Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition of Venerable Hsing Yun

I'll be leaving for Taiwan tonight for the 2012 International Youth Seminar on Life and Ch'an. I haven't had much sleep yet as I finished a ton of work, packed my stuff and attended a press conference for the One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibit of Venerable Master Hsing Yun at the Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Mabuhay Temple along Pablo Ocampo Street, Manila yesterday morning.

I was there before 9:30 and as I entered the venue, I saw this lovely display of tea cups and tea pots intended for that morning's Tea Ceremony by Junko Takakuwa. Did you know that different kinds of tea cups have different uses? I'll probably discuss that on my food blog next time.

Anyway, the press conference started with Venerable Miao Jing, Head Abbess of FGS Philippines, giving the welcoming remarks. She shared the wisdom and compassion found in the single stroke calligraphy of Venerable Master Hsing Yun such that even with shaking hands and failing eyesight, the venerable master was able to carefully put ink into paper everyday to perform the ancient and contemplative art of Chinese calligraphy in order to write inscriptions meant to both instruct and inspire. 

Venerable Miao Jing, Head Abbess of FGS Philippines, giving the welcoming remarks

Venerable Master Hsing Yun is a 86-year old Buddhist monk. Because of his condition --- the outcome of years of having diabetes --- the old master is forced to finish each piece in a single movement. As soon as the brush hits the parchment, he skillfully moves it from top to bottom without pause. Discontinuation would make it difficult for him to continue to the next character thus leading to the development of the one-stroke calligraphy, a style that is uniquely Venerable Master Hsing Yun's own. 

Venerable Master Hsing Yun with other religious group leaders

Here's one of the venerable Abbesses at Mabuhay Temple showing us how to do the one-stroke calligraphy.

Here's me, trying to copy calligraphy.Hehe. 

Venerable Master Hsing Yun is the founder of Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain) or FGS, a Buddhist order with close to 300 branch temples worldwide. He is also the leading proponent of Humanistic Buddhism, a practical and timely brand of Buddhism that emphasizes the integration of spiritual practices into everyday affairs and works for the promotion of peace and harmony among all human beings.

In the Philippines, FGS temples serve as more than just a place for prayers and rituals. The Mabuhay Temple, for instance, is a ten-story structure that has successfully woven modern facilities with traditional Buddhist practice. It is a multi-functional building equipped with facilities for education, publication, accommodation and different ritual activities, alongside religious services.

Mabuhay Temple's various facilities 

The calligraphy artworks of Venerable Hsing Yun may not show the perfection found in the creations of other great calligraphy masters, but they nonetheless possess great aesthetic and cultural value that stems from the wisdom and compassion of a man who has devoted his entire life in the propagation of the Dharma -- the great body of Buddhist teachings -- and in spreading the spirit of compassion to as many people as possible. In his own words, Venerable Master Hsing Yun said, "My calligraphy does not look great, but I am proud of my intention. Hope you can read my mind through my calligraphy."

Venerable Master Hsing Yun actually started calligraphy pieces as gifts to his disciples and devotees: "Thousands of disciples and devotees of the Venerable Master all over the world have requested him to visit them personally but as much as he would want to grant their requests, his health conditions have limited him to travel from one country to another." explained Ven. Miao Jing, the head abbess of the FGS Philippines. "So he managed to let his presence be felt through his artworks, his calligraphy pieces, which he has especially written for those who have requested them."

Through the years, Venerable Master Hsing Yun was able to create hundreds of one-stroke calligraphy pieces, Originally a way to keep in touch with faraway disciples and devotees, the works of the Venerable Master later became much sought-after items for art collectors and enthusiasts all over the world. Since 2009, the finest works of Venerable Master Hsing Yun has been touring major cities around the globe.

Here in the Philippines, the exhibit has previously been to Cebu and Bacolod. For the first time though - after three long years of waiting --- a hundred-piece collection of Venerable Master Hsing Yun's works --- especially created for Filipinos --- will be exhibited at the Mabuhay Temple in Manila. Proceeds from the exhibit will be used to fund various educational programs in local communities in the Philippines. One particular program that will benefit the One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibit is the Budhi Learning Institute, a ten-month program that aims to provide education for high school graduates all over the Philippines who don't have the means to seek higher education.

Art collectors, art enthusiasts and the general public are invited to the One Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition of Venerable Hsing Yun that will run at the Mabuhay Temple from July 28 to August 31, 2012. This is a rare opportunity to peek into the heart and mind of Venerable Master Hsing Yun and witness his great wisdom and compassion through his truly unique style of calligraphy.

Mabuhay Temple is located at 656 Pablo Ocampo Street (formerly Vito Cruz), Malate, Manila. For more information, you can visit the temple's Facebook page at or call 523-4909. The temple is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

I'll be back from Taiwan on August 3 so I'll still be able to catch the actual exhibit.

My little trip to Mabuhay Temple yesterday ended with this nice vegetarian lunch that was served.

Yesterday morning's rendezvous provided me with a little glimpse of what my life in Taiwan would be like for the next two weeks -- full of Buddhist learning, cultural enrichment and lots of great vegetarian dishes. Can't wait!


Koryn said...

Wow. You really prepared for this! I can't wait to hear about your transformation when you get back :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Of course! This is a once in a lifetime experience after all. :)


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