Red Brick Daily

Buddhist Master Hsing Yun (星雲) has played a large role in Taiwanese politics and society for decades. Now, at the age of 90, he appears set to soon close out his time on earth … and will leave quite the legacy behind.

He suffered an acute stroke last weekend, but was in a stable condition after surgery on Monday, according to the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.


(Via AshokGodPictures)

Master Yun has a history of high blood sugar and high blood pressure — as well as heart disease and diabetes.

His passing will, of course, mark the end of an era … but may do little to end the unholy coupling of powerful religious figures with powerful politicians in Taiwan.

Master Hsing Yun is best known as the founder of Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) Monastery in Kaohsiung’s Dashu District … the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The monastery’s lay organization — Buddha’s Light International Association — is also one of the largest Buddhist/Charity organizations in Taiwan.

Master Hsing Yun was born in China in 1927 and relocated to Taiwan after the KMT lost to Communist forces led by Mao Zedong in 1949.


(Via Guang Ming Temple)

As the student of a well-known monk who taught “Humanistic Buddhism” in China, Hsing Yun was made an abbot and began setting up a version of his master’s Buddhist order in Taiwan.


(Via Quaint Melody)

From its breaking ground ceremony in 1967, Fo Guang Shan evolved into a massive center with university buildings, shrines, and a cemetery. A 36-meter tall statue of Amitabha Buddha was consecrated in 1975.

The Great Hero Hall was added to the site in 1981.


(Photos via Wikimedia Commons — they show, from left, the Buddha statue, the main hall of the monastery and the Buddha Memorial Center at Fo Guang Shan)

Today, Fo Guang Shan is a pilgrimage and tourist site, as well as HQ for charity and disaster relief work.

Good works aside, Fo Guang Shan can be controversial. The huge amounts of money flowing through the group have some asking questions about transparency and oversight … and of course, there are whispers of corruption.

Some also question the ‘opulence’ of Fo Guang Shan and its leader.



But by far, Master Hsing Yun’s connections to the formerly long-ruling KMT will be the most controversial part of his legacy.

A strong supporter of the so-called “one-China” policy, he endorsed Ma Ying-jeou for president in 2008 and has called on the Dalai Lama to “reconcile” with China.



The master is also on record telling a forum in 2009 that, “there are no Taiwanese, as all Taiwanese are Chinese.”

In 2012, Hsing Yun said he believes the contested Diaoyutai Islands belong to the PRC.

Master Hsing Yun will leave behind a massive new religious movement and charity organization spread across dozens of nations … and of course, the controversies that surround all public figures with strongly vocal public political positions.

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(Cover photo via