Mind and body of humanistic Buddhism in practice : a case study of the temple and community of Fo Guang Shan Vienna
Source document: Religio. 2020, vol. 28, iss. 2, pp. -139
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
The Fo Guang Shan (FGS) is an international Chinese-Taiwanese Buddhist order, whose special feature is the concept of humanistic Buddhism, through which the order expands and spreads Chinese/Buddhist culture around the world. The aim of this article is twofold. First, it attempts to contribute to the discussion of FGS's efforts to globalize its philosophy and to analyse specific missionary strategies through which the order spreads its doctrine/culture and consolidates its position in originally non-Buddhist countries. Second, it attempts to provide an overview of the specific space (temple) and community of the FGS order in Vienna. In this text, I argue that the strategies that FGS in Vienna chooses for its self-presentation and to attract members from "Western" socio-cultural backgrounds are based on a well-accepted and sophisticated institutional apparatus and well-designed technologies ("mind and body" of the institution). However, there is a mismatch between the supposed concepts of humanist Buddhism and its application in the propaganda material of the Viennese temple. Furthermore, the relationship between the theoretical concepts underpinning FGS philosophy and the specific practices of the order is of a contradictory nature. The dynamics of this relationship are largely based on the behaviour of local nuns and executives of the community. The results of this study suggest that the disharmony between the philosophy proclaimed by the group and its actual practices could be the main reason that very few members of other socio-cultural backgrounds are attracted to it.