What Travels? Notes on a Globalizing Buddhist Movement from Taiwan

JVF Conference Papers

The Buddhist Compassionate Relief Merit Society (Ciji Gongde Hui, hereafter Ciji), the largest formal association in Taiwan, has five million members worldwide,3 and over the past decade, has formed branches in thirty-four countries. Ciji is the first Buddhist organization in the history of Buddhism in any Chinese society to carry out humanitarian missions on a large, international scale that includes delivery of relief on every continent. These accomplishments have won its leader, the Dharma Master Zhengyan, the 1991 Philippine Magsaysay Award, the 1993 nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the 2000 Noel Foundation “Life” Award previously bestowed on Margaret Thatcher and Mother Teresa. A high school textbook in Canada recently devoted a chapter to Ciji and the Venerable Zhengyan as an exemplary religious influence;4 the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia hailed her as a heroine of the rank of Nelson Mandela and Gandhi in the Heroes from Around the World Exhibition; and Business Week this year recognized her as the only Taiwanese among the fourteen (mostly political and business figures) “stars of Asia.”

Download pdf