of life because all beings have Buddha Nature. Every person is a future buddha and should be accorded respect.
  • While there are worries in the world, one should remember that, the world also has the Buddha; while there are suffering in the world, but remember, the world also has the Dharma. As long as we have Dharma in our mind, the Dharma can change our views, transform our way of thinking, and purify our body and mind. Then the world we see and hear will be different.
  • Just as the Venerable Master once said, “Life is a marathon race; we need to persevere over distance and time.” It is the same with learning Buddhism and cultivation, it is a lifetime undertaking or even life after life till the end of time, all of which needs perseverance. Of course, every lifetime will bring us much wisdom and experiences. Ultimately, if we can combine the experiences we have gained life after life, we will be like the Buddha’s “realization” in fulfilling the meaning of life.
  • Compassion, regardless of one’s status or position, is the treasure within every person’s mind. The Venerable Master said, “One can be without anything, but never without compassion.” Compassion is giving others joy and alleviating their suffering. If a person can always embrace compassion and uphold kind thoughts, then naturally there will be less troubles and worries in live.
  • Compassion is the common language of this world than can break down all barriers in human relationships. However, for most people it is easier to give rise to compassion when it comes to friends and relatives whom they have connections with; it is not easy to practice compassion on strangers. In reality, Buddhism teaches us that even for people who appear to have little connection with us in this lifetime, they could be our relatives and friends in our past lives. As such, regardless if we know one another or not, we should treat each other with compassion.
  • Wisdom is like a bright light, shining through people’s delusion and ignorance; it is also like a varja, eradicating delusional worries. Within the various Dharma services and activities, I believe we are able to learn much wisdom of the Dharma. It is wished that the legacy can be sustained into the future for the benefit of the next generation.
  • Morals and a person’s life are closely related, for instance, if someone praises us for being a person of morals, we will certainly be very pleased. Conversely, if someone says we are an unethical crook, we will be upset for a long time. So we can see that morals have significant implications for every person’s life.
  • Buddhism is a kind of moral education which can support the establishment of views in dealing with people and situation. The Five Precepts are the basic morals in conducting oneself; they provide the standards in accordance with kindness for people’s behavior. For instance, the precept of “not taking intoxicants” means not to take any substance which impairs one’s wisdom; in the perspective of today’s society, it is not taking drugs. By not taking drugs, our body and mind will be calm and will not go on to transgress on others. Hence, morals are the standard for cultivation, the self-realization of the conscience. For a person of cultivation, his or her morals are undoubtedly noble.

