(Hong Kong, 22 February 2005) Li Ka Shing Foundation and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Centre of Buddhist Studies announced today the setting up of a HK$10 million “Li Chong Yuet Ming Buddhist Studies Research Fund”. Li Ka-shing Foundation’s contribution of HK$ 5 Million would be matched by HKU’s internal funding.
Professor C.F. Lee, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of HKU and Chairman of the Management Committee of the Centre of Buddhist Studies, said that in addition to academic research, the centre also aims to promote the understanding of Buddhism, especially for Hong Kong’s younger generation. He believes that the embrace and the practice of Buddhist teachings would enhance individual wisdom, compassion and equanimity which is a necessary foundation to build and strengthen a moral society.
Professor Lee said that by virtue of HKU being an English-speaking university, the Centre of Buddhist Studies could develop into an international hub of study and research on Buddhism, serving to foster academic exchanges between the East and the West. It is a niche that would set it apart from its foreign counterparts – universities in the West typically attached Buddhist studies to the faculty or Department of Religious Studies, while those in the East, such as Japan, Thailand and mainland China are usually dedicated to studying only pure theories of Buddhism.
Professor Lee said the HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies currently offered 26 modules taught by 14 lecturers, grouped into teams to focus on different schools of Buddhism, with an emphasis on the practical application of Buddhist teachings. The courses were designed to achieve the ultimate goal of serving the society.
Dr Jing Yin, Director of the Centre of Buddhist Studies, will be in charge of research planning and project development. The funds will be directed towards academic research programmes, appointment of world-renowned professors, curriculum development and related activities such as seminars, publications, exchange programmes and the setting up a Buddhist Studies Resource Centre.
Mr Li Ka-shing believes that religion should not be simply viewed as a haven for one’s mind, but more in the context as a living philosophy that inspires and enriches one’s life. Mr Li believes that the study of philosophical interpretations is an important topic of the Humanities. His Holiness the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng’s teachings “Give rise to the mind which abides nowhere” and “Realise one’s original mind, and see one’s original nature and become a Buddha” talked about enlightenment, where “A mountain is a mountain and a stream is a stream, even through the eyes of an enlightened mind, the mountain is still a mountain and the stream still a stream.” It is the limitlessness of one’s mind that sets one’s perspectives alive to the demands of daily living, undisturbed by any external circumstances and capable of reaching new heights.
About the Centre of Buddhist Studies of The University of Hong Kong
The Centre of Buddhist Studies of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) was established in September 2000 to provide a solid research and teaching base with the aims of systematising Buddhist studies, building it as a professional branch of knowledge, facilitating academic exchanges on Buddhist studies between China and the rest of the world, and fostering scholarly research development in Buddhist studies in both the east and the west.
The Centre started to offer undergraduate courses in 2001 and master’s degree courses in 2002. It is the first university in Hong Kong to offer a master’s degree programme in Buddhist Studies with a focus on the practical application of Buddhist teachings in modern society. The Centre is now planning to offer doctorate degree and postgraduate diploma programmes in Buddhist Studies in 2005/06, to facilitate more serious researches into different realms of Buddhism.
Taking advantage of HKU being a university that adopts English as its chief medium of instruction, the Centre is poised to become the world’s first bilingual Buddhist studies centre dedicated to Chinese-to-English translation work for Han Buddhism, with the aim of enhancing the status of Chinese-language Buddhist studies in the international academic arena.
The Centre operates as a self-funded teaching department of HKU. The majority of its funding comes from donors who contribute of their own accord. It is with the generous donations from institutional and individual donors alike that the Centre is able to pursue its mission and develop its work in the past three years or so, laying a solid foundation for Hong Kong’s first dedicated research institution for Buddhist studies.