A Talk at the University

Fo Guang Shan (FGS) South Island New Zealand (NZ) Venerable Abbess Manshin was invited to the University of Otago in Dunedin presenting a talk entitled ¡°Core teaching of Buddhism¡± sharing the understanding of Buddhism for the lecturers and students there. Head of Department of Theology and Religion for University of Otago - Associate Professor Will Sweetman and Senior Lecturer in Buddhism/Asian Religions ¨C Dr Benjamin Schonthal led their team and students in to listen to the talk alongside FGS South Island Minister in Charge ¨C Venerable Juexi, Venerable Rulian, Buddha¡¯s Light International Association (BLIA) NZ Advisor ¨C Dolly Tsai and 10 more BLIA members.

The Abbess has presented 20 volumes of the English ¡°Encyclopaedia of Buddhist Arts¡± to the University of Otago which was warmly received by Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago - Professor Harlene Hayne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Professor Richard Blaikie, Professor Will Sweetman, Dr Elizabeth Guthrie, Dr Ben Schonthal, Dr Chaisit Suwanvarangkul, Dr John Shaver, Keziah Wallis, Sara Rahmani with librarians and staff at the venue.

The abbess introduced the encyclopedia which consist of more than fifteen thousand pictures, nearly three hundred and eighty thousand words and more than nine thousand items which is a great collective creation of FGS. This is the compassion and idea of the FGS founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun to facilitate the study of Buddhist aesthetics. It took a long 16 years to complete this encyclopedia categorized by artworks and artists according to buildings, grottoes, sculptures, paintings, calligraphies, seal cuttings, crafts and Buddhist art figurines. These are all in the 20 volumes of the encyclopedia with historical significance and artistic value.

Despite the busy schedule of Professor Hayne, she received this precious gift from FGS with gratitude and it will surely be one of the treasures for the library and the university while Professor Richard Blaikie helped in accepting the gift.

The University of Otago has a complete view of the world¡¯s religion for the students and it is treated as a special education in some major research subjects. Buddhism is in one of their main researches and the university regularly invites important devotes from all over the country to give talks to the students and the general public to broaden and grow their knowledge.

In the talk, abbess have used life examples to explain Buddhism as a relationship of a driver and a car. When a car is damaged, the car could be replaced, but the driver remains the same, the driver¡¯s driving habit is still the same, the mind of the driver does not change; in that we can see that, the real impact in life is the mind, which holds a very important role. The abbess then explained other examples to share about Buddhism, like to be positive, to have brightness of hope, to get rid of the passed negative thinking as after the explanation, the audience gets a new experience on Buddhism.

A question and answer session is then being held and the abbess have answered every question lifting the hearts of the audiences without doubt. As for those who thought that the practice of Buddhism is only on suffering, it has now changed their views, where the true meaning of Buddhism is to have passion in life and feel infinite.

After the talk, Professor Will Sweetman thanked the abbess on behalf of the university. It was a wonderful collaboration in between the university and FGS where both parties hope that they will have more chances to collaborate more in knowledge sharing.