the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Which of the Four Buddhist Moutains of Taiwan resonates the most with you?

Dharma Drum Mountain/ Fa Gu Shan
3
38%
Fo Guang Shan/ Buddha's Light Mountain
2
25%
Tzu Chi/ Great Compassion Relief
1
13%
Chung Tai Chan (Ven. Wei Chueh)
2
25%
 
Total votes : 8

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:12 am

Lest this sound too much like a rant I should say that eventually there were broad accomodations made for me. But I was told by several high up people that to integrate into the monastery I would have to go through the seminary eventually, so it seemed like just postponing the inevitable.

Part of my decision not to continue was that I simply felt I was not intelligent enough to succeed in the environment. I knew that positions were decided primarily by intelligence and ability. There were many people in the monastery, some extremely intelligent. So it was a steep mountain to climb. I was afraid in a way of ending up in a kitchen or clerical position, which, while for a few years would be fine (not averse to doing my time as a novice), a lifetime of that seemed frightening indeed.But again, as I am not particularly intelligent, the possiblity of a lifetime spent in such a position was a very real prospect.

I also felt the absence of a teacher of some realization who I could have some face-to-face interaction with.

Since there was nothing I could do in the short term to increase my IQ, it seemed to make more sense to go somewhere where my mediocrity would not be such an obstacle.

The Tibetans while not able to offer stability or real financial support are generally for me easier to get along with (though a big part of this might simply be that I know the language).

And the Westerners in Tibetan Buddhism don't need me to be a prodigy to have an interesting role in the centres. Being able to translate the teachings of the geshe (even if I have to ask back from time to time about things I didn't understand right away) is enough to make most people happy. If I cook some meals and clean up from time to time, I'm set. Though when I get old, I don't expect to be taken care of, which, to be fair, is something the Taiwanese organizations do - look after their aged monks and nuns.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby icylake » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:02 pm

Huseng wrote:
icylake wrote: i agree with your opinion in general. but i think we must consider Japanese buddhism itself has very distinctive Japanese characteristics,


Of course. I'm not saying Japanese Buddhism is a mirror reflection of Tang Dynasty Buddhism, though they did successfully receive, record, transmit and preserve much of it. For example, Tentai, Shingon, Kegon and a number of temples like Todai-ji, Gango-ji, Kofuku-ji and so on can all trace their lineages but also their material culture (scriptures, artwork, architecture, etc...) directly to Tang China. They still preserve the old architectural styles in many cases and have them well documented and studied. Moreover, Japan preserved a number of key texts that were lost in China for any number of reasons.

So, looking at how Buddhism developed in China compared to what the Japanese did with what they got from the Tang Dynasty, the true heirs of Tang Buddhism are found in Japan. I know that's a volatile statement to make, but the Japanese just preserved their ancient Buddhism better than the Chinese did. Moreover, there seems to be little interest in Taiwan when it comes to reviving classical forms in favor of their reformed and quite modernized developments. But then as with much of contemporary Chinese culture there is something of a widespread disdain for China's past culture whether it is admitted or not.


yes i agree with most of your view points, especially, Shin-gon sect and lineages. ;) but i'm still very interented in the specifiic development of Japanese buddhism. becuase all of buddhiam in East Asian countries (China, Korea, Vietnam)experienced the assimilation of various sects.after Tang-Song. only Japanese Buddhism had never..further more the sectarianim became far more rigid. in fact, in Nara buddhism, there had not been that rigid devisions between various Schools(yes, schools). take a example, Todaiji has been "learning eight schools(八種兼學)" from it's start.

thank you for your opinions. Japan still is, in many ways, regarded as the "fosil of tang dynasty". :bow:
icylake
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Devotionary » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:29 pm

I have been a disciple of Chung Tai for over 6, 7 years now, and I can say, it's been helpful to me. I took refuge with Master Wei Chueh, and am glad I did.

Ven. Wei Chueh is also an heir to the Lin-ji (Rinzai) lineage, and there is no conflict with Fo Guang; it seems that Vens. Wei Chueh and Hsing Yun mutually recognize each other's accomplishments/authority to teach/goals, and they are on good terms.

I think Chung Tai is probably the most contemplative of the four; whereas DDM and FGS focus on scholarship and the academe, whereas Tzu Chi focuses on humanitarian aid, Chung Tai focuses on liturgy, silent retreats and contemplative practices. Although there is a scholarly translation team that writes commentaries on the Sutras, etc, these are more meant for internal reading.

Hmmmm, if I were to make an analogy of sorts (for those familiar with Catholic orders), FGS would be very similar to the Jesuits, with their emphasis on a wholistic approach to cultivation, linking scholarly research and social action. Chung Tai would be much like the Franciscans or even the Opus Dei, with their focus on doctrine, contemplative, and personal/austere and meditation practice.
Devotionary
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:30 pm

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Devotionary » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:39 pm

Huseng wrote:
icylake wrote:if one wanted to know what Chinese Busshiam is, then Foguangshan would be the best choice. their linage came from Lin ji Chan tradition(Rinzai Japan, lIm je, Korea, lam the, Vietnam), but since Chinese Lin ji sect had evolved to hybrid of pure land and zen practice after Song dynasty, so main practice of Foguangshan is very like that of pure land-Nian Fo-


They also threw out the old pagan gods of old from the temples. You don't even see much of the old Dharma Guardians that are commonly found in more traditional temples and of course Japan where they have preserved a lot of Chinese Buddhism that was otherwise abandoned or destroyed in China and Taiwan. In some ways Japan has better preserved classical Chinese Buddhism than later and modern China did. The true heirs to Tang Dynasty Buddhism are found in Japan ironically.