Keynote Speech: Respect and Magnanimity (2012) edit


  • In today's world, technological and medical advances have prolonged the human lifespan. However, such advances have also led to increasing estrangement and apathy among people. More and more people are feeling the lack of happiness and peace in their lives.
  • Speaking of happiness and peace, what is the purpose of our existence in this world? Is it to find happiness? Or to experience suffering? Of course, most people would say, “Happiness!” In reality, how many people actually enjoy happiness and peace? What we hear and see most often are the wails of grief over the catastrophes of this world. These include natural disasters and man-made calamities such as war, violence, famine, poverty, and various stresses and anxieties experienced in everyday life. Very few people think of life as truly happy.
  • Happiness and peace come from detachment and contentment In this world, some people pursue material happiness and others pursue nature’s tranquility and peace, while some pursue material transcendence and spiritual happiness attained from detachment and contentment. So what type of happiness should we be pursuing? Material life may satisfy our daily needs, but it does not bring sustained happiness; only detachment and contentment allow us to enjoy lasting happiness.
  • As the saying goes, “a mind without desires makes a character noble.” A person may be without glamorous outfits or sensual enjoyments, but as long as he or she is not greedy for anything, he or she will naturally be noble in character. A person who is detached and without desires does not get jealous or compare himself with others, does not oppose or fight with others, and does not treat people or matters with arrogance and insolence, but follows any conditions with perfect ease. Take the many eminent and virtuous people throughout history, for example. They earned the respect of others not because of their wealth, but because of their moral integrity nurtured through living simple but content lives. They are the true models of living the philosophy of emptiness.
  • Compassion is not a demand on others, nor is it a standard by which we judge people. It is a way to discipline ourselves. Compassion does not mean blind tolerance to physical attack or verbal abuse. When justice is threatened or when good people are being slandered or attacked, we should stand up bravely for them. Compassion is not a momentary emotion, but a persistent service for others. Compassion is not just being kind only to our friends and family, nor does it mean we are to expect anything in return. Compassion is not always about praises and encouragement. Sometimes, in the interest of common well-being or to subdue the hard-headed, an angry expression is required to subdue villains. This is actually the greatest and most difficult form of compassion.
  • In this world, the meaning of compassion is often distorted, leading to excessive indulgence and turning a blind eye to what is wrong. When applied inappropriately, compassion can become the source of crimes and wrongdoings. For instance, the common practice of freeing live animals actually causes harm to more animal lives. Inappropriate and lavish giving of money only nurture greed and corruption. Therefore, true compassion and tolerance must be supplemented by prajna wisdom to prevent traveling down the wrong path, rendering the initial intentions futile.
  • I often use the suitcase as a metaphor for life: we pick it up when we need to, and we let go of it when it is time to do so. When we pick up something, we should be able to shoulder the responsibility with courage, with the resolve and sense of mission in serving. When it is time to let go, we should also follow conditions and let go in a calm and composed manner. The ability to let go makes it easy to pick up again. When you are willing to take a step forward, there will be hope for the future.
  • Picking up and letting go are two sides of the same coin; they are equally important. To pick up does not mean to fight for something; it is a resolve, a form of tolerance, and wisdom. To let go does not mean to ride on a loose rein and indulge oneself; it is the bodhisattva spirit of giving, only making contributions and not expecting anything in return.
  • Bodhisattvas base their spiritual cultivation on “placing every thought on the attainment of buddhahood, and focusing every mind on delivering sentient beings.” Ordinary beings from the Saha World on the other hand, usually use spiritual cultivation as an excuse to retreat into mountain forests and live a secluded life so as to pursue liberation for themselves. However, according to Hui-neng the Sixth Patriarch, “Buddhism’s being in the world is not separate from the awareness of the world. To seek bodhi apart from the world is like searching for the horn of a hare.” How can one speak of spiritual cultivation or attaining buddhahood if one remains distant from the world and its people?
  • The purpose of work may sometimes be living, for one’s career, for one’s interest, to repay others, for one’s religious belief, or sometimes for a sense of honor and justice. When you volunteer for Buddhism, the Buddha will see your initiative, and cause and effect will never turn against your contributions. To be a volunteer for Buddhism, not only are you serving the multitude, you are also nurturing your own fortune, which can be of benefit to you in many lifetimes, thus its value is formless. Therefore, to be volunteer may look like it is for the benefit of others on the surface, but we are in fact the one who is receiving the most benefits.
  • While persistence is important, one must also never forget the initial vows, and be an unrequested helper to people. To be an unrequested helper means to actively offer your help, and never fall behind others in shouldering responsibilities. People usually wait for others’ requests or invitation before offering their help, but a truly compassionate and generous person will automatically step forward and offer a helping hand when seeing others in need. Just as said in the Vimalakirti Sutra, the bodhisattva “befriended and pacified people without being requested.” To be an unrequested helper to our families, friends, society and country is a demonstration of the best volunteer spirit.
  • I used to divide generosity into four grades: 1) giving of money, 2) giving of labor, 3) giving of language, 4) giving of goodwill. Money will be of no use if one does not know how to use it properly. Sometimes there may not be as many works available, but words of kindness will never be too much. If one offers good intentions and continue to wish others well, or even teach the Dharma to others, one will be practicing supreme generosity.
  • Volunteers are a very important part of public life. To volunteer one’s work without any monetary reward is a type of moral duty, which not only benefits the public but also promotes the spirit of oneness and coexistence. Through voluntary hard work and dedication, one will bring out the compassion and love in people, and inspire righteousness and virtue in society. Furthermore, voluntary work can contribute tremendously to public welfare and charity campaigns, relief aids, and the bettering of society. Therefore, if everyone can be a volunteer, then society will naturally be filled with peace and goodness.

