Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 Taiwan Summer Trip 02: Fo Guang Shan, Monastery of Humanistic Buddhism

We took Tze-Chiang Limited Express from Tainan Station to Jiuqutang Station. Our plan was taking bus from the bus stop opposite Jiuqutang Station to Fo Guang Shan, but it was so hot outside, so we decided to take taxi instead. 

Tze-Chiang Limited Express

Fo Guang Shan is located at Dashu District, Kaohsiung County. Pineapple and Lychee are the main local fruits of Dashu District. It was the Festival of Pineapple and Lychee during the time we went. Banners of the festival could be seen around the area and orchards of these two fruits spread across roadside.

Pineapple, covered with hats, planted at roadside

Fo Guang Shan (FGS) is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. It is founded by venerable master Hsing Yun in 1967. Currently, FGS monastery is comprised of its temple and newly established Buddha Memorial Center. We visited the latter one.

Fo Guang Shan viewed from Provincial Highway, the standing Buddha statue is at the south side of the temple

The north side of Fo Guang Shan Temple

The construction of the Buddha Memorial Center was started in 2003, and completed after 9 years. It was opened on 25 December 2011. The Center is located at the north of FGS Temple, built along a central axial line and faces east.

Main Gate of Buddha Memorial Center

Information Tower

Xiezhang Bridge, which span across Kaoping River and links between Kaohsiung County and Pingtung County

Front Hall

Front Hall is the first building of Buddha Memorial Center. Restaurant, cafe and souvenir shops are inside this building. Visitors could take a rest and have meals here.

The map of Buddha Memorial Center, which lists the 10 Splendors of the Center

The 10 Splendors of the Center are:
1. The Most Compassionate: Covered Walkways and Barrier-Free Environment
2. The Most Popular: One-Stroke Calligraohy by ven. master Hsing Yun, exhibited at Six Perfections Pagoda
3. The Largest Drum:1200 kg fiber-made drum at Drum Tower. The Drum is also known as Life Protection Drum because it was not made by conventional animal skin.
4. The Most Equal: 3 out of the 18 arhat statues, located at either side of the Bodhi Wisdom Concourse, are women
5. The Tallest Buddha Statue: 108 meter-height bronze-made Fo Guang Great Buddha
6. The Greatest Leap through Time: Museum of Buddhist Underground Palaces at Main Hall (There are 48 underground palaces, which will be opened one by one every century)
7. The Most Precious: Buddha's Tooth Relic inside the Jade Buddha Shrine of Main Hall
8. The Most Vivid: 360 degree loop screen in Great Enlightenment Auditorium of Main Hall
9. The Grandest Vow: One million sheets of Hand-Copied Heart Sutras enshrined in the Sutra Repository of Main Hall
10. The Largest Table: 108 men-sitted round table at Fo Guang Building

The four pagodas at the south side

The garden at the west side of Front Hall

Ven. Master Hsing Yun's One-Stroke Calligraphy souvenir shop

West side of Front Hall

One of the 10 Splendors: The Most Compassionate Covered Walkway, donators' name are listed on the wall along the walkway

The Eight Pagodas and Main Hall

There is a long wall, where the history about the Buddha Memorial Center was written, located before the four pagodas of north side. In 1998, Hsing Yun held the Bodhgaya International Full Ordination in Bodh Gaya, India. At that time, Kunga Dorje Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama who had been protecting one of the last remaining Buddha's Tooth Relics, donated the relic to Hsing Yun and allow him to build a stupa to enshrine the tooth relic in Taiwan.

According to the literature, there are three tooth relics remained after Buddha's Nirvana. Two of them are currently enshrined in Sri Lanka and China Mainland. The third tooth relic was kept in India, but transferred to Tibet during the invasion by Muslim into India in 13th century. The relic was then kept in Namgyal Monastery until 1968, when the monastery destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The tooth relic was missing since that time.

