Chapter six: Promoting Dharma extensively, keeping pace with the times

Author:Shi Huikong     Time:2015-03-11 16:42:16
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Master Xuecheng perceptively takes hold of the conditions of today's world to develop a profound insight on the relationship between promoting traditional Chinese culture and revitalizing Buddha's Teachings. As a religious leader, with a broad mind and far-reaching vision not limited to one single religion or sect, Master has suggested to establish a platform for advocating traditional Chinese culture, whose values could provide good solutions to various problems of today's society.

Master believes that Buddhist education should guide the fourfold assembly of disciples to free themselves from primitive, unilateral, backward, short-sighted and outdated thinking, and take a path that leads toward society and the whole world. On one hand, Buddhists should focus on self-cultivation: inspiring others with Dharma, gaining the support of others by virtue, benefiting oneself and others, enlightening oneself and others and engaging oneself with true practice and the true promotion of the Teachings. On the other hand, they must understand the development of Buddhism in this new era, not just focus on the current situation and must learn how to use modern technologies like computers and the Internet. They must make use of methods that are suitable to the lifestyle of people in modern times so as to disseminate the Dharma.

In 2006, time came for Master to use the Internet to promote Buddhism. While on a flight, a friend of Master offered to set up a blog for him. Master accepted it and started the blog on February 21st. Since the blog was launched, Master has posted many entries about how he leads his disciples to integrate the Teachings into real life, modernizing Buddhism. It has received universal acclaim among media, devotees and the general public.

Xu Chang'an, a journalist from China News Agency, once reported in 2006, "Blogs have not been popular in China for very long, but they have extensively attracted netizens, including Chinese Buddhists. Ven. Master Xuecheng, Vice President of Buddhist Association of China showed great interest in blogging, making him 'the first Buddhist monk in China to have a blog'. Master Xuecheng communicates with his students via the blog, as if he were teaching in a real classroom. It has benefited both the teacher and the students. Master's blog has stories about his participation in different events, for example, his speech at the First World Buddhist Forum. There are also Q&A records between him and netizens. The following example clearly indicates the monastic role the blog serves. In August this year, a netizen named Jueyuan posted a question on the blog. He said, 'Venerable Master, I feel that recently I have remained stagnant in my practice. I have failed to get rid of bad habits. I have been chanting Buddha's name and the mantra as usual, but for the past few years I've always felt that I have made little progress. It seems I have reached a bottle-neck and cannot move forward. How can I overcome it?' Master replied, 'There are three criteria that you can use to check whether you have made progress in practice: having subdued afflictions or not; having cultivated firm belief in the law of causality or not; and having followed precepts strictly or not.'"Master talked about the reasons for launching his blog and his opinions about it on Phoenix TV, Hong Kong, in a dialogue session during the 2nd World Buddhist Forum in 2009. He said, "In 2006 one of my friends set up a blog for me on sina.com and then came to the Monastery to give it to me. At that time I had no idea what a blog was, but he convinced me to give it a try. I thought that because he had already set it up, there might be some negative effects if I closed it. Thus I started working on it." 


Reviewing the blog, Jianxing Hall, Beijing Longquan Monastery. December 4th, 2009

"At the beginning, I asked myself how I should proceed. I posted some articles I had previously published. After I had posted them all, I wondered what else I could do. Later I took a survey and found that people are quite interested in how we monks study, practice and cultivate at monasteries. People want to know about what kind of life we live. Since then, the monks at our monastery have been working together on the blog."

"My blog is more than a personal one, it's a blog of many. We write articles and post them on the blog. Once they are posted, many Buddhists, as well as the believers of other religions and non-believers, read them and post their comments. Then I reply to and answer what they have asked. My principle is that as long as you make comments or ask questions, I will respond. Through this process, I have come to realize that to promote Dharma, we must employ modern media and modern communication methods. However large our monastery may be, it's still very difficult for people to come a long way to the monastery to meet a monk. If one lives in Shanghai, or much farther like in Guangzhou, Taiwan, or even the United States or Japan, he or she has to spend a lot of money on airfare as well as a lot of time to come here. With a blog, this problem does not exist. We can post our Dharma lectures in either audio or video format, and can answer questions too. In this way, our thoughts and the Dharma we should preach can all be conveyed to Buddhists and the whole society. I believe that if it were possible, Ven. Master Xuanzang, Ven. Master Kumarajiva and Ven. Master Jianzhen would have set up blogs in their times."

