Humanistic Buddhism, or Buddhism of the human realm, represents a world-affirming approach to the Buddhist Dharma, which is applicable to the modern world while also being rooted within the Chinese Mahayana tradition. It has originally emerged as a reform movement in early twentieth Century China aimed at rejuvenating the tradition and making Buddhism relevant for our modern times. According to Buddhist doctrine, our world is subdivided into six realms: the realm of the gods, asuras (or half-gods), humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and the hells. For Humanistic Buddhists such as Ven. Master Hsing Yun and his teacher, the great monastic reformer Ven. Taixu, the Chinese Mahayana of the past had been overly preoccupied with ghosts and death. By shifting the emphasis to the human realm, Humanistic Buddhists instead stress that it is the world of the living—and thus modern society—that constitutes the central space for Buddhist practice. Today Humanistic Buddhism is the leading representative of the Chinese Buddhist tradition. Because of the efforts of transnationally operating Buddhist temples such as Fo Guang Shan, Humanistic Buddhism today is not only practiced in the sinophone societies of Asia but has expanded over the whole globe.
Humanistic Buddhism encourages us to integrate Buddha’s teachings into our daily lives, for the benefits of all sentient beings, through kindness, compassion, joyfulness and equanimity. We need to take an active role and join others in the improvement of our present world via education, participation in charitable events and though cultivating (Buddhist practices in our daily lives) ourselves.
Objectives of Humanistic Buddhism as practiced by Fo Guang Shan are:
To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities
To foster talent through education
To benefit society through charitable programs
To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practice