Interesting. Chung Tai is likewise very stringent when it comes to folk devotions; I notice in the liturgies, we avoid terms such as 齋天 (offering to celestial beings), and the Shifus are somewhat cold to the idea of propitiating protecting local deities and heavenly beings (such as what can be found in Tibetan Pujas). That being said, every major ceremony involves inviting strictly Buddhist deities found in the Sutras; ex. inviting the Twelve Yaksha Generals, inviting the Vajra-protectors of the Diamond Sutra, the Four Heavenly Kings, etc. It's a bit of an irony but I guess it all goes with Chung Tai's commitment to orthodoxy and tradition.
Devotionary
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:30 pm

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:35 pm

Devotionary wrote:Interesting. Chung Tai is likewise very stringent when it comes to folk devotions; I notice in the liturgies, we avoid terms such as 齋天 (offering to celestial beings), and the Shifus are somewhat cold to the idea of propitiating protecting local deities and heavenly beings (such as what can be found in Tibetan Pujas). That being said, every major ceremony involves inviting strictly Buddhist deities found in the Sutras; ex. inviting the Twelve Yaksha Generals, inviting the Vajra-protectors of the Diamond Sutra, the Four Heavenly Kings, etc. It's a bit of an irony but I guess it all goes with Chung Tai's commitment to orthodoxy and tradition.


I believe this is common to much of the reformed versions of Chinese Buddhism found in Taiwan. They cast out all the pagan gods of old in an attempt to foster their vision of orthodoxy, though in reality this was probably just an unconscious emulation of Christian habits where strong religious identity is promoted as a means of competing with other religions and Buddhist sects. It was also a means of consolidating ecclesiastical authority and resources. By discouraging people from participating in respectful veneration of local gods they ensured the devotees would spend their resources and time in their organizations and nowhere else. This of course is said to be only proper as devotees should stay away from externalists (waidao 外道), but such disrespect for worldly gods reflects Christian influences more than anything else.

Part of the problem in the past was a widespread perceived failure of Chinese Buddhism on the mainland. Free agents in Taiwan after WWII when the Japanese withdrew were able to initiate reforms and craft new organizations in their own visions without having to answer to any powerful hierarchies or overarching organizations. Hence, they could build new institutions from the ground up without even having to actively purge disagreeable elements.

Orthodoxy in this sense reflects a kind of Buddhism with many subtle Christian influences. I've often sensed in Taiwanese Buddhism a strong sense of appreciation for Catholicism. A lot of major Chinese Buddhist authors of the 20th century studied Christianity and even had a degree of contact with institutions like the Catholic Church. These exchanges still occur and are widely advertised as quite positive.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5949
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Astus » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:59 pm

Huseng wrote:Orthodoxy in this sense reflects a kind of Buddhism with many subtle Christian influences. I've often sensed in Taiwanese Buddhism a strong sense of appreciation for Catholicism. A lot of major Chinese Buddhist authors of the 20th century studied Christianity and even had a degree of contact with institutions like the Catholic Church. These exchanges still occur and are widely advertised as quite positive.


I didn't hear about that but it certainly explains a few things.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4142
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:17 pm

Astus wrote:
Huseng wrote:Orthodoxy in this sense reflects a kind of Buddhism with many subtle Christian influences. I've often sensed in Taiwanese Buddhism a strong sense of appreciation for Catholicism. A lot of major Chinese Buddhist authors of the 20th century studied Christianity and even had a degree of contact with institutions like the Catholic Church. These exchanges still occur and are widely advertised as quite positive.


I didn't hear about that but it certainly explains a few things.


I recently came to connect the dots.

It is another example of modern Chinese culture disdaining their native traditions while glorifying and emulating western models. The nuns were granted better status no doubt as a result of feminist influences from abroad. The way institutions are organized reflects a very European approach to religion rather than a traditionally Chinese one. For example, having one chief at the head of a massive organization with all staff and clergy answering to a single administrative entity, and all the money, assets and property belonging to it is vastly different from the old model of having autonomous temples with an abbot and his staff who would manage it without answering to anyone. This made it easy to be a wandering monk. It also made it impossible for any institution to have a religious monopoly.

Come to think of it, I've never actually read or heard of a Taiwanese Buddhist author or master criticizing the Catholic Church or even directly calling them externalists. Like I said, they advertise their meetings like it was some great exchange of minds. I don't think the Daoists get the same treatment, but I might be wrong.