By July 1st, 2014, it had more than 16 million visits, attracting a large number of netizens to study Dharma and serving as a platform for Master to communicate and interact with devotees and people from all walks of life.

After sina.com introduced the function of uploading videos, in March 2009, Master added a video broadcast to the Blog which distributes the Dharma talks, monastic events, and so on.

Master perceptively takes hold of the conditions of today's world to develop a profound insight on the relationship between promoting traditional Chinese culture and revitalizing Buddha's Teachings. As a religious leader, with a broad mind and far-reaching vision not limited to one single religion or sect, Master has suggested to establish a platform for advocating traditional Chinese culture, whose values could provide good solutions to various problems of today's society. This is an action to share the concerns of our nation and reinforce the competitiveness of Chinese nationality. By doing so, Buddhism will also be able to take root in an extended area. Therefore, it facilitates a wonderful combination between patriotism and religious faith, doctrinally reasonable and factually feasible.

From this high standpoint, Master directed the establishing of Voice of Longquan website, which was officially launched at 8:08:08 a.m., August 8th, 2008. At the opening ceremony, Master said, "We have set up the Voice of Longquan website to allow traditional Chinese culture to meet people's needs, to keep pace with the times and to help live up to the fundamental mission of Buddhism. We hope that in the future more and more people will visit and support our website. We hope that it will act as a successful tool for disseminating Dharma, benefiting living beings, promoting traditional Chinese culture and allowing us to communicate with each other and learn the latest news about Buddhism and other religions. Let's make a concerted effort to lead Buddhism onto a track of healthy development. May our bliss and wisdom grow day by day. Today is a new beginning. We will work hard together. Best wishes to you all."

With Buddhism as the core and Confucianism and Taoism as two wings, Voice of Longquan website advocates the thoughts of traditional Chinese culture featured with humanity and harmony, and spreads them throughout the world. The Chinese website comprises channels of Longquan Monastery, Multi-culture, Man and Society, Man and Nature, Cultivation of Mind, Taste of Life, Celebrities' Column, Special Features, etc. Other channels launched at a later time include Master's Blog, E-Paper, Video Station, Longquan Forum, etc. The website allows netizens to learn about traditional Chinese culture. Also, the first foreign language (English) version of the website was launched on the day of the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics (August 24th, 2008), as an effort of international outreach. Regarding the influence of the website, it received 419,261 clicks and 70,318 visits only four months after its launching. These hits were made by 23,083 visitors from 555 cities in 45 countries around the globe. On February 17th, 2011, the Japanese version of Voice of Longquan was launched. It is expected that in the future, other versions will be launched in languages such as Korean, French etc. This is to facilitate the exchanges between the East and the West, and to promote traditional Chinese culture and its values. Up to July 1st, 2014, the page view count of the Voice of Longquan has reached more than 25 million hits.

On April 11th, 2009, Master Xuecheng's Twitter, another platform for promoting Buddhism was established (Chinese:http://zuosa.com/xuechengfashi, English:http://twitter.com/xuecheng). The use of micro-blogging holds great significance, showing that Buddhism keeps pace with trends and has many expedient ways to disseminate Dharma. Master said, "In terms of promoting Dharma, Buddhism should keep pace with the times. It is essential for Buddhism to exist in forms that are easy for people to access. Therefore, we should always promote new methods of communication, cultivating innovation." One of Master's disciples said, "Our teacher is following the trends by using microblogs." Master answered, "No, leading the trend." Other websites that Longquan Monastery has launched later are Voice of Longquan microblog (http://www.longquanzs.org/t), Digu microblog (http://digu.com/xuecheng), Tongxue microblog (http://tongxue.com/shixuecheng) and Sina microblog (http://weibo.com/xuecheng).

