Buddhists put on a happy face

Vancouver Sun, May 8, 2006

VANCOUVER, Canada -- A large Buddhist charity foundation wants 3,000 people to smile for global harmony next weekend in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation wants to create one of the biggest smiley faces of all time. Big as a giant smiling Buddha.

The event is the brainchild of Gary Ho, the 59-year-old multimillionaire property developer who serves as chief executive officer of the large Canadian arm of the Tzu Chi organization.

Ho said the group's founder in Taiwan -- Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun -- had urged Canadian Tsu Chi members to do something to mark the group's 40th anniversary.

"So we thought: What can we present to Vancouver? What do we get from serving the community? And then I thought we gain a smile. We gain harmony."