More Wisdom from Master Ji Qun

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on July 3, 2017.)

Master Ji Qun leaving the hermitage near Huayan Temple, Ningde, Fujian

Last time I talked about meeting Master Ji Qun, Abbot of the Xiyuan Temple in Suzhou. We met in a mountain hermitage near Huayan Temple on Zhiti Mountain, where I had been teaching English to about 100 kids, and he was there sharing his deep wisdom.

At the hermitage, I was invited to ask him a question. Such great teachers must hear the same questions repeatedly, so I was pleased when he greeted my question with surprise, telling my interpreter that no one had ever asked him that.

My question: What is the best way to encourage the "Buddhist Renaissance" that is happening in China?

He replied that his work and that of his contemporaries was based on the foundation laid by the great monks of the 20th century (such as Taixu and Hongyi). An essential part of that work is for temples to teach and support other aspects of Chinese culture, such as traditional arts and music. Likewise, he said, it would be best if Buddhist lay people were trained as teachers to take the Buddha's teachings out into the broader culture.

When I asked him who his audience was, he replied that he usually spoke only to Chinese people, though this included devotees in such places as Singapore and Australia. When I asked if he would take his mission to America, he thought about it for a moment, then (I think wisely) replied that with just some effort in China, he was able to achieve results; but that even with much effort in America, the result would be minimal.

That evening, his final words to us were: "Make the most of your life; live fully in the present; seek wisdom."

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