Hsing Yun (Chinese: 星雲; pinyin: Xīng Yún) (born August 19, 1927) is a Chinese Buddhist monk. He is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order as well as the affiliated Buddha's Light International Association in Taiwan. Hsing Yun is considered to be one of the most prominent proponents of Humanistic Buddhism and is considered to be one of the most influential teachers of modern Taiwanese Buddhism. In Taiwan, he is popularly referred to as one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Taiwanese Buddhism, along with his contemporaries: Master Sheng-yen of Dharma Drum Mountain, Master Cheng Yen of Tzu Chi and Master Wei Chueh of Chung Tai Shan.[1][2][3]

Hsing Yun
Hsing Yun in 2009
Li Guoshen (李國深)

(1927-08-19) 19 August 1927 (age 94)
Nationality Republic of China
SchoolLinji school
Lineage48th generation
EducationQixia Academy of the School of Vinaya
TempleFo Guang Shan
Senior posting
TeacherShi Zhikai (釋志開)
SuccessorHsin Ping
Present postSpiritual advisor of Fo Guang Shan
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese星雲
Simplified Chinese星云

Fo Guang ShanEdit

Hsing Yun's first exposure to Buddhism came from his grandmother, a practicing Buddhist and meditator. He entered the monastic life at the age of 12. Hsing Yun was first inspired by Buddhist modernism in 1945 while studying at Jiaoshan Buddhist College. There he learned about Buddhist teacher Taixu's calls for reform in Buddhism and the Sangha.[4] He fled mainland China to Taiwan in 1949 following the communist victory in the civil war but was arrested along with several other Buddhist monastics. Hsing Yun and the others were released after 23 days and Hsing Yun spent the next several years developing a large following and founding numerous temples. In 1966, Hsing Yun bought some land in Kaohsiung and started building a large monastery. After partial completion, the temple opened in 1967 and would later become the headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist organization.[5]

Hsing Yun's Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order is a proponent of "Humanistic" Buddhism,[6][5] and Hsing Yun himself was the abbot of the order until his resignation in 1985.[7][8] Following his resignation, Hsing Yun founded the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) as a layperson based Humanistic Buddhist organization.[8]

Fo Guang Shan eventually grew to become one of the most significant social actors in Taiwan; the organization has established several schools and colleges,[9] and runs orphanages, homes for the elderly, and drug rehabilitation programs in prisons. Fo Guang Shan has also been involved in some international relief efforts.[10][11]

Fo Guang Shan entered mainland China in the early 21st century, focusing more on charity and Chinese cultural revival rather than Buddhist propagation in order to avoid conflict with the Chinese government, which opposes proselytizing. Fo Guang Shan's presence in China increased under the premiership of General Secretary Xi Jinping after he started a program to revive traditional Chinese faiths.[12] According to Hsing Yun, his goal in mainland China is to work with the mainland government to rebuild China's culture following the destruction of the Cultural Revolution, rather than promote Buddhism in the mainland.[13]

The headquarters of Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung is currently the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. On top of that, the order has a network of over 300 branches throughout Taiwan,[11] as well as several branches worldwide in at least fifty countries.[12]


In Taiwan, Hsing Yun is notable for his activity in political affairs, particularly as a supporter of the One-China policy as well as government legislation supported by the Kuomintang, and has been criticized for his views by those in favor of Taiwan independence and by religious figures, as being overtly political and "considerably far afield from traditional monastic concerns".[14][15] During the 2008 presidential election, Hsing Yun publicly endorsed Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou.[16] During the second World Buddhist Forum in 2009, Hsing Yun asserted that there are "no Taiwanese" and that Taiwanese "are Chinese".[15] In 2012 he said that the Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyutai Islands) belonged to China.[17]

In the past he has encouraged reconciliation between China and the Dalai Lama,[18] but has tried hard to avoid causing rifts between him and his organisation and the Chinese government.[19]


On 26 December 2011, Hsing Yun suffered a minor ischemic stroke, his second in that year.[20] In his older years Hsing Yun began suffering from numerous health issues, including diabetes and near blindness.[13]


In 2008, Hsing Yun was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Whittier College.[21]


  1. ^ "Come to Taiwan, Return with good memories". Info.taiwan.net.tw. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  2. ^ Shuai, J. J.; Chen, H. C.; Chang, C. H. (1 December 2010). "Visualization of the Taiwaness Buddhism web based on social network analysis". 2010 International Computer Symposium (ICS2010): 187–191. doi:10.1109/COMPSYM.2010.5685523. ISBN 978-1-4244-7639-8. S2CID 18858823.
  3. ^ Abeynayake, Oliver; Tilakaratne, Asanga (1 January 2011). 2600 Years of Sambuddhatva: Global Journey of Awakening. p. 282. ISBN 9789559349334. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  4. ^ Harding, John S.; Hori, Victor Sōgen; Soucy, Alexander (29 March 2010). Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 282. ISBN 9780773591080.
  5. ^ a b Schak, David; Hsiao, Hsin-Huang Michael (1 June 2005). "Taiwan's Socially Engaged Buddhist Groups". China Perspectives. 2005 (3). doi:10.4000/chinaperspectives.2803. ISSN 2070-3449.
  6. ^ Richard L. Kimball (2000). Humanistic Buddhism as Conceived and Interpreted by Grand Master Hsing Yun of Fo Guang Shan Archived 28 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Hsi Lai Journal of Humanistic Buddhism 1: 1–52.
  7. ^ Fo Guang Shan – Abbotship. Archived 26 August 2006.
  8. ^ a b Harding, John S.; Hori, Victor Sōgen; Soucy, Alexander (29 March 2010). Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 283. ISBN 9780773591080.
  9. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark (2012). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE. p. 406. ISBN 9780761927297.
  10. ^ Miller, DeMond S.; Rivera, Jason David (19 April 2016). Community Disaster Recovery and Resiliency: Exploring Global Opportunities and Challenges. CRC Press. p. 452. ISBN 9781420088236.
  11. ^ a b Schak, David; Hsiao, Hsin-Huang Michael (1 June 2005). "Taiwan's Socially Engaged Buddhist Groups". China Perspectives. 2005 (59). doi:10.4000/chinaperspectives.2803. ISSN 1996-4617.
  12. ^ a b Johnson, Ian (24 June 2017). "Is a Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  13. ^ a b Johnson, Ian; Wu, Adam (24 June 2017). "A Buddhist Leader on China's Spiritual Needs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 26 January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  14. ^ [s.n.] (4 June 2008). A Buddhist master straddles the Taiwan Straits: Hsing Yun seeks to make reunification Buddhism’s sixth precept – at least for Beijing. Asia Sentinel. Archived 15 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b Loa Iok-sin (31 March 2009). "Taiwan Buddhist master: 'No Taiwanese". Taipei Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2 April 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  16. ^ "{title}" 意在言外 星雲籲幫馬找工作. 民視新聞. 26 December 2011. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  17. ^ Wang Pei-lin; Chung, Jake (18 September 2012). "Master Hsing Yun says China owns Diaoyutais". Taipei Times. p. 3. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Taiwan monk urges China to befriend Dalai Lama". 31 January 2009.
  19. ^ Chandler, Stuart (2004). Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization. Topics in Contemporary Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 258–259.
  20. ^ "Taipei Times: Hsing Yun recovering after stroke, 26 December 2011". 28 December 2011. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Honorary Degrees | Whittier College". www.whittier.edu. Retrieved 12 February 2020.


External linksEdit

Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Abbot and Director of Fo Guang Shan
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New creation
Honorary President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists
Served alongside: K. Sri Dhammananda

Succeeded by