Master launched his multilingual microblogs on February 17th (the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar), 2011. On the websites of qq.com, sina.com and bentio.com, microblogs were set up in 8 languages i.e. Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. The Chinese ones are put onhttp://t.qq.com/xuechengfashi,http://weibo.com/xuecheng andhttp://bentio.com/xuechengfashigb, where readers can follow the links to other language editions.

More microblogs of Master have been established in Japan, Korea and Russia, includinghttp://now.ameba.jp/xuechengfashi (Japanese),http://me2day.net/shixuecheng (Korean) andhttp://www.rutwit.ru/xuechengfashi (Russian). On December 21st, 2012, the microblog in Thai was launched.

Master's microblogs are updated daily in 9 different languages, taking a significant step in the international promotion of Dharma. Master's launching of the multilingual microblogs has been reported through dozens of media outlets such as people.com.cn, xinhuanet.com, ifeng.com, chinanews.com, cnr.cn, China Youth Daily, China Culture Report, Beijing Evening News, Global Times (overseas edition), BBC and CNN, etc. "Such an accomplishment is definitely the first in China and is still rare in the rest of the world", remarked people.com.cn. Master's multilingual microblogs are a reflection of his deep devotion and timely mastery of current causes and conditions. By July 1st, 2014, more than 800,000 people in total had become fans of Master's microblogs.

On July 28th, 2011, advancing with the times, Master launched Qing-blog in addition to his blog and microblog accounts. In order to spread Dharma in modern society, Master initiated a cartoon series in Qing-blog, introducing the monks and lay people's lives at Longquan Monastery. The cartoon was created to help people learn about and understand Buddhist Dharma in an easy and relaxing way, so that Buddhist culture could be integrated into people's minds. 


Cartoon series of Master's Qing-blog

In his article "Self-Cultivation and the Spreading of Buddhism under Conditions of Space and Time", Master said, "China has a population exceeding one billion, therefore, we must employ modern technologies to extensively benefit all living beings. Merely relying on traditional forms of communication is no longer sufficient. In this age of information, we should spread Dharma speedily with the help of information technology so that people from all walks of life are able to have access to the voice of the Dharma. Traditional means can hardly offer the same chances of learning Buddha's Teachings as the Internet, which makes promoting Buddhism easy and convenient, regardless of distance. These are the characteristics of this generation. Only when we have a comprehensive understanding of our times, can we do things in a proper way. The agricultural era relies on farming, and farming relies on manual labor. Therefore, many hands make light work. The industrial age relies on machines and science, therefore the more advanced the machines are, the better success there will be. In this post-industrial era, information is valued. If you have a piece of information, you can only succeed when you spread it and make people understand and accept it."

"This is an Internet age. The development of each industry depends on the Internet. Everything is connected to each other in the same way as Internet links up different items totally. Isolation is equivalent to weakness. That's why all industries and organizations rely heavily on the Internet, which shows the strength of collective karma. Being connected as one is collective karma. We will be weak if what we Buddhists do only creates individual karma. If we are weak, we are unable to influence society extensively."

Master complies with specific causes and conditions, and is able to seize opportunities. Master said, "I do not have fixed ideas while doing things. I only possess absolute faith in the Buddha Dharma. Other things can be adjusted according to circumstances."

With favorable causes and conditions, Master started to give speeches and disseminate the Dharma to the general public. On April 21st, 2007, he delivered a lecture entitled "Faith and Life" at Peking University for participants of the "High-level Forum for the Growth of Entrepreneurs". He said in his speech, "Today I'll focus on four points. First, the relation between religious faith and social conditions, second, some characteristics of Buddhist faith, third, the understanding of life and concern for life from the Buddhist perspective, and fourth, the fact that Buddhism teaches people to explore the issue of happiness and sufferings of our body and mind."

