Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


To promote the advance on humanistic Buddhism research in East Asia and Southeast Asia, the Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CSHB) launched an exclusive writing series project “Studies of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asian Series”. It aimed to encourage scholars to excavate more and conduct relevant research on how China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan where carry out humanistic Buddhism, as well as the missionary situation in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and other regions; thus, to outline the development track of contemporary Humanistic Buddhism in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Soon after the project was launched, a total of 18 scholars were nominated to participate in the scheme.

In collaborating the writing of the series books, the CSHB successively organized three seminars on “The Development of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia”, “The Practice of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia”, “The Spread of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia”, and other international academic seminars in 2015. Nearly 200 experts and scholars from all over the world were invited to deliberate on relevant issues. Scholars who wrote the “Studies of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asian Series” were also invited to exchange and share with experts participating in the grand event.

The participating experts reviewed and compiled the papers of the three conferences into three volumes “Dharma Rained in China Benefiting Asia: The Development of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia”, “Deep into Dependent Origination, Gather All Dharma-treasure: The Practice of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia”, “The realm of non-obstruction, preaching of Buddha-dharma”. These three volumes are of great reference for the development, dissemination and practice of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia, and complementing each other within the series books.

In the preface of “Deep into Dependent Origination, Gather All Dharma-treasure”, I addressed: From the beginning that Master Taixu’s advocated ” Human Life Buddhism “, modern Chinese Buddhism has since then embarked on a magnificent page of modernization. During the reform process with inheriting ancestral practice, Master Cihang, Instructor Yinshun, Master Hsing Yun, Master Shengyan, etc those from Taiwan, and Mr. Zhao Puchu, Elder Ven. Jinghui and other Buddhists with great virtue in mainland China have continuously enriched the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism and promoted in an all-round way, finally developed “Humanistic Buddhism” that attains “Dharma-life” and “life-Dharma”.  Among them, Master Hsing Yun, who founded Fo Guang Shan, is recognized by the academic world as a practitioner on Humanistic Buddhism. Fo Guang Shan has about 300 monasteries and dojos all over the world, and is committed to the implementation of the belief of “Humanistic Buddhism”: “Building temples with monks in residence, reaching boundless destined audiences; spreading the Dharma and benefiting all beings, the path to Bodhi is eternal”.

“Humanistic Buddhism” has become the main ideological trend and practice direction of Buddhism development in the 21st century. With the efforts of eminent monks and great virtues, the belief of Humanistic Buddhism has not only spread in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and India, but it also has blossomed everywhere, even in North America and Europe, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, as well as various regions in Australia and New Zealand, and even the African Republic of South Africa and the Congo. The outcome, though small, but measurable and concrete. For this reason, while the research focuses only on East Asian and Southeast Asian countries currently, the CSHB plans to enlarge its scope to cover other countries at suitable time. Hopefully, the CSHB would help to complete the jigsaw puzzle of Humanistic Buddhism worldwide in the future.

The propagation and practice of Buddhism must be integrated with local culture. Observing the development of Buddhism in China, the Sinicization began in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, including the development of characteristics and achievements in teaching, dogma, and religious system, which in turn influenced neighboring countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other East and Southeast Asia. Looking around the contemporary era, with the take-off in economic development in China, Chinese are all around the world, which brings new opportunities for the spread of Buddhism overseas. The content and methods of Buddhist teachings should seek new changes to meet the religious needs of the overseas Chinese and the local people. The top priority is to help them adapt to the new environment and fulfill the spiritual desolation, so as to the spiritual comfort.

Regarding the spread of Buddhism in other countries, Master Hsing Yun once stated:

What is localization? Localization is dedication and friendliness. Everyone develops their own characteristics corresponding to the differences in cultural ideology, geographical environments, and customs of different places. “Indigenization” is not “removing”, but “giving”. It is hoped that through Buddhism, it can bring a more fulfilling spiritual life to the local people. This is precisely the spirit of returning to the original heart of Buddha in Humanistic Buddhism, which can be accepted by people. The spread of Humanistic Buddhism around the world, in addition to adapting to different government orders and cultures, is the interaction with Christianity, Catholicism, Islam and other beliefs. Therefore, while I preach overseas, most of the local people believe in Catholicism and Christianity, I encourage them to have two beliefs. Just like when we are studying in school, while we like literature, we can also take philosophy as an elective.

The Master emphasizes the positive thinking of implementing “localization”. His approach is not to give up, but to give, which is an interactive and integrated transmission method. He believes that the spread of “Humanistic Buddhism” around the world must adapt to different government orders and cultures, and interact with them, even Christianity, Catholicism, Islam and other beliefs.

In addition to understand the local people’s sentiments and religions, it is imperative to appreciate the country’s state affairs. The Buddhism that came from India was once repelled by the powerful “Eastern Land” civilization in ancient China. Fortunately, the Chinese monks well understood the fundamental principle that “no Dharma can be established without following the ruler of the country” and successfully realized the legalization of Buddhism in China. From this, it can be seen that, when it comes to the localization and legalization of Buddhism, it is compulsory to consider the teaching model pertinent to the establishment. For example, the fruitful achievements in the interaction between Buddhism and ancient China’s patriarchal system, majestic politics, Confucianism, Taoism, even poetry, calligraphy and painting, etc., were the result of numerous encounters, collisions, fusions, and accumulations. From this point of view, cultural interaction and transformation were gradually shaped through conflicts, and were generated in the process of collisions, discussions, debates, and mutual criticisms, thus received fruitful results. In other words, the deeper the gap between different cultures, the wider the space for discussion, and the results will be more effective.

The process of “localization” involves a wide range of aspects which cannot be achieved overnight. Whereas the promotion of Buddhism longs for comprehensive “localization”, it is crucial to consider the connection and integration of all aspects. Other than the interaction at the material dimension, the core essence of cultural exchange is more reflected in the ideological, institutional and spiritual levels. It is really a profound dialogue and the deepest fusion. If such exchanges cannot be accomplished, the process of “localization” will not be successful. Therefore, for the process to be achieved, it would take decades or even a hundred years. From mutual understanding to cooperation, this extensive cultural movement must converge for a long time to achieve true coexistence and co-prosperity or symbiosis. In communication and dissemination among heterogeneous cultures, belief is the driving force of cultural development. The mutual influence in the interaction with each other, mainly attribute to penetration, which analyze and structure the self-one, so as to adjust and improve oneself, and the cultural spirit will eventually become more diverse and fruitful due to this process.

Humanistic Buddhism in East Asia and Southeast Asia exhibits multifaceted humanistic care, including fields and connotations such as cultural education, charity relief, and teaching promotion, etc.  Should it be a long-term focus project and discuss it systematically, we will definitely contribute to the academic to master the progress of contemporary Humanistic Buddhism. The writers of this scheme cover different areas, whatever the subject matter is from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, or South Korea, Japan, or even the most attached mainland China and the Taiwan which we are familiar with, has made considerable academic contributions, and it has a very high reference value for the study of the spread and practice of Humanistic Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia. I really appreciate that the elegant gentlemen and the high virtues around the world, could raise your concern after reading, that would be my honor.


Preface by Chen Chien Huang at the Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism,

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

March 1, 2020