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January 2021

 

Walking the Bodhisattva Path

The Guan Yin statue at Than Hsiang Temple

Welcome to 2021!  Khyentse Foundation wishes all of you a very happy new year. We would like to start the year with some joyful news by announcing the sixth Khyentse Fellowship award to Venerable Wei Wu of Malaysia. We invited Florence Koh to share the story of Ven. Wei Wu’s transition from his position as an engineer in an electronic manufacturing firm in Penang to the founder of Than Hsiang Temple, a leading Mahayana organization with branches in several states of peninsular Malaysia, and then to founding the International Buddhist College in Thailand. 

Venerable Wei Wu Named 2020 Khyentse Fellow 

Khyentse Foundation and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche are pleased to honor Ven. Wei Wu as the 2020 Khyentse Fellow, the highest KF award to an individual, in recognition of his immeasurable and outstanding contribution to the promotion of Buddhadharma and Buddhist education over the past decades.  

Ven. Wei Wu

The Khyentse Fellowship was established in 2011 to recognize individuals who have devoted their life and career to preserve, promote, and uphold the buddhadharma. Past recipients of the fellowship include Alak Zenkar Rinpoche (Tudeng Nima Rinpoche), Prof. Peter Skilling, Prof. Ven. Dhammajoti, John Canti and Wulston Fletcher and Prof. Gao Mingdao. This year, we are very pleased to award the fellowship to Ven. Wei Wu. We are particularly impressed and inspired by his work with the Than Hsiang Temple/Foundation in Malaysia and the International Buddhist College in Thailand. 

Ven. Wei Wu presenting an award to a graduating monk at the IBC annual convocation

 As an expression of our gratitude for Ven. Wei Wu’s unceasing work and his dedication and devotion to preserving and promoting the Buddha’s teachings and their applications in the world, Khyentse Foundation offers him an award of US$30,000. 

In expressing his gratitude for the award, Ven. Wei Wu said, ‘I feel very honored and humbled to receive this fellowship from Khyentse Foundation. I share this honor with the members of Than Hsiang Temple/Foundation and International Buddhist College. They also rejoice in the great contribution of Khyentse Foundation for the promotion of buddhadharma.’

At a time when the entire world is going through all kinds of health, climate, economic, and political upheavals, we need bodhisattvas like Venerable Wei Wu more than ever before. We take this opportunity to officially acknowledge him for all his hard work, and we pray for his valuable efforts to continue and to flourish for the benefit of all sentient beings. 

Walking the Bodhisattva Path

By Florence Koh

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.

Than Hsiang Temple dharma community activities | Above photos clockwise left to right: Than Hsiang Temple in Penang, Malaysia; Seven-day Amitabha name chanting; Dharma assembly at Than Hsiang, Than Hsiang kindergarten students, Than Hsiang Sunday school, Welfare financial assistance and senior care.

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.

IBC Sadao campus

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!

Above photos from left to right: IBC students at the library; Students having a discussion with their teacher; Annual Kathina (robe) offering at IBC; Students celebrating mid-autumn festival at IBC.

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.

In Other News

  • Introducing the Triratna Anusmriti Sadhana (the sadhana of The Recollection of the Noble Three Jewels), an online ongoing group practice initiated by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. You can integrate this beautiful sadhana into your daily lives as a means to systematically and sincerely manage and train your minds. Everyone is welcome to join. Check it out.
  • KF’s Ashoka Grant is open for applications from January 15, 2021 to February 15, 2021.
  • The nomination period for KF Outstanding Dissertations in Buddhist Studies Award for Europe ends January 31, 2021.
  • Call for video footage of Khyentse Foundation projects: Have you received a grant or scholarship from Khyentse Foundation in the past? We invite you to be part of a 2021-22 celebration commemorating the foundation’s 21st anniversary. We’re looking for video clips from the people and programs we’ve supported over the past two decades. These videos could be interviews, event footage, or a personal testimonial. For full information, contact info@khyentsefoundation.org.