Keynote Speech: Change the World and Benefit Humanity (2006) edit


  • It has all been for Buddhism's sake. Despite having grown up inside a monastery living a frugal and simple life, I never for a moment felt mistreated or deprived, because it was all for Buddhism’s sake. I became ordained for Buddhism’s sake; I remained firm against temptations of rich offerings from conducting chanting services, because I had resolved to devote my life to propagating the Dharma and benefiting sentient beings for Buddhism's sake; I declined positions of abbot and those of authority and fame from a young age, because I had my own thoughts and directions, and it was “all for Buddhism's sake.”
  • Self-awareness is also a way of self-education, and this also refers to what is mentioned in the sutras, “Rely on yourself, rely on the Dharma, and rely on nothing else.” Self-education is the key to our success, as we are most clear of our own faults and ignorance, we must educate ourselves and teach ourselves how to rectify our shortcomings. In other words, we must be demanding of ourselves, and attain the ability for self-learning, self-enrichment, and self-reflection. We need to learn to seek the cause in ourselves and make consistent effort in questioning ourselves, be self-aware, be one with our own initiative, and enlighten ourselves. Through continued self-reflection, we are able to find our true self. Otherwise, it will be as Sutra of Bequeathed Teachings indicates, “I am but a guide that points out the path to you; if you do not follow, it is not the guide to blame. I am but a good doctor who prescribes the medicine for your illness, if you do not take the medicine, the fault does not lie with the doctor.” If we do not even attempt to enlighten ourselves, not only will the Buddha not be of help to us, even a world of books on Buddhism will not help us gain understanding of the profound prajna wisdom. Therefore, we must read extensively and study deeply the Buddhist texts; the process of listening, thinking, and practice will enable us to be self-awakened and self-enlightened.
  • To resolve means to cultivate the field of your mind, which is also the first thing we have to learn as Buddhists. Without cultivating and developing the field of our mind, no matter how good the conditions we may possess, or how much fortune and merits we may have, the sprout of bodhi wisdom will still not grow. This is similar to a seed without a good and fertile land, no good flower or fruit will ever grow out of it. Therefore, if we wish to open up and develop our spiritual wealth or utilize our energy, we must begin by resolving.
  • Develop a true mind that is as vast as the ocean: Not only is the ocean a palace for aquatic animals, it is also a place filled with inexhaustible treasures. Take a look at oil drillers today. Don’t they always dig deep in the ocean for the oil? The ocean’s resources are usually what supports and makes a country wealthy; this is why every country protects its water rights, because to them, they are protecting their national property. Our mind is also like the ocean, it is a womb that nurtures the treasures of compassion and bodhi wisdom awaiting us to uncover.
  • Develop a true mind that is as immense as space: The universe can be used as a metaphor for our mind, “the mind is like the universe; its capacity immeasurable like grains of sand.” Within the universe exist the sun, moon, and stars; within the universe exist thunder, lightening, rain, and dew. Every phenomenon is embraced within. Therefore, the nations of the world are all interested in exploring the universe, hoping to discover treasures from within. Our mind too is like space filled with limitless treasures of joy and contentment. It is only through development that we can discover the treasures.
  • Develop a true mind that is as boundless as the earth: The earth is our mother that nurtures our life. Not only does the human race depend on the sky and the ocean’s resources for food, they also depend on the earth to survive. The earth supports all forms of life that grow on it, while underneath it there are mines of gold, silver, bronze, and all kinds of minerals. Our mind too, is like the earth in which our Buddha Nature and true nature lie deeply within. We must know where to dig and how to develop in order to uncover these treasures.
  • Develop a true mind that is as intrinsic as our nature: Each one of us possesses an intrinsically true nature. Once we uncover the true nature that is like the ocean, like space and like the earth, we can take one step further and uncover our original face, return to our native home, and retrieve what has been ours from the very beginning. In general, anything that enables us to accomplish the ultimate goal of benefiting both oneself and others as well as enlightening both oneself and others must never be lost or forgotten by learners of the Dharma. These include gratitude, humility, determination for the Way, merit, deep belief, respect, magnanimity, and endurance, all of which are the resolves that Buddhists cannot do without.
  • In Buddhism, human beings are referred to as “sentient beings.” In other words, they are beings that come into existence once the necessary conditions gather together. In this world, there is no such space or time that enables an individual to exist alone, because beings must depend on each other in order to survive. Only when the conditions around us gather together will we be able to live. For this reason, we must allow these conditions to gather together, and then share them with others, and allow other people to benefit from them. We must never leave the crowd and become selfish practitioners, because buddhahood can only be attained by interacting with sentient beings; without them, not only are we no longer able to survive, buddhahood will also be out of reach.
  • Being resolved and making vows are not a practice exclusive to Buddhists; every member of society has the obligation to do so. Once one has resolved to do it, the accomplishment of a task then becomes possible; once a vow is made, a clear goal will then be in sight. In particular, a chaotic society is the cause of many people’s worries and senses of insecurity.

