Master Jinghui memorial
by Peter K, The Buddhist Channel, June 20, 2016
Beijing, China -- Master Jinghui may have passed on three years ago, but his legacy still lives on. He will forever be remembered as the man who tirelessly broke down the walls between devotion to Buddhist ideology and modern living. The man who developed Zen for daily life more than two decades ago. He was solely responsible for the revival of Buddhism and restoration of numerous key temples in China. Through his actions and teachings, he indisputably carved himself a niche in Buddhist history.
His recent memorial was as legendary as Jinghui himself. In a video footage highlighting the event, we find out that the event was graced by highly revered and famous Chinese Buddhist and monks. The video footage starts off with an interview with a renowned German pianist Torsten Reitz, who traveled across the globe to attend the memorial ceremony. Torsten played two piano pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach. The event that was held People’s Hall of Shijiazhuang in Hebei, China, was attended by prolific Buddhist scholars and Jinghui’s disciples from far and wide.
In the footage, Yu Xiaofei, a Buddhist scholar is captured acknowledging that Master Jinghui is a significant figure in Buddhist history. Some of Master Jinghui’s great works like the repair of the repair of the Bailin Temple and his development and launch of Zen for Daily Life are also mentioned in the video. The teachings perpetuated by Zen as mentioned in the footage include appreciating every grain of rice, helping others, and applying a calm, cool and collected attitude to everything in life. Zen for Daily life fast spread as far as Germany. As evidence of this, the footage briefly reviews the moment when Willis Junger director of the Benediktushof Zen center was anointed as a disciple of Master Jing Hui.
Toward the end of the footage, Bernd Groschupp, a judge in Western Germany is captured narrating his experience with Master Jinghui. In the interview, Bernd narrates that a day after his inauguration into discipleship he asked Master Jinghui whether or not he was then a Buddhist. Master Jinghui laughed and told him that he was a human being. Being a Buddhist, Catholic or Muslim is just like the price tag of an item in a shop. Master Jinghui insisted that religion is just like etiquette and not the truth. The ultimate truth was that he was a human being. This narration is christened as the ultimate integration of Buddhism that Master Jinghui was striving for.
The video footage to me is a reminder of many positive impacts Buddhism has had on communities globally and the sacrifices Buddhist leaders have had to make to keep Buddhism alive. Despite having taken a variety of forms over its long history, all forms of Buddhism still respect the teachings of the Buddha and the pursuit of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth. The three major forms of Buddhism are; Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Theravada is common in Southeast Asia, and it focuses on monastic life and meditation. Mahayana is common in China and Japan and focuses on religious rituals, Combination of Zen elements, meditation, and devotion. Mahayana is further subdivided into Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren, and Tendai. Vajrayana is predominant in Tibet and Nepal.
There are thought to be about 360 million followers of Buddhism worldwide. Buddhism has been influential world over. In the west, it has played a key role in the areas of meditation and non-violence. In China, the impact has been more extensive. Ever since Confucianism gave way for Buddhism and Hinduism, its influence in art and daily customs became evident. It replaced Taoism egocentricity with the emphasis on charity and good works. It emphasized working for one’s salvation by helping others. Buddhist practices were slowly absorbed by Taoism. Taoists started creating Buddhist like monasteries and adopted the burning of incense. Buddhists and Taoists acquired common communal festivals. Unlike Confucianism, Buddhism sent a warmer message of salvation through moderation and abstinence. Buddhism also offered a message of pity for all creatures, something which appealed to the masses.
Besides its influence on religious perspectives, Buddhism also impacted art and daily customs. Tea which was previously Buddhist became China’s national drink. Buddhist also introduced the wearing of cotton while their temples influenced Chinese architecture. More importantly, it has over time promoted honesty, sacrifice, contentment, charity and positive attitude in the society since its introduction in China up to date. This has resulted in a peaceful and morally conscious society.
This has however not been without sacrifice by Buddhist leaders. They not only have to give up their families, career and, wealth to pursue religion but also often have to endure prejudice. Master Jinghui serves as a good example as he was once wrongfully accused of being a “Rightest” in 1963 leading to him being forced into “reform through labor” programs in Beijing, Guangzhou among other places. This did not break his spirit. He continued to work tirelessly to revive Buddhism in China. It is such sacrifice that keeps Buddhism alive. Such sacrifice enables Buddhism to continue spreading the message of selflessness and unity all over the world. It can only be hoped that such spirit of sacrifice continues to live in this and following generation of believers.