The connection between Ven. Wei Wu and me actually started long before I met him. It turned out that my dear late mother had mentored Venerable as a young boy in Penang. Only years after my mother’s passing, when I took on the path of a Buddhist practitioner myself, did I come to know Venerable and see how much he has contributed to propagating buddhadharma in Malaysia and beyond. I was most impressed by his nonsectarian attitude toward Buddhism, which very much resonates with the lineage and practice of my teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
In an interview marking the 25th year of his ordination, Ven. Wei Wu explained that although he founded Than Hsiang Temple in 1985, he was not ordained until 1992 because as a total quality management consultant for Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, and other multinational companies, he felt that to be responsible to his customers he had to train a reliable successor before he could leave his lay career. Before his ordination as a monk, he devoted much time and energy as an active lay Buddhist to building up Than Hsiang’s following and organization. Both in his role as a lay Buddhist and as a monk propagating the buddhadharma, Ven. Wei Wu has truly manifested boundless compassion and wisdom.
Than Hsiang soon became a leading Mahayana organization in Malaysia. Than Hsiang soon became a leading Mahayana organization in Malaysia which offers not only dharma servicies but also various educational and community services ranging from kindergarten, Buddhist primary and secondary schools, welfare care, senior care homes and more.
Another thing that few people know is that Ven. Wei Wu was the first Chinese translator for Rinpoche in Malaysia back in the 1980s when Venerable was still a lay person. What an amazing connection he has with Rinpoche!
In 2005, Venerable embarked on another important mission: to seek common ground with other Buddhist traditions and collaborate with them to uplift the training and education of monks from various countries in Asia. He was the moving force behind the founding of the International Buddhist College (IBC) in Sadao, in southern Thailand. Buddhist scholars from all three traditions were invited to teach at this institute of higher education. Ven. Wei Wu’s vision is for this institution to be a center for serious students of Buddhism to interact and seek commonality, through the highest standards of scholarly exchange.
A few years later, as the chair of KF’s Scholarship Committee, I had the opportunity to connect Khyentse Foundation with Ven. Wei Wu, which led to a steady long-term relationship between the foundation and IBC in supporting monks and nuns from countries of the Theravadin tradition. I am delighted that Khyentse Foundation has granted Ven. Wei Wu the Khyentse Fellowship award, the highest recognition and honor the foundation offers to an individual. I truly rejoice in his tireless efforts to propagate Buddhism and Buddhist studies, and I’m so very proud of this fellow Malaysian from my hometown!
The Collaboration Between IBC and KF
IBC is a nonprofit Buddhist educational institution sponsored by Than Hsiang Foundation in Malaysia. As a truly international institution, IBC offers instruction in English and Chinese and currently has students and teachers from more than 20 countries. A unique feature of the institution is its equal emphasis on study and practice.
KF’s relationship with IBC started in 2016 with a $3,000 joint scholarship, supported equally by KF and IBC, that was offered to three monks. Each year, three additional monastic students were awarded the scholarships, with preference given to monastic students from traditionally Theravadin countries. In 2019, the KF grant totaled $18,000 and it supported twelve monks and nuns from Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. IBC is a gateway for KF to support the Buddhist mother countries in Southeast Asia, and we foresee the connection between the two organizations growing stronger and deeper in the future.