Self-awareness and Practicing the Buddha's Way (2004) edit

  • Since our birth, we have gone through various phases of receiving instruction and education. Up to a certain age, our parents at home would give us the necessary instructions. When we grow up and go to school, we are taught by our teachers. Finally when we start working, we will receive further education from the interaction with society. However I consider the most important form of education as one that is gained from maintaining constant self-awareness.
  • Self-Awareness is essentially a form of self education. According to the Buddhist sutras, we must be reliant on ourselves and the Dharma, but never depend on external influence. Similarly, we should teach ourselves to maintain alertness at all times so that we can assimilate and derive global understanding of all events around us. This is what I mean by self education.
  • By self education I mean the ability to be self demanding, self learned, self enriching and self reflecting without relying on others’ assistance. Successful self education is dependent on the constant questioning, awareness, motivating and understanding of the self. We can indeed discover our own self through self contemplation.
  • Mankind has been living on earth for millenniums, but why is it that no one ever discovered gravitational force before Newton? I believe that it is because Newton had a unique ability to observe. In Buddhist terms, Newton possessed a very high level of awareness, which is very important to the development of personal wisdom. Buddhism places a strong emphasis on the advancement of individual awareness; because only through progressive elevation of awareness can we develop and enhance our wisdom, which leads to the understanding and appreciation of nirvana.
  • Throughout our lives, we needed parental caring, instruction from our teachers, support from society, and assistance from our mentors and encouragement from our friends. However most important of all, we must rely on our own self-awareness. We must not lose our awareness and become totally dependent on others.
  • We need either a legitimate job or business to be able to lead a proper life. Our wealth, comfort and stability are the result of daily hard work, which allow us to be able to perform good and benevolent tasks for others. One cannot be expected to carry out significant charitable deeds if he himself is poor and starving.
  • It is essential to satisfy our daily needs for clothing, food, lodging and transportation. Even if you are a perfectly enlightened Buddha, your daily livelihood is what needs to keep you alive in this world. In your Buddhist cultivation, it is not necessary to maintain a poverty-stricken and austere lifestyle. In fact, Buddhism encourages its devotees to be prosperous by being successful businesspersons or industrious employees
  • Before we start any task, we must set ourselves a goal. Once a goal is set, we will be able to identify a direction in which we can apply our energy and effort. To set a goal is to “make a resolution’ or in Buddhist terms “to resolve and make a vow.”

Keynote Speech: One Truth For All (2000) edit


  • Today, we live in a time when science and economics have produced so much wealth and so many marvelous inventions it is hard to imagine what will come next. As we enjoy the benefits of our age, however, we must wonder how these material achievements are affecting the moral behavior of the world's people. The world has become so complex, individuals are now more able than ever to select their own realities, and to make decisions based on personal feelings or personal assessments of what is true and false.
  • Deep truths are universal and they transcend the individual. Rational minds find solace in the truth because human reason itself is a reflection of deep reality.
  • The modern world seduces people into believing that they have the competence to interpret truth in any way they like. People know more today than ever before, but what they know is usually little more than a collection of facts about one area of study or another. Each area of human endeavor is important to all others, but few areas of inquiry can really be said to have major bearing on our understanding of who we are as people, or what our place in the universe really is.
  • Universal truth is beyond duality, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond the selfish interests of the individual who sees only himself and no one else. The Buddha's teachings on cause and effect tell us that karma is a law that applies to the workings of all conscious minds. No one can escape this law. When we behave with bad intentions, we create conditions that we ourselves one day will have to endure. The selfish person thinks that no one is seeing him, or that no one knows his thoughts; this is the logic of subjective "truth." The Buddha taught that our thoughts are precisely what make us who we are.
  • In a perfect society, each citizen would understand the universality of truth and honor the rights and needs of others. A good society must be based on democratic principles, and yet when a democracy loses sight of the rights of its minority members and allows the wishes of the majority to control everything, there will always be problems. The rights of those who voted for the losing side of an election are fully as important as those who voted on the winning side. Objective standards of law and behavior must be respected at all times, and all members of any given society must be equal within those standards. When one group seizes power from another and flouts the basic rule of law, chaos inevitably follows. A good thing cannot come from a bad intention.
  • It is important to have a clear recognition of the rarity of all events. The environmental movement has made us all more aware of the preciousness of out natural surroundings, but I wonder sometimes if it has not also had the effect of making us think that human life should proceed in the same way as the lives of animals? I hope not, for in the animal realm, the strong rule the weak, and the ruthless prevail. It would be a tragedy to interpret life in the human realm in terms of the lives of animals. Our human realm is precious most of all because it provides us with the opportunity to study the Dharma and to practice compassion.

