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82nd Congregation (2016)

Doctor of Social Science


The shining stars, like thousands of Buddha's eyes, observe the world with benevolence and wisdom. The moving clouds, like drawings on the sky's canvas, illuminate the world with colours and hope.

Venerable Master Hsing Yun is a world-renowned religious leader, humanitarian, author, educator and philanthropist. Based in Taiwan, he actively promotes and practises Buddhist culture, dedicating himself to educational and philanthropist endeavours. His influence transcends boundaries, reaching every corner of the world.

Master Hsing Yun was born with the name Li Guoshen in 1927, in Jiangdu (now Yangzhou), Jiangsu Province, China. At the age of twelve, he became ordained at a monastery in Qixia Mountain, Nanjing, later graduating from Jiaoshan Buddhist College. In 1949, having arrived in Taiwan, he began to take charge of academic affairs for the Buddhist Seminar in Taiwan. Over the next few years, Master Hsing Yun spoke on the Dharma in cities like Yilan, Taipei and Kaohsiung. In 1967, he founded the Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Order in Kaoshiung with a four-fold vision: promoting Humanistic Buddhism through culture, fostering talent through education, benefitting society through charitable programmes, and purifying human minds through the practice of Buddhism. What is Humanistic Buddhism? In Master Hsing Yun's words, ‘Anything that is said by the Buddha, wanted by people, pure and virtuous, and any doctrine that is conducive to advancing the happiness of our life, belongs to Humanistic Buddhism.’ After years of development, Humanistic Buddhism leapt from Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain) to the world, and has established itself as one of the most important Buddhist sects among Chinese worldwide and even among mankind as a whole. Over the past decades, Master Hsing Yun has established nearly 300 temples across the globe, including Hsi Lai Temple in the United States, Nan Tien Temple in Australia, Nan Hua Temple in Africa, and Zu Lai Temple in Brazil, all of which are the largest temples in their countries or continent. In addition, he has founded a variety of Buddhist institutes, art galleries, libraries, publishing houses, bookstores, mobile libraries, secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens, as well as Cloud and Water book vehicles and hospitals. For tertiary education, he has established five universities: Hsi Lai University in the US, Nan Tien Institute in Australia, Nanhua University and Fo Guang University in Taiwan, and Fo Guang College in the Philippines.

As a proponent of cultural and academic advancement, Master Hsing Yun has also launched numerous publications, including the Fo Guang Academic Journal, Humanistic Buddhism and the Universal Gate Buddhist Journal. He directed the establishment of the Fo Guang Tripitaka Editing Committee, which has published nearly a thousand issues of Fo Guang Tripitaka, as well as the compilation of the Fo Guang Buddhist Dictionary. He also created the Fo Guang Shan Foundation for Buddhist Culture and Education, which has organised and sponsored numerous academic seminars and the publication of theses and journals. Master Hsing Yun is also the founder of Buddha's Light Television, now renamed Beautiful Life Television, and Merit Times, the world's first newspaper published by a Buddhist organisation. In 2005, the Fo Guang Shan Foundation for Buddhist Culture and Education and The Chinese University of Hong Kong co-founded the Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, which not only promotes research on Buddhism and nurtures young Buddhist scholars, but also sponsors related research projects by the Faculty of Arts of the University. Finally, Master Hsing Yun has conducted lectures for CUHK staff and students, as well as members of the public.

Master Hsing Yun is a kind-hearted humanitarian, a man of profound compassion. Despite his beginnings as a humble monk in a mountain temple, he has always been helping mankind and providing relief for disasters and suffering. Since 1970, Fo Guang Shan has set up many children's homes, orphanages, and nursing homes, as well as Cloud and Water Hospitals, Ren-ai Private Retirement Homes, and Fo Guang hospitals, clinics and light lodges. He has actively led and participated in a great number of society's humanitarian causes to provide for the abandoned and elderly, as well as the poor and needy. Over the years, Fo Guang Shan has won universal acclaim for its massive relief and charitable activities in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China.

As a prolific author, Master Hsing Yun has written many books preaching the Dharma, which enjoy extensive circulation worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 foreign languages. He has ordained over 2,000 monastics and attracted millions of lay Buddhist devotees around the globe. Moreover, his more than 100 disciples preach throughout China and the world. In 1991, he established the Buddha's Light International Association, which is now the largest Chinese association in the world, with a presence in over 170 countries and regions.

Master Hsing Yun has devoted his efforts to promoting education and culture, engaging in charitable causes and the propagation of the Dharma. He has been credited by Buddhist scholars as one of the forefront leaders in the modern reformation of Buddhism. For his outstanding contributions, Master Hsing Yun has received countless accolades and honours over the years. More than 20 universities have bestowed honorary doctorates upon him, and more than 10 mainland China universities have awarded him the title of Honorary Professor. Several cities in the US, Australia and Taiwan have made him an honorary citizen. He has received the First Class Medal from Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Education. He has also received the National Public Welfare Award, the Ten Outstanding Educational Entrepreneurs Award, and the Presidential Cultural Award – Bodhi Award. He has been honoured with the Indian National Buddhist Assembly's Buddhist Gem Award, as well as the Prime Minister of Thailand's Buddhist Great Contribution Award. Phoenix Satellite Television awarded him its Peace in Body and Mind Award. The Chinese Writers' & Artists' Association not only gave him its Award for Lifetime Achievement, but also elected him as its Permanent Honorary President. Other recognitions he has received include the Lifetime Achievement Award of first China's People of Chinese Culture, the Annual Mass Media Person of the Year Award by The Light of China, the Lifetime Achievement Award of The Most Influential Chinese People and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Chinese Business Leaders. He has also been recognised with the Award for Outstanding Achievement from the United States Republican Party's Asian Committee under President George Bush, and the Contribution Award conferred by the Bayswater City Government.

In recent years, Master Hsing Yun's eyesight has grown weak due to his age, so he has reduced his travels abroad. He has said: ‘During a long stretch of time in the past, I kept travelling across the five continents to preach ... Now, I am focusing on exploring the soul of mountain in my heart, instead of experiencing the exterior world.’ He also has said: ‘The heart is our owner. It dictates our life. You have to understand your heart and nature in order to know yourself and find your way.’ That is to say: when your true heart and mind are as clear as a mirror, handling worldly and spiritual matters becomes hassle-free.

Despite his age, Master Hsing Yun remains keen on publishing books of sermons. Through writing and recording his spoken teachings, he shares his explorations of his mountain of soul. These words from the depth of his heart bring wisdom to encourage and enlighten others. His perseverance in acting by example has won tremendous admiration.

Mr Chairman, I have the great honour of presenting to you the Venerable Master Hsing Yun for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa, in recognition of his contributions to cultural, educational and philanthropic causes, as well as his support for Hong Kong society in general, and CUHK in particular.