Life Stages

The First 10 Years: Growing Up (Age 1 to 10)
  1. Born in a rural village, the poverty of his family and influence of his maternal grandmother helped him nurture a compassionate and hardworking nature.
  2. Being Hardworking: He would tidy up the house while his family was out to work, hoping to give his parents a pleasant surprise when they got home.  His experiences in boiling water, cooking meals, chopping wood, herding cattle and ploughing fields enabled him to focus on being practical rather than theoretical.
  3. Being Compassionate: Venerable Master's maternal grandmother was a pious and devoted Buddhist who had a compassionate heart.  Being influenced by her, he never dared to kill a mosquito, a fly, or an ant, and was very loving towards small animals.  He once took care of an injured chick until it was able to lay eggs. Injured pigeons and squirrels could often be found inside the Founding Master's House at Fo Guang Shan.  It is hard to keep count of the numbers of animals he has taken care of over the past thirty years.  Fo Guang Shan went from a place where no birds would lay their eggs to being home today.
The Second 10 Years: Learning (Age 11 to 20)
  1. Having become a monastic at twelve, he began to live a disciplined and regulated life within the monastery.  The Buddhist College's tough punishments and teaching methods that gave no chance for reasoning allowed him to readily admit his mistakes and even accept heartless punishments without making any complaints.
  2. Being penniless at this stage of life fostered his habit of "not buying." A letter written by him would sit there for a year; it was never mailed out because he could not afford postage stamps.  When his socks were worn-out, he would glue them with paper. When his shoes were damaged, he would use thick paper and plank pads as substitutes.  Poverty stimulates one's wisdom.  Therefore, no matter how adverse the circumstance is, there is always a way to overcome problems and obstacles.
  3. Treating nothing as everything in his life, he is able to take on any hardships and pain.  His three meals were often as simple as plain rice with tea.  "One bowl of rice with one dish and one soup."  He stuck to this principle throughout his life.  He never went on vacations and always seized every minute in taking care of affairs on the road.  Therefore, his idea of living a 300-year-old life by working 3 times as hard was developed during this period.
The Third 10 Years: Acquiring Knowledge (Age 21 to 30)
  1. Despite a lack of formal education, he did receive a complete Buddhist education.  He left the Buddhist College at the age of twenty, and served as the principal of an elementary school, where he learned about administration and interpersonal coordination skills.
  2. He attended talks given by Venerable Master Tai Hsu, became acquainted with Venerable Tai Tsang, the abbot of Jin Shan Temple, and acted as an interpreter for Master Miao Guo after his arrival in Taiwan.  He also discussed with Venerable Tzu Hang the future of Buddhism, shared opinions with Venerable Da Shing on the modernization and systemization of Buddhism, and talked to Venerable Tung Chu on issues such as "Benefiting oneself and others," "Between the Traditional and the Modern Age," and so on.
  3. Between the age of 23 and 30, he visited various Buddhist temples throughout Taiwan.  He took many kinds of transportation vehicles and received invitation from the military to give Dharma talks to the armed forces of the land, sea, and air, where he was escorted by military aircrafts and battleships.
The Fourth 10 Years: Literature (Age 31 to 40)
  1. When he began to propagate the Dharma in Ilan at the age of twenty-six, he realized that it would be difficult to stand on one's own feet in society without a special skill, therefore, he began writing as a means to spread the Dharma.
  2. Becoming acquainted with literary faces is a way to promote the Buddhist culture.  Writers such as Kuo Si-fen, Gong Sun Yan, Chu Chiao, He Fan, Gao Yang and Si-ma Zong-yuang, all became his very good literary friends.
  3. Besides writing, he also edited articles for magazines, and newspapers in addition to composing scripts for radio broadcast stations.  He has written commentary articles to protect the Buddhist religion.  Master believes that it is every Buddhist's responsibility to protect their religion, and a person should have the morals and courage in letting the voices of Buddhism be heard.
The Fifth 10 Years: Philosophy (Age 41 to 50)
  1. Venerable Master was named "the Literary Star of Buddhism" during his earlier days for his writings.
  2. Venerable Master invited scholars to give classes on the philosophical thoughts of Chinese Masters such as "Lao-zi" and "Chuang-zi" at the Buddhist College as a means to inspire students with philosophical thoughts.
