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UPDATED: May 9, 2014 NO. 15 APRIL 12, 2012
Ancient Virtues for the Virtual World
Leading Chinese Buddhist connects to followers via the Internet
By Tang Yuankai

ONLINE EXCHANGE: Venerable Master Xuecheng communicates with netizens in Beijing on March 13, 2012 (REN QINQIN)

Many people, including foreigners, know Venerable Master Xuecheng, a famous Chinese Buddhist leader. He is the abbot of three temples, Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China, and Vice President of the Buddhist Academy of China.

However, in spite of the grandiose titles, the reason why Master Xuecheng has become so widely known is because of the Internet­—

He is a prolific blogger.

Exploding popularity

As early as February 2006, Xuecheng established his personal blog. He became the first eminent Chinese monk to establish a blog and spread Buddhism online in the Chinese Buddhist circles.

On April 11, 2009, his micro-blog accounts in sina.com.cn and qq.com were set up, with the hope of spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in the vast Internet community. On February 17, 2011, his micro-blogs went multi-lingual.

When Xuecheng posts in Chinese, more than 170 translators from all over the world translate his messages into English, French, Russian, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Korean.

"Rapidly developing media technology has turned the world into a global village. Human beings are living in a community where their destinies are inter-connected. The peaceful coexistence of different civilizations has become an irreversible trend," said Xuecheng.

It is significant for different civilizations to resolve conflicts, build friendship and join hands in development, said Xuecheng.

So far, the Buddhist celebrity's micro-blog is followed by people from more than 100 countries. Over 200,000 fans follow his Chinese micro-blogs (weibo.com/xuecheng, and t.qq.com/xuechengfashi), rivaling the popularity of some movie stars. He also has Facebook and Twitter accounts and is a registered user on micro-blog websites in several countries, including Canada, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

When asked why he decided to establish a micro-blog, Xuecheng said it was quite accidental. "A friend established a micro-blog account for me. It would have been disrespectful to decline."

But he didn't pay much attention until the micro-blog achieved unexpected influence. This aroused his interest in the Internet.

He found the Internet could connect Buddhism and society, narrow down the distance between people and quickly spread the Buddhist wisdom of benevolence, equality and harmony.

"Although a monk doesn't need the Internet during personal meditation, the Internet is very significant in spreading Buddhism and bringing benefits to all human beings. Nowadays, it is not realistic for Buddhist followers, the general public and foreign friends to go to the temple for Buddhist lectures every day. However, they do use computers every day," said Xuecheng.

"Buddhism should keep up with the times and embrace modern technology to promote Buddha's teachings in an innovative and recipient-friendly way."

In 1982, then 16-year-old Xuecheng had his head shaved and became a monk in the Guanghua Temple in Putian, south China's Fujian Province. Since then he has dedicated his entire life to Buddhism.

In 1989, he became the youngest abbot in China with a master's degree. Later in 2004, he was chosen as the abbot of the Famen Temple, a world-famous temple in Fufeng, Shaanxi Province, where the finger bone relic of the Sakyamuni Buddha is enshrined.

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