Buddhist Charity
Liu Yuanchun
14/07/2011 00:01 (GMT+7)

Buddhist charity is not only the need of socialization of charity, but also the important way for the weak social communities to obtain the social supports. To develop the active function of Buddhist charity in constructing harmonious society, Buddhism circle should cultivate and improve the concept of Buddhist charity, building effective mechanism to it, create social credibility of it, and build up charity brand.

Socialization of charity is a development direction of social charity. Buddhism charity must integrate into the social charity and move towards the way of socialization development in order to bring its positive role fully into play. Therefore, we must renew our concept and improve its mechanism to promote the socialization development of Buddhist charity.

1Lead Buddhism circle to tap, play and carry forward Buddhist Thought Resource that helps construction of harmonious society, and improve the concept of Buddhism charity.

There must be a strong and persistent spiritual strength behind any charitable organizations which can survive and develop from small to large and from weak to strong. And its organization system must be the manifestation of its intrinsic spiritual value. The concept of charity consists of two parts, that is, the purposes of setting up the charitable organization and its core concept of attracting the public.

The concept of Buddhist social charity, we think, must be on the premise of social charity to emphasis the core concept of Buddhist charity and wave the flag that is different from general social charity. On this point, there is a deep support of spiritual concept in Buddhist charity. Firstly, with sufficient Buddhist Thought as a basis, the Buddhism charitable concept can form a charity system. Secondly, Buddhist charity can not lead social resentment but arouse the widespread support. Thirdly, with the historical context and realistic resources, the charity can form a mutual system pattern. Fourthly, with the tone of current social charitable culture, the charity can make full advantage of their superiority resources to play a greater role.

The spiritual core pursued by Chinese traditional culture is harmony, perfect penetration, equality and unity. Their own multi-cultural system is based on these. There are lots of inexhaustible precious resources in it. For example, Buddhist thought uses the “Buddha-nature equality” to emphasis the equality of people’s social rights and interests, the “infinitely merciful” to encourage people’s friendly cooperation, the “Yizheng Bu’er” to confirm natural lives’ symbiotic and co- prosperity and the “self-purification” to request their own consciousness. In regard to the concept of religious thought, we have to interpret and change to match the modern context.

Charity is an independent behavior that conforms to humanity goodness. In the course of doing good, one who does good can obtain the dual senses of spiritual joy. One is that their sense of suffering produced by their own sympathy is able to be released; the other, they feel delighted because they see or think unfortunate people’s pain can be reduced. Actually, we specially need to advocate and establish the concept of “Thanksgiving charity”. As long as participants have a natural, sincere and lasting grateful heart, it’ll promote social charity to be healthy.

2Lead Buddhism circle to carry out social welfare activities positively. And it can be national citizens’ responsibility not only demands of Buddhist belief. Then to motivate all believers’ enthusiasm to contribute wisdom for a common duty of building a harmonious society.

Needless to say, there is a religious emotion in Buddhist believers’ social activities based on the belief value, but their social significance conforms to social identical value and is an important way to make people obtain social concern and support. The essence of social concern is social equality and justice and its service object is all citizens. Therefore, social charitable activities in Buddhism circle cannot only be limited in the religious place. To feedback society, service society and participate in solving social problems actively can meet the increasing social needs effectively and can be the most effective way of integrating society and improving Buddhism social impact.

It’s worth noting that we also pay attention to the “non-government Buddhist charitable activities” spontaneously organized by kulapati circle when concerning about social charity of monk group’s “inner-system religious group”, because the most essence significance of charity lies in all citizen’s participation voluntarily. And we think the formation of “social charity” only when “ordinary people charity” is generally built.

3We should according to the characteristic of Buddhism charitable culture, to discuss the establishment of charity brand and take appropriate way to explore social marketing on charity brand and then promote its has a good social model impact.

Today’s society emphasizes on “brand awareness”. It’ll be much more effective if it’s a good brand. Buddhism charitable activities are a little bits and pieces and have lacked their own independent creativity over the years. It cannot help to Buddhism charity to develop a more emotional appealing social culture brand and cannot help to form a positive cycle.

According to social norms, the brand mainly refers to the brand cultural elements in the enterprise culture. As the Buddhism charitable brand, we should pay a great attention to the perfection of the intrinsic concept and the value system to enhance social cognition. At the same time, there must be charitable products to correspond and then to realize charity product and projectization. Charitable, product, to a certain extend, is a commodity. It’s not for profit but for contributing to society and is a good product of moral significance. The key point is that it must adapt to the expression of wishes of participants’ charitable act and to let it be an appropriate carrier of people’s good wishes to meet their spiritual needs of offering their loving and caring.

To promote the charitable product actively is, actually, to promote the way or model of charitable activities. This is a new concept that charity needs marketing. In fact, the marketing here is, which has more specific methods of operation than in the past, to publicize and encourage mechanism. In other words, we not only have a noble charitable concept but have excellent methods of asking for charity offering and then establish the operation system of their own charitable culture. There is not only a big system but many small systems which form the network system and the loving network to extend to all over social circles in the system.

