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Master Sheng Yen
Master Sheng Yen was born in 1930 in a humble village in Jiang-su province. He grew up in impoverished conditions and also endured the flooding of the Yang-tze River and the disasters of war. In 1943, at the age of 13, Master Sheng Yen became a monk at Lang-shan Temple in Nang-tong County. In 1949, China was enmeshed in political conflict, and he had to disrobe and become a soldier. Consequently, he followed the government’s army and moved to Taiwan in 1959. In 1960, he became a monk again under Master Dong-chu, which led to him spending six years in retreat at Mei-nung in southern Taiwan. At that time, Master Sheng Yen felt that academic research would help elevate the whole image of Buddhism, so in 1969, he went to Japan to study at Rissho University. Despite lacking funds, Master Sheng Yen persevered and received his Ph.D. in 1975. Upon returning to Taiwan, he taught at Chinese Culture University and Su-cho University and also acted as the director of the Institute of Buddhist Studies of China Academy. In addition, Master Sheng Yen founded the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, and gave classes on the doctrines of the schools of Chan, Tien-Tai, Hsien Shou, Mind Only, Madhyamaka, and Precept.
Master Sheng Yen is not only highly regarded as Buddhist scholar, but also for his level of practice and practical way of teaching the Dharma. He has received transmissions from both the Lin-chi and Tsao-tung branches of the Chan School. In the past decades, he has traveled to Eastern and Western countries to teach the doctrines of Chan and has become a world-renowned Chan master.
In 1989, he founded Dharma Drum Mountain to fulfill his goal to “uplift the character of humankind and build a pure land on earth.” He also promoted the three major sectors of Buddhist education and four major 21st century environmental protection programs, which have become known as the The Fivefold Mental Renaissance Campaign. These programs are held in high esteem by local social and political groups. In 1998, he held a philosophical dialogue with the Dalai Lama, the leader of one of the four main sects of Tibetan Buddhism, in New York. In 2000, as a leader of Chinese Buddhism, he participated in the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders sponsored by the United Nations, and delivered the keynote speech at the opening ceremony. Master Sheng Yen has been revered by the media at home and abroad and has become a spokesman for all Chinese Buddhists throughout the world.
Although the Master did not receive formal schooling, with resolute determination and perseverance, based on his vow to uplift the standard of Buddhist education, he earned a master and doctoral degree from Rissho University in just six years. His hard-earned achievements have won unanimous praise and admiration from scholars and Buddhists at home and abroad. The hardships and difficulties that he experienced made Master Sheng Yen even more determined to establish a high level and stable Buddhist education system, and launch more training programs. “My wish is to preserve the wisdom of Chinese Buddhism to the best of my ability,” he said, “and, by introducing modern academic standards, research modes, educational systems, and teaching methods that are used overseas, I hope that Buddhist studies in Taiwan will achieve the same standards as mainstream research abroad.”
With this vow, Master Sheng Yen established the Dharma Drum Mountain Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, which has now grown at a steady and methodical pace to a graded educational system. Therefore, he has actively enhanced Chinese culture, promoted international Buddhist scholarly research, and fostered a high standard of Buddhist education and also harnessed human resources to benefit society.
Graduates of the Buddhist Studies programs have gone on to take up teaching jobs at universities and Buddhist colleges; and those who are engaged in propagating Buddhism have become responsible for literary publications, given public speeches, and are involved in administrative or managerial work. Thus the Institute has adopted a progressive attitude in regards to its educational policies and curricular design. It trains students to think and do research independently based on basic disciplines such as linguistics, methodology, and logic, with an emphasis being placed on speaking, reporting, teaching, management and leadership etc.
In order to develop Buddhism in the long term, Master Sheng Yen advocates a multi-faceted nurturing of human resources and hopes that throughout their studies, the research students can bear the goals of the Institute in mind:
- Our roots are Chinese, our branches are global.
- Our specialty is Buddhist studies, and our aim to uphold orthodox Buddhism.
- We combine understanding with practice, and join compassion with wisdom.
- Practicality is our priority and benefiting others is our emphasis.
本校創辦人 聖嚴法師深體「今日不辦教育，佛教便沒有明天」，故於民國 76年創辦了中華佛學研究所。二十多年來，中華佛學研究所一直在聯合宗教教育界，向政府爭取宗教教育能納入國家體制， 但未能成願；直到 93 年，政府修正私立學校法第九條第一款，開放籌設宗教研修學院，順此因緣提出申請「法鼓佛教學院」。本校以弘揚漢傳佛教文化的精萃，孕育推動人間淨土的舵手為理念，培養理論與實踐並重、傳統與創新相融、具有國際宏觀視野的宗教師暨學術文化兼具的人才為宗旨。本校學生應秉持校訓「悲、智、和、敬」的精神，推動佛教教育文化工作，落實社會之整體關懷，肩負起帶動世界淨化之使命。
理論是實踐的指導原則、實踐是理論的活水源頭，二者如車之兩輪，不可偏廢。本校的教學乃朝理論與實踐並重的方向， 除了培養學生於佛教義理上的研究外， 也注重在生活上的實踐，與宗教情操之涵養， 經由一系列充實完善課程及生活教育之學習，培養學生建立服務及奉獻的人生觀。
印度佛教的發展與傳播有三期，即南傳（斯里蘭卡、緬甸、泰國等地）的聲聞乘佛教、北傳（中國、韓國、日本等地）的菩薩乘佛教、及藏傳（西藏、蒙古等地）的金剛乘佛。由於聲聞乘與金剛乘密教思想差距，與歷史性的隔閡太大，所以漢傳佛教（代表初期大乘佛教）正可以扮演綜合、交流、融通的角色。 此外，為因應「終身學習」(Lifelong Learning) 以及「成人教育」(Further & Adult Education)社會的來臨，本校的課程規劃，當重視養成「終身學習」習慣與能力，使學生能夠在生命全程中，永續建立個人與團體的終身學習網絡，發展學習型組織。在科技化、資訊化社會的潮流，佛教教育若能培育兼具佛學及資訊知能人才，運用資訊、傳播以及教育科技等理論與方法，建立佛學「數位典藏」(Digital Archive)與「知識管理」(Knowledge Management)系統以及「線上學習」(Online Learning, e-learning)環境，建構成教學、研究、行政、推廣服務等層面相互結合的「數位神經系統」(Digital Nervous System)，並且結合人文與藝術的資源，發展「文化創意產業」，達成真、善、美的人生目標。