Keynote Speech: Nature and Life (1998) edit


  • When we speak of nature, we mean the expression in this world of certain fundamental truths. Nature is a level of truth that is manifested in the world around us. All around us we can see the cycles of nature: the four seasons, the stages of life from birth to death, the rising and falling of phenomena, the movement of thought from one instant to the next. All of this is natural. All of this is part of the process of life. Life is a condition of nature just as nature is a condition of life. Life is created in nature, it develops in nature and it affects nature in ways that cannot be easily described.
  • Buddhism reveres nature by stressing human nature and the human mind above all else. The Eastern and Western Pure Lands described in Buddhist sutras are characterized by the beauty of their natural environments. In them, streams and rivers are clean, the air is fragrant and the trees and flowers are magnificent as birds sing everywhere. The people that live there need only think of what clothing they want or what food they want for it to appear before them. The purpose of these descriptions is to show that there are states of consciousness in which it is possible for human beings to live in perfect accord with nature. When those states are reached, one need only think of what one wants and it will appear. There is no difference between thought and "reality."
  • Mountains lie in forms like living beings." If we pay close attention, can we not see—cannot all of us see—that there is nothing anywhere that does not issue from the very heart of our own being? All is one, all is us. How sad that so many people spend their lives encouraging division, selfishness and turmoil. Rather than enjoy the glory and oneness of this wonderful world, they prefer to carve out self-serving bits of it to the great detriment of all the many beings who must endure their presence here. That is exactly the kind of "life" that the Buddha taught us not to live!
  • A natural life in living nature All of life is one and all of life depends on all of its parts. The vast variety and complexity of life is something that all of us should treasure with all of our hearts. Unfortunately, humankind for too long has thought of itself as the "soul of nature" and in this has ceased showing respect and appreciation for the many other species of animals and plants that inhabit this world with us. To satisfy the needs of a mere moment, too many of us are willing to pillage and destroy entire ecosystems.
  • Flowing with nature, finding the eternal Nature is based on harmony and it finds its balance through the harmonious functioning of its many parts. That which obstructs nature brings trouble to itself as it forces the basic harmony of life to decline into discord. The ancients used to say, "To oppose the flow of nature is to be mentally ill." Greed, anger, ignorance, pride, doubt, and jealousy are all mental defilements that run counter to the flow of nature; they always cause more problems than they solve and they usually lead us only deeper into error. Defilements like these are a kind of excess or a mistaken corrective that rebels against the natural flow of life. If we hoard our money, then we will never put it to good use. If we squander it, then eventually we will be left with nothing more than the stale memory of our profligacy.
  • Nature and karma are similar, if not the same. When we do something good for the world, a good reward comes to us. When we do something evil to the world, a painful retribution results. Cause and effect form the spokes on a wheel that turns continuously, without beginning or end. Our very lives themselves are the temporary manifestations of a process of cause and effect that has been going on for eons. Already, each one of us has lived and died a thousand thousand times. Death is the beginning of a new life, while each life is the start of a new death that is yet to come. If this point is properly understood, we should be able to see that death is never an absolute end to anything and that life is never an absolute condition that persists without change.
  • Life is a product of causes and conditions, while death is a product of their dispersal. If we gaze upon life and death from the highest level of truth, we will see that they are fundamentally nonexistent. Nothing is born and nothing dies. The truth is far deeper than that! This is why great Buddhist masters work not so much to overcome the cycle of birth and death, but rather to see deeply into their own basic nature, for this nature already is beyond life and death. Whenever a sentient being can even so much as glimpse his inner nature, he frees himself from immense trouble for his inner nature is nothing less than the mind of Buddha.
  • The basic rules of life are no different today than they were in the past. If we want to live well and do our best while we are in this world, then we must live in accordance with the flow of nature as it finds expression both inside of us and outside of us. We must honor the rights and feelings of our spouses, children, neighbors and coworkers. If we want to begin a new business enterprise, we must respect the marketplace and take into consideration all of the many factors that will go into making our efforts pay off. If we want to improve the governance of our societies, then we must pay close attention to the needs of the people as we strive to set an example that is worthy of their natural and heartfelt respect. The imperative that we live in accordance with the natural laws of nature and the human heart is even more important for those of us who call ourselves Buddhists. Above all others, we must strive to set examples that inspire and comfort our fellow beings. Our words must be truthful and our motives must be pure, for this is the only way that we can ever hope to be of lasting value to others. In seeking this way of being, we will find that we are conforming perfectly to the way of nature as well, for the Tao of nature lies as much in our hearts as it does in the world that surrounds us.