Much like how economic and political models in Taiwan are based on what they observe in the west, the same seems to go for the new religious forms.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5949
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:21 pm

Sallie King makes similar observations on the influence of Catholic relief organizations on her examples of engaged Buddhist practices in Taiwan. (this is in Being Benevolence)
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5433
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby icylake » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:02 pm

in fact chatholic modei is seriously considered as the model of reformation by many Korean buddhist reformists. because Jogye order has too many monastery clans and various lineages in it, many times really can not handle them succesfully. all of decisions must be made by consultation with all of clans, even designation of an official post have to consider all of lineages, the conflicts between each leanages and monastery clans always the topic of buddhist news papers.

and in modern society, maintining the Bai zhang rules itself seemed to be ridiculous. because Bai Zhang rule itself has very strong monk-centric, autonomy principles. all of tasks are handled by monks, even financial, the laity's participation of running the temple and monastery is severly banned. ann lack of supervision would cause the corruption. monk gambling made whole Korean buddhists feel ashamed a few back was terrific example.

so i've read some article stating that Jogye order sent observatory group to Fo Guang Shan in Korean Buddhist nesws paper. anyway chatholic church's efficiency and administrations are worth reffering. i think.
icylake
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:50 am

icylake wrote:so i've read some article stating that Jogye order sent observatory group to Fo Guang Shan in Korean Buddhist nesws paper. anyway chatholic church's efficiency and administrations are worth reffering. i think.


Much of the Catholic Church is in decline in the First World at least. I don't think they are a good model to learn from (they also can't control their clergy any better just because of their administration).

The Korean scandal with monks gambling was of course shameful, but even in strict and rigid hierarchies the same thing occurs.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5949
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: the Four Mountains (Big Monasteries) of Taiwan

Postby Devotionary » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:07 pm

You mentioned:

"Come to think of it, I've never actually read or heard of a Taiwanese Buddhist author or master criticizing the Catholic Church or even directly calling them externalists. Like I said, they advertise their meetings like it was some great exchange of minds. I don't think the Daoists get the same treatment, but I might be wrong."

And also:
"The Korean scandal with monks gambling was of course shameful, but even in strict and rigid hierarchies the same thing occurs."


I would think that:

1. Accepting influences from other faiths or systems is not inherently evil or un-Buddhist. In the case of these big organizations, there is the added benefit of having a close-at-hand community (which I think is precisely one of the main reaons the Buddha established the organized Sangha) to have a sense of checks-and-balance; whereas it IS true that individual monks and practitioners may get away with breaking the Vinaya, etc, having an ogranization would at least foster an environment where this is discouraged, and when committed, corrected. (No system is perfect, but that doesn't mean we should abandon order altogether.)

Certainly, Tzu Chi has been more effective in bringing aid to my country (Philippines) by coordinating with local Catholic charities. (Even the local Nyingma centers work with Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity). If they avoid taking on Catholic influences or meeting with Catholic leaders just to be "more Chinese/not contrary to Chinese tradition," that wouldn't be so compassionate, would it?

2. A very important and distinct difference between big Catholic and Buddhist organizations: The Four Mountains have not (and hopefully will not) instigated bloody, violent inquisitions to "destroy the old pagan gods." They do NOT explicitly ban the worship of these deities nor do they advocate scorn for these religions (take note than in materials written by these groups regarding folk deities, they always prescribe respect; NOT to burn or destroy these "idols"--they don't even use the term idolatry, which in itself is a Christian term!--but to treat them precisely the same way the Sutras record them: sentient beings with great virtue and power, but not totally enlightened.)

"Keeping a respectful distance" is quite different from "casting out the old Gods." From my conversations with monks from all four groups on the subject of folk worship, the strongest answer I've gotten was "there are different methods of cultivation, but worshiping Mazu/Tu Di GOng/etc isn't one of them." Far from the "burn the heretic!" attitude Catholics espouse :p

It was likewise mentioned:

" They cast out all the pagan gods of old in an attempt to foster their vision of orthodoxy, though in reality this was probably just an unconscious emulation of Christian habits where strong religious identity is promoted as a means of competing with other religions and Buddhist sects."

"It is another example of modern Chinese culture disdaining their native traditions while glorifying and emulating western models."



I highly disagree with this. From personal experience, the Four Mountains and other Buddhist groups are VERY careful to criticize other monks or institutions. THis is markedly different from Christian groups' hack-and-slash treatment of competing sects. Likewise, these institutions are instrumental in preserving traditional Chinese culture, especially for overseas Chinese communities! In fact, they advocate thorough study of Chinese history, classics, Confucius etc.

But I think the most interesting point is this:

"Much of the Catholic Church is in decline in the First World at least. I don't think they are a good model to learn from (they also can't control their clergy any better just because of their administration)."


Voila! I am of the opinion that, ironically, most who question the use of organizations in religion are from the West. Precisely because of Western history and personal experience. Asians, on the other hand, are more flexible than that; historically, we have adapted many a Western idea to suit local situations and needs. Would it too impossible to think that perhaps Buddhism can benefit from secular/Western influences? :p
Devotionary
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:30 pm

Previous

Return to East Asian Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

>