On March 9th, 2008, Master gave a speech entitled "Strengthening the Development of National Culture as a Soft Power" at the 3rd session of the 11th National Committee of CPPCC. He said, "The building of Chinese soft power will never attack, dissolve or erode the cultural values of other civilizations, therefore it will never pose a threat to the cultural values of other civilizations. It endeavors to demonstrate the immortal wisdom in its civilization which represents the universal values. It also acknowledges that the same or similar immortal wisdom exists in other civilizations as well. Meanwhile, it also appreciates and respects the uniqueness of other different civilizations. Exclusiveness, homogeneity, domination and expansionism do not correspond with the internal logic of the Chinese civilization. Therefore, cultural hegemony, cultural imperialism and cultural colonialism do not fit into Chinese civilization. Its major attribute is harmony." 

On November 21st, 2008, Master gave a speech at Peking University entitled "Cultural Soft Power and Buddhist Culture". About 500 people attended the lecture, including faculty and students of Peking University and lay Buddhists. Master elaborated on Buddhist culture, its relationship to the soft power of Chinese culture and their present and future issues.

On December 11th, 2008, Master was invited by the Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Religious Theory of Renmin University of China to give a lecture entitled "The Universal Value of Buddhist Culture". About 500 people attended the lecture, including Prof. Fang Litian, Prof. Zhang Fenglei, Prof. Zhang Wenliang, Prof. Wen Jinyu, monastics, lay Buddhists, and students from different universities. In his speech, Master explained how to realize the universal values, how to dispel the public's mysterious impression about Buddhism, how to clear up superstition, what true and complete Dharma is, the differences and relationship between Buddhism and science, what is the Buddha's Teaching on Dependent Arising, what are religious lineages about, etc. Master also expressed his insights on Buddha's Teachings and sutras. 

On December 12th, 2009, upon invitation by the National Library, Master gave a lecture there entitled "The Modern Significance of Buddhist Culture". The theme of the speech was interpreted from three aspects: the fundamental connotations of Chinese Buddhist culture, the localization and socialization of Chinese Buddhist culture and the modern significance of Chinese Buddhist culture. Master initiated the concept of "Culture of the Mind" in his lecture. He said, "To seek 'Culture of the Mind' means that we should try to find causes in ourselves and in our minds and create no opposition. A harmonious world begins with our minds. Confronting globalization, the fundamentals of Buddhist culture are human, the mind, and the good and evil in our minds. When we are in a state of purity, harmony, joy, tranquility and serenity, we will find peace and harmony in our minds, our family, our community, our country and the world. In respect of 'Culture of the Mind', Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism can learn from each other and complement each other. Buddhists in different countries can communicate and cooperate with each other in the field of spiritual building. Buddhist culture will make considerable contributions to the cultural and ideological progress of modern society."

On July 16th, 2010, Master was invited by the CPPCC Shanghai Committee to give a speech entitled "Trend of Chinese Buddhist Culture from a Global Perspective". More than 500 people, including Feng Guoqin, Chairman of the CPPCC Shanghai Committee, attended the lecture. Master remarked, "Globalization brings unprecedented opportunity as well as unprecedented crises. Buddhism can respond well to many major problems caused by globalization. For example, Buddhism and science can accord with each other and complement one another so as to further harmonious development of both material and spiritual civilization. A harmonious co-existence between man and nature can be achieved by following Buddhist concepts of environmental protection and the Buddhist tradition of following precepts. Buddhism has rich thoughts and a long tradition of peace which can promote the establishment of lasting peace. Buddhism can also strengthen the in-depth exchange between Eastern and Western culture." Master also clarified some common misunderstandings about Buddhism. He specifically explained the meaning and significance of the idea that "Contentment is happiness". He pointed out that Chinese Buddhism has gone through localization and socialization and that along with China's increasing influence in the world, Chinese Buddhism is also reaching out to the world. It will play a unique and positive role in promoting religious reconciliation and world peace.