4Establish a normal social donation system to be well-organized and clear division of labor so that charitable donation can be carried out in the sun.

At the present, relatively speaking, Buddhism charities, such as, in Taiwan and Hong Kong and other social charity culture are quite effective, and worth us studying. In Taiwan, the charity culture of Tzu Chi Foundation has been quite mature and made great social achievements. In Hong Kong, Buddhism charity culture such as Cihui Foundation has great influence and can be seen in each parts of mainland. They are Buddhism charity culture that is under the Buddhism concept and models of their operation mechanism are very modern, especially mechanism of management, and also worth us studying.

Tzu Chi Foundation which is organized by Taiwanese Master Cheng Yan and set up in 1966 Taiwan, China has recently quickly grown into a global Buddhism charitable organization. Because of the cross-strait cultural homogeneity, including charity culture, from the view of religious sociology, there must be a typical significance of studying its charity establishment and the transformation of charity culture of its model operation and model backside. From the main types and ways of Master Cheng Yan’s Humanistic Buddhism Thought and Tzu Chi aids, the credibility and system construction of Tzu Chi, the intrinsic driver of its individual charitable activities and other aspects, we study its ideological guide of the operational model, its driving and operational mechanism, system guarantee, how to obtain the achievements and all aspects. And the arguments extracted from the above should be instructive.

5We should learn to absorb the successful experiences of domestic and foreign religious charities, to encourage and support social welfare agencies including hospitals schools, welfare homes, orphanages and community centers which are directly established by Buddhist group, to make full use of money saved by the temples and attract followers to donate money and serve society.

Whatever Chinese Buddhist circle and communities in history and in today’s Taiwan and Hong Kong, there are successful experiences and feasible patterns of independent social charities. According to China’s “Constitution” and the religious policies, religion cannot interfere with politics, judicature, education and other fields and must persist “the policy of freedom of religious belief” and opposite bad things such as religious infiltration. This is an unshakable principle. On this premise, there is no policy and legal obstacle to encourage and support social service agencies directly established by religious circle.

“Strong social organizations and enhance serving social functions. Persist to lay equal stress on cultivating development and managing supervision, perfect the policies of training the assistance and managing social organizations legally and play a role in offering services, reflecting appeals and regularizing behaviors in each kind of social organizations.” (Abstracted from “Decisions of CPC Central Committee on a certain number of Issues of Building a Socialism Harmonious Society” 2006) “Each kind of social organizations” should include charities of religious communities. Even if is not allowed religious circle to establish and fund national educational schools and other institutions, there is no problem to establish pure social welfare services such as hospitals and nursing homes for the old.

6Strengthen staffs in Buddhist organizations to cultivate education on social welfare and social service and to train managers in welfare projects, supervise to establish legal and standard operational mechanism and management system, establish honesty rules such as donated money and publicity of charitable activities and enhance social credibility in Buddhism charity.

It is extremely crucial. If Buddhism charity lacks of effective management, it’s easy to breed corruption. And it would be great harm to the development of social charity. Because Buddhism believes and Buddhism morals basically belong to the bottom lines of social morals and Buddhism charity hopes foe social conscience and anticipation and absorbs a large amount of social resources, donors donate because of their faith and moral pursue and their pure hearts are easy to be destroyed, Buddhism charity must be carried on more effective supervision and management.

Of course, the establishment of institutional Buddhism charitable model depends on whether we carry on institutional innovation and whether to let Buddhism legally have identity of “Religious Corporation” (correspondingly “Corporation Aggregate” and “Incorporated Foundation”). Otherwise, under the circumstance of Buddhism donation money lacking institutional supervision and institutional channels of repaying the society, Buddhism will be not only difficult to upgrade the dignified place of virtue and educating people but exist the danger of crashing into turbidity and polluting social morality and the result of danger will be incalculable in social trust and human kindness.

7Normally publicize and report Buddhist and other religious charities and social services, give them the social honor and status, form the modern social incentive mechanism, change people’s concept, rebuild religious groups’ social images in order to realize the goal of social charity and socialization.

In recent years, there are religious charitable figures and communities’ names in charitable commendations set up by our country’s news media and other relevant agencies. This is a very good start. Nevertheless, some concerned agencies mostly belong to the well-known at home and abroad charity agencies. However, Buddhist charitable activities are also intentional or unintentional “ignored” and “weakened” because of the background of religious faith. Our accustomed phenomenon indeed reduces the enthusiasm that Buddhist believers participate in social charitable activities positively.

We know that media play an obvious role in social charities. The media’s supervision functions are from the publics and the media’s attitudes represent attitudes of general social publics. The awareness that most ordinary people know charitable activities is all obtained through media’s reports. So to call for the whole nations, the whole society and all citizens to join the charities is media’s advantage and medial’s responsibility. If we can change our minds, fully respect religious charitable participants’ belief emotion and citizen dignity and report and commend their social contribution in time, does it help to build a beautiful future that “promote harmony is everybody’s responsibility and a harmonious society is for all”?

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