Speech at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Buddha’s Finger Relic Recovery at the Famen Temple

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2017-11-23 22:33:25
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Buddhism and the Famen Temple did a great contribution and created wonderful culture in Chinese history. Now in the new era of building a modern socialist country, we should make unrelenting efforts in researching the profound meanings of Buddhist doctrine, expounding the realistic significance of culture and history of the Famen temple. We should follow President Xi Jinping’s initiative and make a deep study on the cultural and spiritual meanings of historical relics, ‘bring cultural relics to life,’ thus making Chinese culture reach for the world.

Connecting People over the Seas, the Buddha Dharma has spread across the Continents

-Speech at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Buddha’s Finger Relic Recovery at the Famen Temple

23rd November 2017

By Xuecheng

President of the Buddhist Association of China

Abbot of the Famen Temple

Distinguished Deputy Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, 

Mr. Jiang Jianyong

Distinguished Vice Governor of Shaanxi Provincial Government, Mr. Wei Zengjun

Mr. Hui Jincai, Mayor of Baoji Municipal Government

Honorable leaders, venerable masters, dear guests and lay Buddhists:

        Today, we are greatly delighted to welcome the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Buddha’s Finger Relic Recovery, the discovery of a Tang-Dynasty Underground Palace and the Public Appearance of the Tang Dynasty Treasures.  Now on behalf of the Buddhist Association of China and the twofold assembly of Famen Temple,  I'd like to extend our warmest welcome and express our heartfelt gratitude to the venerable masters at home and abroad, the leaders and the guests attending this event today.


        On April 3rd of the Chinese lunar calendar in 1987, the Underground Palace of the Famen Temple was unearthed again after having hidden for 1113 years. Subsequently, on April 8th of the Chinese lunar calendar of the same year, which was also the birth day of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Buddha finger relics were revealed to the public once again. These two major events of both national and Buddhist significance lit up the world attracting worship from all walks of life.


        Three decades ago, upon returning to Beijing from a visit to Thailand, our Rev. Zhao Puchu rushed to the temple without a moment’s rest. Before paying homage to the genuine relics of the Buddha, he couldn’t control his emotions and composed a poem to eulogize the occasion, “The invaluable Buddhist shrines were unearthed, illuminating the past and the present in a groundbreaking manner.” At the same time, together with Ji Xianlin, a famous professor of Peking University, Rev. Zhao gathered experts and scholars from across the country to authenticate over 2000 items unearthed from the Underground Palace of the Tang Dynasty. The cultural relics unearthed at the time were unrivalled in terms of quantity, category, grade, dating and preservation in the history of Buddhist archaeology of the Sui and Tang dynasties. It was a significant archeological discovery in China since the finding of the Terra Cotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, and was named “the conclusive excavation in Buddhist and Tang-Dynasty archeology.” It was also of great historical and academic value to research in the histories of socio-politics, economy, religion, culture, arts, science, technology and Sino-foreign cultural exchanges. It was a remarkable blessing in the history of human culture. Supported and facilitated by relevant state departments and Rev. Zhao respectively, and with the joint efforts of the local authorities of Shaanxi province, Baoji City and Fufeng County, the Famen Temple was renovated, and the Pagoda was reconstructed. Its cultural relics were sent to Beijing for display during the NPC and CPPCC and caused exhilarations in the capital. In 1988, the Buddhist Association of China hosted the Grand Memorial Dharma Assembly for Buddha’s True Body Finger Bone Relics. Famen Temple was then officially open to the public, heralding a new era for the holy place.


        For over three decades, the construction boom of Famen Temple gained momentum and reached remarkable achievements owing to the support and assistance from local authorities of Shaanxi province, Baoji City,  Fufeng County and the people of Famen Town. The temple territory was expanded, the Pagoda was reconstructed, and great achievements have been made. The Mahavira Hall, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Sutra Repository, the Vairocana Hall, the Jade Buddha Hall, the Hall of Patriarchs and the Buddhist Academy of Famen Temple have risen up as well as other Tang-era like architectures. 

