The 4th Cohort of English BA and Chinese BA Graduates of Buddhist College of Singapore (BCS): Study Trip to China

Posted on 05.07.2017

On 22-27 June 2017, in order to strengthen dharmic friendship among Mahayana Buddhist colleges and visit the founding temples of Chinese Buddhism, Rector Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng led a delegation of 30 people comprising the 4th Cohort of BCS English BA and Chinese BA graduates on a study trip to China for 9 days.

On 22 June at 2.30pm, the delegation visited the State Administration for Religious Affairs of P.R.C. (ARAP) in Beijing and were warmly received by ARAP’s Deputy Director-General Zhang Yantong, Deputy Director of Department Xue Shuqi, and Directors of Division Xue Hui and Wang Lei. Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng thanked ARAP for its continuous support, and introduced the educational philosophy and the progress of BCS in the past ten years. In his welcome address, Deputy Director–General Zhang Yantong said that as we live in an era of golden opportunities, we have to be highly responsible and fulfill our mission. Singapore, as the nexus of Western and Eastern cultures, has a distinctive advantage. He hoped that the graduates could learn from Buddhist wisdom, continue their further studies, become the backbone of society, country, ethnicity and Buddhist community, and contribute to China’s Belt and Road initiative. They should also try to be the bridge to link the Buddhist communities of China and Singapore. ARAP as always will support the strengthening of communication and cooperation between BCS and Buddhist organizations in China. Both sides will assist each other and develop together.

On 23 June at 9am, Most Venerable Chang Zang, Abbot of Ling Guang Temple, cordially received the delegation. He led the delegation in paying respect to the Buddha’s tooth relics, regaled stories about the relics, and served delectable Zen tea in the tea room. Subsequently, Venerable Fa Zhu, Venerable-In-Charge of Ling Guang Temple, gave the delegation a guided tour of the temple.

At 1.30pm, the group was warmly welcomed at Fa Yuan Temple by the Vice Rectors of the Buddhist College of China (BCC), Most Venerable Zong Xing and Venerable Xiang Xue. Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng thanked the Venerables and management team of BCC for their heartfelt hospitality. He added that as BCC is China’s highest Buddhist educational institute and has a long history, BCS on its first graduation trip to China, was eager to interact and learn from BCC’s advanced educational philosophy and experience.

Most Venerable Zong Xing noted that BCC and BCS have deep dharmic connections, having initiated friendly communication since the 1980s, when Most Venerable Hong Choon, then President of Singapore Buddhist Federation, made a special trip to extend congratulations on the re-opening of BCC. He added that the current visit led by Most Venerable Kwang Sheng has further strengthened the deep dharmic friendship built by Venerable Hong Choon, and hoped this tradition could become an established mechanism to promote cordial interaction between the Buddhist communities of both countries.

Most Venerable Zong Xing further congratulated the BCS graduates and hoped that regardless of the country in which they continue their studies and propagate Buddhism, they could continue the friendship between the Buddhist communities of both countries and the tradition of mutual assistance and interaction, strengthen the communication and cooperation with BCC, and propel the dissemination of Mahayana Buddhism. He also hoped that the graduates could apply what they had learnt in BCS, take advantage of their own language competencies, and promote worldwide the propagation and development of Chinese Buddhism and international interaction among the three traditions of Buddhism.  

Subsequently, Venerable Xiang Xue, Venerable Jue Deng (Monastic Training Office Director), Venerable Duo Mi (Deputy Librarian) and Venerable Zhi Yong (Reception Officer of Fa Yuan Temple) showed the delegation around the various departments of BCC and Fa Yuan Temple.

On 24 June at 3pm, the delegation visited Most Venerable Xue Cheng, President of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC) and Abbot of Long Quan Temple. Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng first thanked Most Venerable Xue Cheng, Deputy Secretary Venerable Pu Zheng, Director of Education Department Venerable Yuan Ci and the monastics of Long Quan Temple for their warm welcome. He then noted that Long Quan Temple has a fine reputation for practice and hence he had brought the delegation here, and indeed everyone had learnt much from this experience. Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng also highlighted that as Buddhist work in China is booming, he has always encouraged BCS graduates to further develop themselves in China. Finally, Most Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng invited Most Venerable Xue Cheng to lead a delegation of fellow colleagues and monastics in BAC and Long Quan Temple to visit Singapore.

President Xue Cheng welcomed the visit by Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng and BCS graduates. He enquired about the recent progress of BCS and the future plans of the graduates. He encouraged the graduates to focus on learning and practicing simultaneously: to immerse well in and contribute to monastic life, as well as to keep on learning and benefit sentient beings by propagating the Dharma. Most Venerable Xue Cheng then invited the delegation for dinner, after which a commemorative photo was taken in front of San Hui Hall.

From 26 to 29 June, the delegation stayed in Xi’an. They first visited Da Enci Temple, the founding temple of the Chinese Yogacara school, where Venerable Dao Hong, the Venerable-In-Charge, provided a guided tour of such temple buildings as the Da Yan Pagoda and San Zang Pagoda. In the following days, the delegation also visited Cao Tang Temple (the founding temple of the Three Sastra School), Xiang Ji Temple (the founding temple of the Pure Land School), Jing Ye Temple (the founding temple of the Discipline School), Hua Yan Temple, (the founding temple of the Avatamsaka School), Great Xing Shan Temple (the founding temple of the Chinese Esoteric School), Xing Jiao Temple where a San Zang Pagoda stands, and finally the world famous Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of the Qin Dynasty. Monastics at the various founding temples warmly welcomed the delegation and gave guided tours. Through this BCS study trip, graduates have experienced and learnt much. Monastics from Southeast Asian countries in particular have experienced personally Chinese Buddhist culture and the rapid development taking place in China. It was indeed a graduation trip replete with dharmic joy and gratitude.