Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - Globalizing Chinese Buddhist Music: Fo Guang Shan and the "Ten Thousand People Praising the Almighty Buddha" Music Concert in Contemporary Taiwan

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Thurgood Marshall South, Mezzanine

Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) is one of the largest and most influential Buddhist organizations in present-day Taiwan. At present, it has more than 200 branch locations and a million members in all five continents. Venerable Master Hsing Yun (Xingyun 星雲), the founder of Fo Guang Shan, saw music as an effective instrument for Dharma propagation and was among the first monastics to establish a Buddhist choir in Taiwan. Over the decades, Fo Guang Shan has produced and promoted a wide variety of Buddhist music, including traditional Chinese chant (fanbai 梵唄), Taiwanese pop, hip-hop, and rock. Following the opening of the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Kaohsiung, Fo Guang Shan organizes an annual “Ten Thousand People Praising the Almighty Buddha” Music Concert (萬人歌頌佛陀音樂會) at the museum to present the organization’s diverse Buddhist music. This paper seeks to propose, building on Stuart Chandler’s notion of “modern globalization,” that the “Ten Thousand People Praising the Almighty Buddha” Music Concert can be seen as an intersection between Fo Guang Shan’s modernist Buddhist discourses and globalizing strategy. I suggest that the diverse music genres of Fo Guang Shan’s music reflect the transnational Buddhist organization’s attempt to package Humanistic Buddhism (renjian fojiao 人間佛教) for a global audience. This study seeks to contribute to the discussion on Taiwanese Buddhism by focusing on the development and performance of contemporary Chinese Buddhist music.

Ming-yen Lee

National Taiwan University of Arts, Taiwan

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