  3. Venerable Master built the Fo Guang Shan Meditation Hall in 1993 to provide people the opportunity to contemplate on issues about the universe, life, birth and death and so forth while practicing meditation.  Academic Conferences are also held every year to unravel, develop and sublimate thoughts through discussions and explanations on the principles of Buddhist doctrines.  While diligently working on these himself, he also encourages his disciples and devotees to participate.
The Sixth 10 Years: History (Age 51 to 60)
  1. He established Shou Shan Buddhist College in 1963, founded Fo Guang Shan Monastery in 1967, and began sending his disciples to study abroad one after the other, hoping that the development of Fo Guang Shan would contribute to the history of Buddhism.
  2. The Tripitaka Editorial Committee was established in 1977 which published the Fo Guang Tripitaka with new annotations, punctuation and paragraphs.  It was also translated and published in easy-to-read language and titled Selected Buddhist Texts in Modern Writing.
  3. He was invited to serve as Director of the Institute of Indian Cultural Studies at the Chinese Culture University, and also to teach at the Catholic Tung Hai University for six years, putting a stop to the restrictions placed on monastics teaching in schools.  Almost every university in Taiwan today has invited Master to give classes at one stage or another.  He is now the founder of three universities and sixteen Buddhist Colleges worldwide.
  4. He established Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) in 1992 for the globalization and localization of Buddhism.  Master travels around the five continents to propagate the Dharma so often that he would circle the globe several times in a year.  The BLIA Lay Dharma Lecturers' System is a demonstration of equality between monastic and laity, thereby uniting the strength of both categories of Buddhists in the hope of fulfilling the goal to let Buddha's light shine universally, and Dharma stream flow across the five continents.
The Seventh 10 Years: Moral Principles (Age 61 to 70)
  1. Humanistic Buddhism requires humanistic characteristics, humanistic ethics, humanistic order, and a focus on human beings.  All things should start from within ourselves instead of placing high expectations in others.
  2. He held the Fo Guang Family's Gathering for the parents of his monastic disciples.  Master sees them as the "in-laws" of Buddhism, because they have dedicated their children to Master to serve Buddhism.  Hence, Venerable Master treats all parents as his own parents.
  3. He established the Benefactors' Association and regarded the devotees as the "bosses" of Buddhism.  He set up regulations on welfare for the benefactors as a means to repay a debt of gratitude for Buddhism on one hand, and on the other, allow the devotees to be able to see Fo Guang Shan as their home for life.
  4. At the age of sixty, Master invited thirteen thousand sixty-year-old devotees to celebrate his birthday with him.  He believed that this world does not belong to him alone but everyone. Thus, everyone should possess the concept of Oneness and Coexistence and be a global citizen.
The Eighth 10 Years: Buddhism (Age 71 and after)
  1. Buddhism plays a key role to the achievement of world peace.  The biggest problems in today's world are war and terrorism, which have caused panic and fear in everyone.  In order for world peace to be achieved, the practices of compassion, selflessness, dependent origination, the Six Paramitas, Four Ways to Bring Harmony, and cause and effect must be realized. All of these are the invisible strengths to enhance peace in the world.
  2. Where there is Dharma, there is a way." What is the Dharma? Humanistic Buddhism is the Dharma, and a compassionate guide that leads one away from suffering.  Humanistic Buddhism is also a ray of hope to the world's future. In order to advocate Humanistic Buddhism, promote modernization of Buddhist teachings, encourage the study of Buddhist principles, and establish thoughts on Humanistic Buddhism, Universal Gate Buddhist Journal was published in the year 2001 to provide scholars a place to publish their works on Humanistic Buddhism.
  3. We all exist as one, and live a life that is eternal. What we cannot complete in our present life can still be done in our future lives.  Life after life, Venerable Master has vowed to serve all sentient beings and strive to achieve world peace.  He prays that all sentient beings will live a carefree and peaceful life.  The void and this world may have their limits, but the strength of the Master's vows is as boundless as the void and the universe.