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Promoting Buddhism through Modern Sports: The Case Study of Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan

In the past, traditional Buddhism in China focused on chanting and meditation that detached itself from the society. However, after generations of strenuous efforts to promote ‘Humanistic Buddhism’, several Masters have been encouraging religion to engage more in daily lives. One of the proponents was Master Hsin Yun, who was born and raised in mainland China and subsequently moved to Taiwan along with the ‘Monk Rescue Team’. It was in Taiwan that Master Hsin Yun founded Fo Guang Shan, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites on the island. At the beginning, he started the place from scratch, setting up basketball courts for the followers to take part in basketball games. Upholding the notion that Buddhism needs to engage the public, Master, therefore, has a unique way of combing religion with modern sports in an attempt to let more people get in touch with religion. Accordingly, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and other sports were promoted and sponsored under the auspices of Fo Guang Shan, which certainly topples public stereotypes around sedentary Buddhism. In the end, Master hopes that, in the future, sports can unite healthy Fo Guang followers worldwide and bring honor to Taiwan.