Fo Guang Shan founder Hsing Yun dies aged 95
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Fo Guang Shan founder Hsing Yun dies aged 95

Buddhist Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師), founder of the Kaohsiung-based Buddhist organization Fo Guang Shan, died on Sunday at the age of 95.

Fo Guang Shan yesterday confirmed in a statement that Hsing Yun had passed away peacefully at 5pm the previous evening.

A memorial service is to be held at Fo Guang Shan’s Cloud Dwelling Building at 9am on Monday next week.

Buddhist Master Hsing Yun speaks in an undated photograph.
Photo: Chen Chia-yi, Taipei Times

Hsing Yun, born as Lee Kuo-shen (李國深) in 1927 to a poor family in China’s Jiangsu Province, became interested in Buddhism at age 12 after visiting Nanjing’s Qixia Temple while on a trip to the city with his mother in an unsuccessful effort to find his father.

After taking his religious vows, he graduated from Jiaoshan Buddhist Seminary in 1947. Two years later, he moved to Taiwan, where he taught and was editor-in-chief of the Buddhist publication Humanity Magazine.

In 1967, Hsing Yun founded Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung as a monastery with the purpose of promoting “the principles of humanistic Buddhism and foster[ing] peace and harmony among all peoples of the world.”

Fo Guang Shan gradually expanded into education, charity and media. It also founded more than 300 temples worldwide, as well as Buddhist seminaries, libraries and publishing companies.

Beginning in 1991, Hsing Yun established Fo Guang University and Nanhua University in Taiwan, University of the West in the US, Nan Tien Institute in Australia and Guang Ming College in the Philippines.

Since 2015, the five institutions have offered cross-enrollment and exchange programs as part of the Fo Guang Shan University Consortium.

In the past few decades, Hsing Yun also became increasingly involved in China, where he donated funds for the construction of temples and libraries, ran educational and cultural programs, and promoted cross-strait exchanges.

After suffering strokes in 2011 and 2016, Hsing Yun’s health deteriorated and he began making fewer public appearances.

He officially stepped down as director of Fo Guang Shan in 1985, but remained involved in its operations. The organization has been led by Hsin Bao (心保) since 2013.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday offered their condolences following Hsing Yun’s death, while expressing respect for his legacy of charity and compassion.

Source: Taipei Times