Chan Buddhism in Contemporary Life



Seminar in Chinese (with translator)


Venerable Man Chien (President of Fo Guang Shan Overseas Executive Council)

30 June 2016


Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS Main Building, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

This event is part of the Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition at Asia House supported by the Pure Land Foundation.

In this talk, Venerable Yi-Kong examines the nature of Chan (Sanskrit Dhyana) in Chinese Buddhism from the perspectives of Mahayana texts including The Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom (Mahāprajñāpāramitā śāstra), Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu tanjing), Vimalakīrti Sūtra (Weimojing). Introducing the function, concept and practice of dhyana, she considers the relevance of its practice in contemporary life.


Venerable Man Chien was born in Tao-yuan Province, Taiwan in 1961. She took monastic tonsure under Venerable Master Hsing Yun in 1987 and was fully ordained the following year. Aside from having served as Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Nan Tien Temple in Australia and Fo Gung Shan in New Zealand, she also held office as Dean of Tsung Lin University, Executive Director of Fo Guang University, Director of Nanhua University. Her current positions include the President of Fo Guang Shan Overseas Executive Council, Head Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Europe and Deputy-Secretary General of BLIA, Europe.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email:

Contact Tel: + 44 020 7898 4823

One-Stroke Calligraphy

One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition Poster




28th June – 9th July 2016

Mon to Fri 09:00 – 18:00

Sat 10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

Asia House 

63, New Cavendish Street,

London W1G 7LP.

“If one must speak of the value of One-Stroke Calligraphy, one can only say that they are but the product of the desire to establish good affinities and bring happiness to people by a monastic who has renounced lay life for seventy-eight years. I hope that everyone can take home with them the Dharma within my writing and the Dharma joy of faith”

Hsing Yun


Forty-eighth patriarch of the Linji Chan School, Venerable Master Hsing Yun was born in 1927 in Jiangsu province, China. At age twelve, he entered the Qixia monastery in Nanjing as a novice, receiving full ordination at age eighteen.

After arriving in Taiwan in 1949, he worked tirelessly to promote Humanistic Buddhism. In 1967, he founded the Fo Guang Shan Monastery with the objective of propagating Buddhism through education, public service and culture. In 1991, he founded the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA), the lay arm of Fo Guang Shan. Today, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order has over 200 branch temples worldwide, working hand in hand with BLIA Chapters to promote Humanistic Buddhism. Over more than seven decades, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has devoted most of his life to his cause. His achievements have been recognized internationally through numerous awards, including the Buddhist Great Contribution Award conferred by Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of Thailand at the 2000 World Fellowship of Buddhists Conference, the Award for Outstanding Achievement from the United States Republican Party’s Asian Committee in 2007, and a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Most Influential Chinese in 2013.


“Born into a poor family, I received no formal education as a child: I was educated in a Buddhist seminary. But war and unrest in China meant that life was a struggle and left no room for cultivating calligraphy.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I lived in a small dilapidated temple. I began writing characters on pieces of paper as a way to liven up the wall during the chanting rituals. Though ashamed of my calligraphy, I persevered.

In 1980, a devotee chanced upon me writing some characters on a piece of paper. He walked up to me and discreetly handed me a red packet with a generous amount of money. I was rather taken aback and tried to return the money, but he refused, so I picked up the paper with my writing and gifted it to him. Word got out, and other requests followed. Realizing that my calligraphy brings others joy boosted my confidence in it tremendously. From then on, I would write a scroll with inspiring words for each New Year.

In 2005, my disciple Ru Chang organized an exhibition of my calligraphy in the National Art Gallery Malaysia without my knowledge. I was shocked and surprised by its popular reception. Since then, many exhibitions have been held in different countries. I encourage people to not just look at my writing but to look instead for my heart in these writings. For me, it is the bit of compassion that I can show you.

Poor nutrition in my youth caused many health problems in the following decades. In recent years, complications from diabetes have caused me to go blind. Since last June, I have been unable to read. But I am determined to continue to write. Since I cannot see, I can only estimate the spacing between characters. Once my brush is dipped in ink, I must complete it within one stroke – otherwise, I will not know where to start with the second stroke. Relying on my intuition, no matter how many characters from a phrase I need to write, I must accomplish it in one stroke in order to reach my goal. Thus, it is called ‘One-Stroke Calligraphy.’”


Founded by Bruno Wang, the Pure Land Foundation reflects his well-established interests in meditation, holistic wellbeing, art and music. The Foundation supports institutions, charities and programmes that promote social, spiritual and emotional wellness, with an emphasis on art and music.

Pure Land in Buddhism refers to the realm of higher consciousness and peace. Although not based in any religion, the Foundation seeks to create and promote the interconnectedness and sense of “pure land” in our daily lives.


SOAS is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. It uniquely combines language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus and has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with these regions.


Established in 1992, London Fo Guang Shan Temple is an active centre of Buddhist worship and teaching. It is one of the worldwide branches of Fo Guang Shan Monastery propagating the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism advocated by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. BLIA London was established in the same year as its lay arm.

Noh Training Project

Summer Intensive

Noh Training Project UK (NTP UK) is a unique summer workshop held on the Handa Noh Stage at Royal Holloway, University of London, which offers intensive performance-based training in the dance, chant, music and performance history of classical Japanese Noh drama.

2016 Course Details

We are particularly delighted to announce that Noh Training Project UK Masterclass teacher Akira Matsui, designated Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government in 1998, will return to teach at NTPUK for the third year running in 2016. This year, he will also receive an Honorary Doctorate from Royal Holloway in recognition of his five decades of contribution to Noh, both domestically in Japan, and internationally.


Monday 27th June to Saturday 9th July 2016
Classes will run every day except Sun 3rd July (day off). The first three days – Monday 27-Wed 29th June – will be a Foundation Course for complete Beginners.


Prof. Richard Emmert, a certified Kita School Noh instructor and founder of Noh Training Projects in Japan and the USA. He will lead daily group classes in movement, music and Noh chant, alongside individual/small group tuition in Noh instruments.


Handa Noh Theater at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Other rehearsal spaces with the Department of Drama & Theatre will also be available for classes and practice.


Noh master Akira Matsui will lead special workshops during the Project’s final week (5th – 9th July).