On August 10th, 2010, Master was invited by the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to give a speech entitled "Gather Wisdom to Jointly Build Culture of the Mind". It was said that this was the first time the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences invited a Buddhist monk to give a lecture. Master focused his talk on the major problems of our times, analyzed the causes of these problems from different perspectives and levels and clarified the fact that all problems are caused by our minds. He also expounded on the relationship among Buddhism, philosophy and science, cleared up common misunderstandings and prejudices against Buddhism and stated the current situation of Chinese Buddhism and its achievements. Moreover, he explained the positive effects of Buddhist ideas and values, cultivation systems, traditions and customs on human society. In particular, he explained the benefits brought by Buddha's Teachings like Dependent Arising, Emptiness of Nature and Consciousness-Only to contemporary science and philosophy.

On December 28th, 2010, Master was invited to give an academic report entitled "Social Responsibility of Chinese Buddhist Culture" at the First Humanities and Religion Summit held at Beijing Normal University. Master expounded on three parts: the historic process and social function of Chinese Buddhist culture, the modern social responsibility of Chinese Buddhist culture, and the future social mission of Chinese Buddhist culture.


On May 5th, 2011, Master was invited by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of the North China Electric Power University to give a lecture on "Buddhism and Culture of the Mind". Master was the first Buddhist monk lecturer that had been invited by the University since its establishment in 1958. In his lecture, Master pointed out, "Buddhism teaches us what we are supposed to do, rather than what we like to do. Buddhism enables one to set up a high-profile life philosophy, gain a general perspective  of life and map a blueprint of life. People need to have visions to inspire themselves in pursuit of dreams and goals."

On June 25th, 2011, Master was again requested to deliver a speech entitled "Buddhist Ethics and Social Morality" at Beijing Normal University. Master stressed, "Buddhist ethics imply profound and broad compatibility. Its fundamental teachings are able to cover both material and spirit, the mundane world and beyond. Both eternity and modernity are involved."

On September 16th, 2011, Master was invited by the Qixia District Government of Nanjing to deliver a lecture entitled "Views on Happiness in Life" at Nanjing University. More than 1,000 people including government officials, monks, lay Buddhists, businessmen, other guests and staff of the University were present to listen to the compassionate lecture. In the lecture, Master talked about the conditions of happiness, views on happiness in the ancient and present times and views of happiness in Chinese Buddhism. Master analyzed the common problems concerning happiness that entrepreneurs especially would encounter in their life, work and Buddhist faith. 

On October 20th, 2011, Master was invited by the Research Institute of Religion and Culture and the Center for Buddhist Education Research at Peking University to give a lecture on "An Overview of Chinese Buddhist Education" at its Centennial Auditorium, a multi-functional hall. Master stated, "Since its spread to China, Buddhism has been integrated with Confucianism and Taoism. It later mingled with contemporary Western culture, making its educational means and content richer and more diverse. It has exerted great influence on both ancient and modern Chinese society. In the future, Buddhism will develop toward socialization and globalization and will have a positive impact on the construction of Chinese culture and world peace."

On June 7th, 2012, Ven. Master Xuecheng gave a lecture entitled "Chinese Buddhism and Cultural Self-confidence" at the Run Run Shaw Center of China University of Political Science and Law. In the lecture, Master gave elaborative interpretation on five important topics, from the rise and fall and future of Chinese Buddhism, the connotation and significance of cultural self-confidence, the content and self-confidence of Chinese culture, the significance and self-confidence of Chinese Buddhism in modern time, to the role of Chinese Buddhism in promoting self-confidence in contemporary Chinese culture.