        Established in 2004, the Buddhist Academy of Famen Temple has been making steady progress and has realized sound achievements in talent cultivation, academic research and external exchanges.  It has provided numerous outstanding monks to various parts of the nation. The Buddhist Academy of Famen Temple and the Famen Temple Museum have jointly held over ten international academic symposiums on history, Buddhism, archaeology, literature and art. Cultural topics on Tan-Dynasty Esoteric Buddhism, tea, Mandala, olive-green porcelain and glass ware were actively discussed. These series of activities have shaped the Famen monastic culture and formed an enthusiastic research community on the culture of Famen Temple, which has brought out rich achievements with profound and lasting influence.


        Connecting people over the seas, the Buddha Dharma has spread across the continents. The recovery of the Buddha’s relics became a world renowned event. The Famen Temple has not only attracted friends, Buddhist believers from all over the world to visit and worship, but also has built bridges of peace and friendship for our nation’s harmonious relations with neighboring counties as well as friendly exchanges with the Four Districts of Cross-straits.  In 1994, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand and the 50th coronation anniversary of the King of Thailand, the Buddha finger relic was brought to Thailand for an 85-day worshipping assembly. It immediately created a great sensation in Thailand where the king of Thailand and his queen and the Thai prime minister went to worship followed by thousands of others.  The event became a much told tale on the Sino-Thailand friendship and marked an unprecedented accomplishment in Buddhism history.  “Both sides of the Taiwan strait share the light of Buddha.” In 2002, the Buddha’s finger relic was escorted by a delegation led by Master Hsing Yun to Taiwan for a worship ceremony spanning 37 days. This rare occasion threw the entire island into celebration and thousands flocked to worship the relic day and night. This record-breaking event marked the greatest nongovernmental ceremony in the history of Taiwan in terms of scale, profile, influence, significance and the number of worshippers. It also contributed to unparalleled integration and unity of the Chinese people. In 2004, the Buddha’s finger relic was brought to Hong Kong for worship, which became an unprecedentedly grand occasion touching the hearts of many. And in 2005, the Buddha’s finger relic was escorted to the Republic of Korea for worship thereby writing a new chapter in Sino-Korea relations and inserting a glorious page in the histories of China and the world of Buddhism.


        Today, we gather here at Famen Temple to hold the 30th anniversary celebration commemorating the recovery of Buddha’s finger relics and the discovery of the Underground Palace and the Tang-Dynasty treasures, as well as the Buddha’s finger relic worshipping and blessing prayer Dharma Assembly. It is such a great chance for us to be together with so many distinguished guests and friends to celebrate the grand event. We are all blessed with inconceivable merit and virtue. More than 2000 years ago, Ashoka sent the Buddha’s finger relics to China, a fertile land. It is a grand fortune for our nation and our people. After the unearthing of the Buddha’s relics and the Underground Palace, with the support of the four types of Buddhist followers, Famen Temple has become a place of pilgrimage known both at home and abroad, a famous tourist attraction, and a base for academic and cultural research exchange, as well as for talent cultivation.

        Lotus Sutra says, 'All the Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, appear in the world only because of the causes and conditions of the one great matter.’ ‘Connecting people over the seas, the Buddha Dharma has spread across the continents.’ This great cause makes us feel gloried with heavy responsibilities and know the goals and directions clearly. Buddhism and the Famen Temple did a great contribution and created wonderful culture in Chinese history. Now in the new era of building a modern socialist country, we should make unrelenting efforts in researching the profound meanings of Buddhist doctrine, expounding the realistic significance of culture and history of the Famen temple. We should follow President Xi Jinping’s initiative and make a deep study on the cultural and spiritual meanings of historical relics, ‘bring cultural relics to life,’ thus making Chinese culture reach for the world.

        This is a precious place for undertaking the Buddha’s cause. With this responsibility on our shoulders, we keep in mind the words of wisdom given by Rev. Zhao Puchu 30 years ago at the Famen Temple: “Focus the light of your mind to matters near and far, and never forget that the future is watching us.” We will continue to make Famen Temple better serve society and benefit people in the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and to realize the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we will make great vows, strike the Dharma drum louder than ever, and strive for a bright future.

        May you have an auspicious day! Thank you!

Editor:Bella Liu
Tags:Buddha’s Finger Relic Recovery, Famen Temple, cultural relics, Chinese dream

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