Buddhism Culture Provides Guidance to Life’s Direction

In the age of multi-media and rapid changes, how does Buddhist publishing, as one important sector of Buddhism culture, proactively respond to society’s needs?
As the number of readers diminishes, how do we expand and deepen Buddhism cultural endeavors? What are the responses from specialized Buddhism publishers of the east and west, the authors, and the academics?

Not Just a Culture, Buddhism is the Way for Life

Venerable Chi Chern

Popular culture often regards Buddhism as a life style, not a religion. Even Islam or Christianity raises similar notion. It seems that the element of faith has been extruded from all religions, so that they become fashions of life style. It is as if the word “religion” is automatically associated with superstition; on the other hand, if a religion is associated with art, then it is “upgraded”.

“Judging from its attributes, Buddhism is a religion.” Said Venerable Chi Chern (繼程法師), “In fact, departing from its religious aspects, everything is ‘down-graded’.” This is because the levels that are unreachable in worldly life can only be reached through the element of religion. Religion will always exist, and always be respected, because it “transcends the reality of time and space. It is the manifestation of humanity’s ultimate wisdom.”

Venerable Chi Chern started out with the thesis that religion is not just a way of living, but more importantly “the way for life”. This is the essence of Buddhism. If all our efforts are just for subsistence and life’s enjoyment, then we miss the whole point of Buddha’s wisdom of liberation from life and death. In subsistence, we must live out wisdom and compassion, and we must work for peace and harmony of mankind. This is the true Buddhism faith, the essence of Buddhism culture.

“Buddhism is like a sphere. Within this sphere, there are various religions and cultures.” The Venerable explained that Buddhism does not exist without humankind; only through human beings is the enlightened wisdom exhibited. Buddhism is the dharma of no dharma, the door without door. It encompasses all methods; it is emptiness as such, certainly, and always. “When Buddhism is united with worldly cultures and arts, people find commonality and develop in all directions, so that everybody can find somewhere in life the right method to settle the body and mind, to begin practice, and to attain liberation.”

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Yeh, Shu-jen (葉姝蓁)
Editing: DDM Editorial Team

Propagating Orthodox Buddhism, Uplifting the Human spirituality

Daniel Aitken

Daniel Aitken, PhD in Buddhism Philosophy is very well-informed in Sanskrit and Tibetan languages. He shared that even today, in the Parkhang of Tibet, the monks still carve Buddhist sutras on wood in a traditional way and carefully proof-read before printing, all for the purpose of preserving and passing on this heritage Buddha’s teachings. "This is the essence of Buddhism publication, not to easily alter their traditions due to the impact of the environment." When he learnt that the Venerable Dong-Chu’s (東初禪師) initial intention to establish the "Humanity" magazine was to share orthodox Buddhism, he was filled with admiration with this aspiration.

In the convenience of online bookstores, when one keys in "Buddhism" on the internet, numerous search results and information pops out. "My teacher, Geshe Ngawang Samten(昂旺桑天格西), once told me that one must not devour the Buddha’s teachings indiscriminately". In this era, the role of a Buddhism publishing company is to continue sharing orthodox Buddhism and ensuring its quality, while accumulated experience and reputation are reassurances to the readers that they can pick out the right teaching materials from a sea of books, and also ensure that Wisdom Publications will increase its sales of these good books.

Daniel pointed out that the collapse of the economy, educational system and the environment are caused by greed, anger, and ignorance. He used automobile repair as an analogy to indicate that whilst many people come into contact with the Dharma in the hope of acquiring instant knowledge and techniques that may quickly improve their careers and lives, this is similar to merely polishing the exterior facade of a car, but in-depth wisdom is the engine that marks the performance of the car, so primary objective of Wisdom Publications is still giving rise to the aspiration to uplift the human spirituality of our society through Dharma wisdom.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Chang, Cheng-Yu (張振郁)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

The role as an open platform for the sects

Sam Mowe

"The position of a Buddhism magazine is to enable immediate responses on current issues." Sam Mowe , from the U.S. magazine "Tricycle: the Buddhist Review", and a young generation Buddhist and the Buddhism publication editor with a commerce background, discovered that when the Dharma is introduced into discussions on topics of environmental protection, gender equality, climate changes etc., enthusiastic responses were received from both Buddhists and non-Buddhist readers. Evidence of the yearning for Dharma knowledge and wisdom indicated the needs in the American society longing for the answers to current environmental change.

"Flipping through our magazine, one can see the different points of view from each Buddhism lineage." Sam explained that "Tricycle" not only denotes Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, it also represents the Theravada, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism lineages. "The boundless policy helps the different Buddhist sects learn from each others’ teaching methods. This is not to create homogeneity, but to enable people to recognize and embrace each others’ differences, facilitating communication and understanding, and on the contrary, deepen the self-cultivation of one's own heritage."

Today, more and more Americans are claiming to be "spiritual but not religious", "Tricycle" emphasizes the application of the Dharma in the worldly affairs, appealing to them, and committed to guiding them through the gates of the Dharma with the printed magazine or articles on the internet.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Chang, Cheng-Yu (張振郁)
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

Reflections on the Active Functioning of Humanistic Buddhism in the Society

Chien-Huang Chen

Chien-Huang Chen (陳劍鍠), Director of the Center for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, Chinese University of Hong Kong, addressed that the Center has been on a mission of promoting Buddhist education, in the confrontation of the prevailing and instantaneous multimedia wiring. Since year 2015 in his chairmanship, he has conducted more than 60 academic symposiums on a large scale and more than 200 lectures. It is the objectives that Buddhism could become part of the life in the general public, just as the way of Humanistic Buddhism is for daily practices. The Center is launching for a project focusing on the potential management modeling in the next five years. It is proposed that the Buddhist wisdom could be elicited and explored for the application in light of the inadequacy of the contemporary western conceptions in management or administration.

In her globalization development, Hong Kong, like many other cities, also offers a platform of multi-cultural interactions. Chen pinpointed that it is significant to reflect upon the active functioning of Humanistic Buddhism in the modern society. The propagation could be extensive to the domains of art, literature, and the like. Take “Humanity” magazine for example, it is an excellent demonstration in this regard. Published in Taiwan, the magazine represents a facet of the delicate and advanced Buddhist culture cultivated within Taiwan. Thus, Taiwan example is worthy of the learning of other cities and countries worldwide.

Chen also commented on the phenomenon of the insufficient reading among modern people. He remarked humorously that the scholarly publication in Buddhism has remained a small market ever. However, its academic study is the last defensive line as confronted by outer-path religions in question. The publication must continue even though the market is very limited. It is for the sake of deepening the Buddhist studies as well as for fulfilling the “Mission Impossible” of the Buddhism scholars.

Texts: Dharma Drum Monthly (法鼓雜誌)
Translation: Amanda Chen
Editings: DDM Editorial Team

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