From the heart: The calligraphy of Venerable Master Hsing Yun

Ime Morales
The 100-piece exhibit is on display at the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Manila

SOME OF THE 100-PIECE calligraphy artworks by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. All photos by Ime Morales

MANILA, Philippines – At the opening ceremony of Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s One Stroke Calligraphy exhibit at the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Manila, I was thinking about Scarborough Shoal. 

At probably the same moment that the nearly-blind Buddhist master was inscribing messages of love and peace for the people of the Philippines, Chinese vessels were busy guarding their interests in the disputed area. 

There should be more Buddhists like Venerable Master Hsing Yun then, I thought.

And why not? Gandhi did not think the connection is absurd: “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”

The beauty of peace

HEAD ABBESS VEN. MIAO Jing with Mayor Alfredo Lim and other special guests during the opening ceremony in July

One of the calligraphy pieces on exhibit is an artwork that means: “Peace is the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Other artworks included in the 100-piece collection are: “Cherish Your Blessings,” “Emptiness Embraces All,” “Endurance is Power,” “Buddha” and “Happiness.”

The Venerable Master Hsing Yun created all of these pieces exclusively for the Filipino people. 

Since 2009, the finest works of Venerable Master Hsing Yun have been touring major cities around the globe, including Cebu, Davao and Bacolod. But this is the first time for Manila, and art enthusiasts and collectors are thrilled.

The Master’s unique style has inspired and amazed disciples, students, art aficionados and collectors worldwide.

“He sends his greeting through calligraphy”

VEN. MIAO JING AND Mayor Lim walk towards the exhibit area

Venerable Master Hsing Yun is the founder of Fo Guang Shan (Buddha’s Light Mountain), one of the largest Buddhist orders with close to 300 branch temples worldwide.

He was born in 1927 in Jiangsu, China and is the 48th patriarch of the Linji Chan School of Buddhism.

He devoted his life to sharing Humanistic Buddhism, which emphasizes the integration of spiritual practices into everyday affairs and the promotion of peace and harmony among all human beings. 

Old age and sickness have taken its toll on the physical body of the Master, but these did not dampen his spirits.

To this day, he continues to write daily inscriptions and uses calligraphy to inspire and instruct, to touch hearts and transform societies around the world.

What is one-stroke calligraphy?

A GUEST VIEWS THE calligraphy artworks on display

To the followers and practitioners of calligraphy, it is not merely beautiful writing.

The Tibetan meditation master, the XIth Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, had called it “dharma art,” or work that springs from the artist’s meditative state.

In China, Shu Fa (calligraphy) has been regarded as the most abstract and sublime art form, with the power to reveal the artist’s personality. To many, calligraphy is a kind of spiritual celebration.

Because of illness, shaking hands and poor eyesight, Venerable Master Hsing Yun is not able to execute the characters in precise and separate strokes. He works on a calligraphy piece in one swift movement.

What seemed like a limitation was turned into an opportunity as his method quickly became known as the one-stroke calligraphy style. 

The exhibit and more

THE GUANYIN WISHING POND at the entrance of the Fo Guang Shan Temple. Guanyin is known as the bodhisattva of great compassion.

Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim was the guest of honor during the exhibit opening.

He formally opened the exhibition together with other special guests: Education undersecretary Yolanda Quijano, Philippine Seng Guan Temple Abbot Most Venerable Chuan Yin, Taipei Economic & Culture Office in the Philippines administration director Chen Ing-Lan, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Tan Ching, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry honorary president Alfonso Uy, Philippines Soong Ching Ling Foundation founding president Larry Villareal, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry honorary president Admiral Sy Robin and FGS Mabuhay Temple benefactors Mariano Tan, David Choy, Brigido Onglingkuan, Benito Keh, Chua Tian It and Lorenzo Cabilangan.

FGS Philippines head abbess Venerable Miao Jing and Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Philippines president Maria Tiutoc welcomed the guests.

You can catch the calligraphy exhibit until August 31, 2012; but there are other reasons to drop by Fo Guang Shan:

  • To try out the vegetarian fare at the Waterdrop Teahouse
  • To attend the various classes they offer (yoga, tai chi, flamenco, Mandarin, cooking, handwriting, floral design, basic computer and meditation)
  • To watch films for free during the monthly Dharma Cinema Circle
  • To attend lectures in Buddhist philosophy, the Open Mic Night (the monthly culture/arts gathering) and the English Buddhist Prayer every 2nd Sunday of the month at 10:00 am. 



For more information about their programs, you may call 559-9540. –

FGS Mabuhay Temple is located at 656 Pablo Ocampo St. (formerly Vito Cruz), Malate, Manila. The temple is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. 

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