Keynote Speech: Respect and Magnanimity (1995) edit


  • Freedom, democracy, and technology are the hallmarks of our modern century. However, misguided freedom has become an excuse for offending others; false democracy has become a weapon for trampling the weak; and unethical technology has become a tool for destroying one's neighbor. In the past freedom, democracy, and technology have been necessities for favorable progress. Now, they are the source of many problems. In these turbulent times, we call upon respect and magnanimity as a way for people of the world to cultivate increased mutual respect for and understanding of one another.
  • Respect the freedom of others. Freedom is priceless. The history of the world is full of martyrdom for the cause of freedom. However, in a modern democracy, misconceptions of freedom can lead to great misfortune and confusion. Freedom requires respect for the freedom of others, and the Buddhist Five Precepts embody this spirit of freedom. No killing means to respect the lives of others. No stealing means to respect the property of others. No lying means to respect the reputation of others. No sexual misconduct means to respect the integrity of self and others. No intoxicants means to respect our own body. Upholding the precepts is honoring the freedom of others. When we examine the penitentiaries, we can see that inmates are being held because they have broken the Five Precepts.
  • Life has no price because money cannot buy life. We should respect the value of being alive and of all living beings. Not only should we protect the lives of others, we should also respect our own life. We should be a lamp that illuminates and warms those who surround us. We should be a tree that shelters and comforts. We should be a bridge that guides all beings to the shore of happiness. We should be a raindrop that nurtures both body and mind.
  • Our achievement is proportional to the size of our heart. If we can show magnanimity towards those in our family, we can be leaders in our homes. If we can show magnanimity towards those in our community, we can be leaders of our communities. If we can show magnanimity towards those in our nation, we can be leaders of our nation. If we can get beyond all opposites, appreciate everything in the universe, and help where it is appropriate, we will be as free as the king of the Dharma realm is. It is said: "Bamboo packs tightly, but water can still flow through it. The mountain is high, but clouds are not stopped by it." If we have magnanimity, we can be like clouds and water, penetrating all obstructions. We will be able to travel freely throughout the universe.

Quotes about Hsing Yun edit

  • He was the target of [Taiwanese] pro-independence advocates again in 2014 when he said in talks with Xi in Beijing that the “Chinese dream would enable China to become greater and more prosperous.” Despite this view, Hsing Yun remained widely admired among the island’s 24 million people, largely through his promotion of “humanistic Buddhism” and his charitable work in Taiwan and around the world.
  • He was a product of his origins and of his generation, but also a religious figure who did not hesitate to dip his toes into the waters of politics, more often than not siding with the Kuomintang while always making sure to avoid doing or saying things that would anger Beijing.
  • Unlike Cardinal Zen and the Dalai Lama, Hsing Yun was driven by pragmatism, not any beliefs in democracy. He was willing to work with anyone who could advance his interest and organization.
  • His concept of humanistic Buddhism contributed to a shift in Chinese Buddhist practices from one that was ritual-centered and otherworldly to one that focused on the here-and-now through the practice of the Dharma and the promotion of Buddhist education and social welfare.
  • Master Hsing Yun was revered by compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for always safeguarding the overall interests of the Chinese nation, firmly supporting China's national reunification and opposing "Taiwan independence," as well as helping advance cross-Strait exchanges.

External links edit

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Modern Buddhist writers 19th century to date
Theravada / Vipassana movement B. R. AmbedkarṬhānissaro BhikkhuAjahn ChahAnagarika DharmapalaJoseph GoldsteinHenepola GunaratanaNoah LevineNyanaponika Thera
Mahayana Daisaku IkedaYin ShunAlfred Bloom
Vajrayana Pema ChödrönKelsang GyatsoTenzin GyatsoMatthieu RicardRobert ThurmanChögyam Trungpa
Zen Taisen DeshimaruThích Nhất HạnhPhilip KapleauD. T. SuzukiHan Yong-unHsing Yun
Other and Secular Buddhism Stephen BatchelorRobert Wright
Scholars Lokesh ChandraWalter Evans-WentzRichard GombrichThomas Rhys Davids
Non-Buddhists influenced by Buddhism Edwin ArnoldHelena BlavatskyFritjof CapraLeonard CohenAlexandra David-NéelHermann HesseCarl JungJon Kabat-ZinnFriedrich NietzscheHenry Steel OlcottRajneeshHelena RoerichJ. D. SalingerArthur SchopenhauerGary SnyderAlan WattsAlfred North Whitehead