Research Papers

Humanistic Buddhism and the Redefinition of “Religious Tourism”: The Buddha Memorial Center as an Integration of Sacred and Profane Space
by Zhi Yue Shih, FGS Institute of Humanistic Buddhism

Since its opening to the public in 2011, the Buddha Memorial Center has modernized the definition of the “religious site” with “worldly practice, transcendental living” as one of its fundamental ideology. While lauded as being one of the top attractions in Taiwan, the Buddha Memorial Center is not without criticism for being a seemingly commercialized tourist hotspot. However, by studying the definition of “religious tourism” advocated by Venerable Master Hsing Yun as compared to other existing definitions, this paper explores how the Buddha Memorial Center exemplifies the religious philosophy of Humanistic Buddhism, how it has challenged preconceived notions of sacred and profane space, as well as how it has contributed to redefining modern-day pilgrimage.

Keywords: Buddha Memorial Center, Humanistic Buddhism, religious tourism, pilgrimage, sacred and profane
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Modern Religious Tourism in Taiwan: A Case Study of Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center
by Shih, Miao Guang, Fellow, FGS Institute of Humanistic Buddhism

Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, is a newly opened Buddhist site in Taiwan, which not only serves as a combined museum, art gallery and religious landmark, but also a diverse cultural, education and art center whose total number of visitors in the first year of its opening exceeded ten million, higher than that of the Louvre in 2012, and has continued to rise in successive years. The Center also became the youngest museum to be recognized as a member of ICOM, receive ISO50001 certification, and listed on Tripadvisor as one of the top three tourist destinations in Taiwan within the first four years of its opening. Owing to more than just the stunning architectural complex and open space layout, a rich collection of permanent and temporary art exhibitions, live Buddhist and Chinese cultural performances, interfaith festivities, as well as social welfare events are among the contributing factors of the Center’s success. This paper aims to study the relationship between the modern approaches of Dharma propagation in Humanistic Buddhism and religious tourism in attempt to discuss the success of Buddha Memorial Center’s development as well as its future prospective in the dissemination of Buddhism.

Keywords: Hsing Yun, Fo Guang Shan, Buddha Memorial Center, museum, religious tourism, education, cultural tourism
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