Master Heng Sure:
The Venerable Master further said that in the past people only translated the Buddhist Canon in China. However, the Catholics had the Bible translated into various languages of the world. Catholic schools are everywhere. It is really a universal religion. How many places outside China have translated the Buddhist scriptures into other languages? Very few indeed. Therefore, the Venerable Master vowed to translate Buddhist scriptures into all the different languages. Hence, he lectured on the Sutras and spoke Dharma in more than twenty Way-places, including Gold Mountain Monastery, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Gold Wheel Monastery. These lectures were translated into English by the following day, and later translated into Spanish, French, Vietnamese and other languages.
The Venerable Master said that Buddhism is the Teaching of Wisdom, the Teaching of Living Beings, as well as the most profound human psychology. In America, it need not be labelled as Buddhism. The name can be changed so as to be acceptable to Americans. This is a temporary expedient method. In this time when disasters are occurring everywhere in this global village, how could Buddhists only be concerned about themselves and pay no attention to society? In the twentieth century, Buddhism and the society-at-large must be interconnected. In Taiwan, Ciji Foundation sets a very good model for social service. In America, one of the strengths of Catholicism and Christianity is their social service. Consequently, the Venerable Master promoted education. He said that wherever there are Way-places, there will be classrooms and schools. He established elementary schools, high schools, and a university in America. Teaching is a form of social service. If education prospers, then Buddhism will also prosper. If education falters, then Buddhism will also falter. The Venerable Master wished to revive education in America.
How will we know if we have succeeded? We can review the history of Buddhism in a hundred years' time. If we see that many Americans send their children to Buddhist schools and identify Buddhism with education, then the mission and objectives of Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, will have been achieved. Education is the new face of Buddhism in the West.
Today we will also hear from Upasaka Guo Le (Douglas Powers), who will discuss Buddhism and science. Most Americans are skeptical about religion, but they certainly cannot be skeptical about science. The influence of science is very great. Buddhism is not an old fashioned religion. At the Institute of World Religions, located near the University of California at Berkeley, weekly discussions are held with professors of nuclear physics and biology who are invited to the monastery. They know that Shakyamuni Buddha investigated the mind to the ultimate point. The Buddha gave a very thorough explanation of the nature of the mind. Although the professors may not have known Mandarin, they participated in the seminars to learn about the Buddhist Sutras. Hence, the dialogue between Buddhism and science began from "Thus I have heard." Afterwards, Upasaka Guo Le will discuss the topic "The Propagation of Buddhism in the West and Its Prospects" pertaining to these aspects. I hope everyone will ask many questions, because it will benefit all of us.
Next, I would like to introduce Dharma Master Heng Chih. She is a Bhikshuni. Dharma Master Chih is one of the earliest American disciples of the Venerable Master. She is one of the first five Americans who were ordained in Taiwan. Since 1969, she has been an Elder in the American Bhikshuni Sangha. She has followed the Venerable Master for many years and is fluent in Mandarin. She translated the
Shurangama Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and other Buddhist Sutras into English. She also has many years of experience leading the Buddhist Academy in Taiwan. Dharma Master Chih's topic today is "Traditional Chinese Buddhism in America."
Bhikshuni Heng Chih:
Dharma Masters, ladies and gentlemen: Good afternoon. I would like to divide today's topic into four parts: First, the circumstances of Buddhism upon its advent in China; second, the situation of Buddhism after its influence penetrates Chinese society; third, the first hundred years of Buddhism in America; fourth, how Buddhism can incorporate itself into American culture and society and become a serious field of study.
First of all, let's discuss the arrival of orthodox Buddhism in China. By China, I mean all places where people speak Mandarin Chinese or other Chinese dialects, and the time period spanning from the Han to the Qing dynasties, when Buddhism was in China. From the Han dynasty to the arrival of Bodhidharma in China in the Liang dynasty, many of the most influential figures of Buddhism were not in China, but were actually in India seeking Sutras, studying languages, gaining an understanding of all Buddhist texts, and taking them back to China. Although there were as yet not many Buddhist canonical texts in China, the foundation for Buddhism's spread to China was laid down in this period. The treasure of Dharma had entered China by the Han dynasty, but orthodox Buddhism was still absent. From the Tripitaka (Buddhist canon) we know that there were monks in those days, but no established Sangha (monastic order). There were monks, but they did not know what to do and there was no one to teach them. It was a difficult situation both in terms of language and culture.
To be continued