In fact, the tooth relic was protected by the Tibetan Lama Kunga Dorje Rinpoche. He risked his life to cross Himalaya Mountains and escorted the relic back to India. After authentication by several Tibetan Rinpoches, the tooth relic was kept secretly at his side for 30 years. Kunga Dorje Rinpoche thought that he was unable to enshrine the relic in Tibet again and unable to build a stupa in India due to his old age. Therefore, he donated the relic to Hsing Yun, who devoted himself in the worldwide interaction of Buddhism.

"Renjian Fojiao" (Humanistic Buddhism) by Hsing Yun, exhibited at Six Perfections Pagoda

The Three Acts of Goodness promoted by Hsing Yun: Do Good Deeds, Speak Good Words, Think Good Thoughts

Rubbing of Hsing Yun's calligraphy could be done in Six Perfections Pagoda

The exhibition board introduced Hsing Yun's One-Stroke Calligraphy

Ven. master Hsing Yun's eyes have deteriorated due to his diabetic condition, which was diagnosed over 40 years ago. Barely able to see, each of his calligraphy work was completed in one stroke without stopping. He relies on his mind's eye and his "Dharma eye" by dipping the brush into the ink and immediately writing the words in one stroke, thus giving his work its name, "One-Stroke Calligraphy".

“To gain merit, you shall cherish it first.
To cherish 
merit, you shall learn it first.
To learn 
merit, you shall practice it first.
To practice 
merit, you shall have it first ”

The lego model of Buddha Memorial Center exhibited at Four Givings Pagoda

The park at the north side of covered walkway

One of the 10 Splendors: The Largest Drum at Drum Tower

Bell Tower

The view of Main Hall and Fo Guang Great Buddha from Bodhi Wisdom Concourse

The north side of Bodhi Wisdom Concourse, 18 arhat statues arranged under the tree. The white statues at far side are the founders of eight different sects of Buddhism

The lobby of Main Hall, the shrine behind the statue is Mount Potalaka Avalokitesvara Shrine. Golden Buddha Shrine and Jade Buddha Shrine could be entered from the sideways

The Main Hall, which represents Gautama Buddha, is the main architecture of Buddha Memorial Center. The huge base of the building is made by rust granite. The height of the building is about 50 meter and occupies an area of 14200 square meters. Four Stupas are built at the four corner of the Main Hall, the four Bodhisattva, which are Avalokitesvara (or Guanyin), Manjusri (or Wenshu), Ksitigarbha (or Dizang) and Samantabhadra (or Puxian), enshrined in these stupas.

There are Three Shrines and Four Exhibitions at the 1st floor of Main Hall. The Three Shrines are Mount Potalaka Avalokitesvara Shrine. Golden Buddha Shrine and Jade Buddha Shrine. The Buddha and Avalokitesvara statues are sacred and dignified with the beautiful craft work. 

The Four Exhibitions are Museum of Buddhist Underground Palaces, The Life of the Buddha, Museum of Buddhist Festival and Historical Museum of Fo Guang Shan. 5 of the 10 Splendors are also in this Main Hall. How I wish to visit all of them but the opening hours is almost ended, so I could only visit some of them.

After that, we came to the top of the Main Hall to visit the Four Stupas. Visitors could enjoy the view of Buddha Memorial Center from here.

The Great Buddha during sunset

We went back to the Main Gate to take bus bound to Tainan. I strongly suggest that it would be much better to take taxi to train stations located at Jiuqutang, Fengshan or Tainan. The bus service provided by Kaohsiung Transportation operated once in an hour, the route was so long and without punctuality. The driver was so rude and drove recklessly. I was so disappointed with the service.


National Cheng Kung University, Campus of Nature and Arts


  1. How much is the taxi fare from Tainan to Fo Guang Shan?

    1. Hi Victor, it's NTD 137/pax from Tainan to Jiuqutang by train, while NTD 350 (4 persons) from Jiuqutang station to Fo Guang Shan by taxi. This is the expenses that we spent. Hope it helps you. =)