Established Buddhist organizations in Taiwan
The growth of Buddhism in Taiwan was spearheaded by a number of organizations developing during this period led by various teachers who took a socially engaged approach in accordance with Humanistic Buddhist philosophy.
As Buddhist groups become more involved in people’s everyday lives there has been a general push to make the teachings of Buddhism more relevant and applicable to modern- day issues such as environmental protection, human rights and stress management.
These developments helped create an image of Buddhism as being highly relevant in the modern world to the Taiwanese population.
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Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, known for short as the Tzu Chi Foundation, is a Taiwanese international humanitarian and nongovernmental organization (NGO). The foundation has several sub-organizations such as the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) and also the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association. Tzu Chi volunteers and relief workers are mostly recognizable by their blue and white uniforms called, in Chinese: 藍天白雲; lit. “blue sky, white clouds”). The foundation’s work includes medical aid, disaster relief, and environmental work such as recycling. It is operated by a worldwide network of volunteers and employees and has been awarded a special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It has also been appointed as a co-chair of the UN Inter-agency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development’s Multi-Faith Advisory Council for 2022-2023.
Chung Tai Shan
Chung Tai Shan is a Taiwan-based international Chan Buddhist monastic order founded by the Ven. Wei Chueh in 1987. The monastery headquarters, Chung Tai Chan Monastery, completed in September 2001, is located in Puli, Nantou County, in central Taiwan. It is the tallest and one of the largest monasteries in both Taiwan and the world, having a height of 136 metres (446 ft). Widely admired as an architectural masterpiece because of the mountain monastery’s more modern look, the temple is second only to Fo Guang Shan’s monastery in physical size and in the number of ordained disciples.
Dharma Drum Mountain
Dharma Drum Mountain is an international Buddhist spiritual, cultural, and educational foundation founded by late Chan master Sheng-yen. The center focuses on educating the public in Buddhism with the goal of improving the world and establishing a “Pure Land on Earth” through Buddhist education. The international headquarters of this organization is located at Jinshan District, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Fo Guang Shan
Fo Guang Shan (FGS) is an international Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhist organization and monastic order based in Taiwan that practices Humanistic Buddhism. The headquarters, Fo Guang Shan Monastery is located in Dashu District, Kaohsiung, and is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The organization is also one of the largest charity organizations in Taiwan. The organization’s counterpart for laypeople is known as the Buddha’s Light International Association.
Four Great Mountains (Taiwan)
The Four Great Mountains of Taiwan refers to a group of four prominent organizations in Taiwanese Buddhism. The term draws its name from the Four Sacred Mountains of China, four mountains in mainland China that each hold sacred Chinese Buddhist sites. The founders of the institutions are collectively referred to as the Four Heavenly Kings of Taiwanese Buddhism. Each of the “Four Heavenly Kings” corresponds to one cardinal direction, based on where their organization is located in Taiwan. The institutions that make up the “Four Great Mountains” of Taiwanese Buddhism are:North (Jinshan): Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山) founded by Master Sheng-yen South (Dashu): Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) founded by Master Hsing Yun (星雲) East (Hualien): Tzu Chi Foundation (慈濟基金會) founded by Master Cheng Yen (證嚴) West (Nantou): Chung Tai Shan (中台山) founded by Master Wei Chueh
Four Heavenly Kings (Taiwan)
The Four Heavenly Kings of Taiwan refers to four masters in Taiwanese Buddhism who each founded an influential Buddhist institution in the country. The term draws its name from the Four Heavenly Kings who each rule over one of the heavenly realms in Buddhist cosmology. Like the Four Heavenly Kings mythology, each Buddhist teacher corresponds to one cardinal direction, based on where their organization is located in Taiwan. The corresponding institutions of the masters are referred to as the “Four Great Mountains”.