On September 26th, 2012, at the invitation of the College of Law and Politics of the Communication University of China, Ven. Master Xuecheng delivered a lecture entitled "Moral Self-discipline and Cultural Self-confidence". In the lecture, Master stated that, "The lack of Morality is the root cause of contemporary world's crisis. While morality should be achieved through self-discipline; however, the underlying cause for the lack of self-discipline is due to the excessive spread of materialism, individualism and the lack of religious faith in the modern society. Compared to external material or external factors, the power of inner faith is a more effective tool for the improvement of individual and social moral ethics. Faith is a stabilizing power in shaping an individual personality. A person of faith would genuinely regulate his or her own conducts."

On November 8th, 2012, as a representative of the Chinese religious community, Ven. Master Xuecheng was invited to attend the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China as a non-voting delegate. According to Xinhuanet, Master was moved after reading the Report of the 18th Congress and exclaimed that Buddhism has been advocating for "a vision of a grandeur land that are benefiting sentient beings". The ultimate goal is to help people eliminate suffering and attain a prosperous and happy life. The report of the 18th Congress not only cares about improving the material living standards of the masses but also places deep importance on the spiritual happiness of people. "This is a very noble and wise political proposal, which will guide China on a right path of social development." said the Master.

On November 20th, 2012, Ven. Master Xuecheng was invited to give a lecture entitled "Buddhism and Social Construction" at the Run Run Shaw Center of the Renmin University of China to an audience of nearly 500 people. The audience included teachers and students of Renmin University as well as the participants of the 7th Research and Studies Class for the Religious Patriotic Personage studying at Renmin University. The main topics of Master's lecture included: the social function of Buddhism in ancient China; the social function of Buddhism in modern China, the needs and opportunities of modern China social construction, the positive function of Buddhism in contemporary social construction, the strength and potential of Chinese Buddhism that are yet to be fully explored.

On April 27th, 2013, Ven. Master Xuecheng was invited to give a lecture entitled "The Construction of Ecological Civilization from the Perspective of Buddhism" at Beihang University. Over 300 teachers and students of Beihang University, Tsinghua University and Peking University etc., attended the lecture. In the lecture, Master stated, "Compared to modern ecological movement, the environmentalism connotation in traditional Chinese culture is much more vivid and vibrant, among which Buddhist environmental principles are also of special abundance and are a potentially useful resource. This would be exactly the right opportunities to take advantage of Buddhism's ecological wisdom and its moral principles in the construct of Chinese ecological development model, and to promote and improve citizen's ecological awareness."

On April 28th, 2014, Master was invited by the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to give a lecture entitled "A Retrospect of Chinese Buddhism on Modern Civilization". Over 600 teachers and students of this School attended the lecture. Ven. Master Xuecheng gave a detailed elaboration on this topic from the following four important perspectives: the positive and negative effects of the rise of modern civilization; the sources of the drawbacks of modern civilization; possible solutions offered by Buddhism to problems created by modern civilization and the role that Chinese Buddhism should play.

On May 28th, 2014, at the invitation of the School of Chinese Culture of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Master gave a lecture entitled "The Disease of Body and the Disease of Mind". Over 400 teachers and students of the school listened to the lecture with respect. At the beginning of the lecture, Master pointed out that everyone is bound to face birth, aging, illness and death. He further said, "Disease can be divided into the disease of body and the disease of mind: Disease of body refers to the suffering in a person's physical body, while disease of mind refers to the problems and suffering existing in a person's inner mind. Buddhism is relevant to medical science on both levels, which is why another name of Shakyamuni Buddha is the Great Doctor. The role of Buddhist masters is mainly to guide us on the elimination of negative emotions and emotional suffering, while medical doctors mainly focus on curing the suffering caused illness of body."

On June 17th, 2014, Ven. Master Xuecheng gave a lecture entitled "Cultivate the Body and Cultivate the Mind" at the invitation of China Academy of TCM. According to Master, modern people have been extremely busy, that they have lost their sense of "home" and are wandering on an emotional and spiritual level. People are constantly being polluted by endless stream of unhealthy information and are often being "controlled" by modern science and technologies. As a result, people often neglect their intrinsic wisdom and vitality which lead to manifestations of various emotional and physical illness. The remedy to such illness is through practice of Buddhism or other faiths.

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