Li Guoshen (李國深)
19 August 1927
|Nationality||Republic of China|
|Education||Qixia Academy of the School of Vinaya|
|Temple||Fo Guang Shan|
|Teacher||Shi Zhikai (釋志開)|
|Present post||Spiritual advisor of Fo Guang Shan|
Hsing Yun (Chinese: 星雲; pinyin: Xīng Yún) (born August 19, 1927) is a Chinese Buddhist monk. He is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order as well as the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association in Taiwan. Hsing Yun is considered to be one of the most prominent proponents of Humanistic Buddhism and is considered to be one of the most influential teachers of modern Taiwanese Buddhism. In Taiwan, he is 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's first exposure to Buddhism came from his grandmother, a practicing Buddhist and meditator. He entered the monastic life at the age of 12. Hsing Yun was first inspired by Buddhist modernism in 1945 while studying at Jiaoshan Buddhist College. There he learned about Buddhist teacher Taixu's calls for reform in Buddhism and the Sangha. He fled mainland China to Taiwan in 1949 following the communist victory in the civil war but was arrested along with several other Buddhist monastics. Hsing Yun and the others were released after 23 days and Hsing Yun spent the next several years developing a large following and founding numerous temples. In 1966, Hsing Yun bought some land in Kaohsiung and started building a large monastery. After partial completion, the temple opened in 1967 and would later become the headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist organization.
Hsing Yun's Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order is a proponent of "Humanistic" Buddhism, and Hsing Yun himself was the abbot of the order until his resignation in 1985. Following his resignation, Hsing Yun founded the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) as a layperson based Humanistic Buddhist organization.
Fo Guang Shan eventually grew to become one of the most significant social actors in Taiwan; the organization has established several schools and colleges, and runs orphanages, homes for the elderly, and drug rehabilitation programs in prisons. Fo Guang Shan has also been involved in some international relief efforts.
Fo Guang Shan entered mainland China in the early 21st century, focusing more on charity and Chinese cultural revival rather than Buddhist propagation in order to avoid conflict with the Chinese government, which opposes proselytizing. Fo Guang Shan's presence in China increased under the premiership of General Secretary Xi Jinping after he started a program to revive traditional Chinese faiths. According to Hsing Yun, his goal in mainland China is to work with the mainland government to rebuild China's culture following the destruction of the Cultural Revolution, rather than promote Buddhism in the mainland.
The headquarters of Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung is currently the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. On top of that, the order has a network of over 300 branches throughout Taiwan, as well as several branches worldwide in at least fifty countries.
In Taiwan, Hsing Yun is notable for his activity in political affairs, particularly as a supporter of the One-China policy as well as government legislation supported by the Kuomintang, and has been criticized for his views by those in favor of Taiwan independence and by religious figures, as being overtly political and "considerably far afield from traditional monastic concerns". During the 2008 presidential election, Hsing Yun publicly endorsed Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou. During the second World Buddhist Forum in 2009, Hsing Yun asserted that there are "no Taiwanese" and that Taiwanese "are Chinese". In 2012 he said that the Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyutai Islands) belonged to China.
In the past he has encouraged reconciliation between China and the Dalai Lama, but has tried hard to avoid causing rifts between him and his organisation and the Chinese government.
On 26 December 2011, Hsing Yun suffered a minor ischemic stroke, his second in that year. In his older years Hsing Yun began suffering from numerous health issues, including diabetes and near blindness.
In 2008, Hsing Yun was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Whittier College.