Studying Buddhism in Taiwan?

I would appreciate any information on studying Buddhism in Taiwan. What is the best way to get information about monasteries or possibly visa information to live in Taiwan as a student of Buddhism at a monastery, etc.
Any leads in the right direction would also be much appreciated. Thank you very much

There’s a cool Buddhist university in the mountins between Taipei and Ilan which would be great to study at. Sorry I don’t knwo the name or anything though…


Does this Buddist university have classes for foreigners?

Do you speak Chinese?

Are you intent on studying the particular forms of Buddhism that are mainly practised here, or are you generally interested in finding out about Buddhism?

If you do not speak Chinese, I’m afraid that the options are still quite limited. I only know of one English-language dharma class. It’s weekly on Saturday mornings, it’s in Taipei and it’s run by a Chan Buddhist community. (the Chan school is similar to Zen from Japan; indeed the word Zen is derived from the Chinese word Chan). My friend often goes there and according to his accounts, they seem like a genuine and reliable organisation, and the classes are good.
If you’re interested, I can ask my friend and pass on the details to you.

As regards living and studying in a monastery, I saw one foreigner doing that at Shitoushan. If I remember correctly, he was wearing monk’s robes, which would indicate that he had taken ordination as a monk (i.e. a very serious commitment to uphold the vinaya - the code of conduct for monks - for life).
I saw another foreign monk at the centre of the ‘Buddha’s Light Foundation’ (Foguanshan) near Kaoshiung (Gaoxiong).
It may be possible to live and study in a monastery as a layperson but I think you’d have to speak pretty good Chinese anyway.

I’m a student of Tibetan Buddhism. I am lucky enough to have met a very good lama in the UK, and I go back to receive teachings from time to time. One of his own lamas, His Eminence Phende Rinpoche, spends several months each year in Taipei, but his English is quite limited, my Chinese is poor and I don’t speak any Tibetan, so while I’m able to meet him once or twice a year, my textual study is on textual teachings and commentaries recieved from my main lama in the UK.

With all organisations and teachers from all Buddhist traditions, it’s advisable to have some background knowledge and to examine their ‘credentials’ thoroughly. There are a lot of spurious and self-appointed teachers around. Nevertheless, it is my general impression that many of the Chinese Buddhist organisations in Taiwan are authentic and sincere in their study and practice, and belong to genuine Buddhist lineages.
With Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan at the moment, the situation is less clear-cut. It seems that some people are interested in Tibetan Buddhism chiefly because they think it has magic that can help them get more money, etc, and some less reputable teachers of Tibetan or other origins are only too happy to exploit this.

Bearing the above caveats in mind, I recommend to you David Reid’s excellent page on Buddhism in Taiwan which has some good information and links;

Best wishes.

Instead of using the word foreigner, I should have said novice. I do speak chinese but only at a basic conversational level. I grew up in a catholic community and now that I am taiwan, I would really like to expand my mind and enrich my education with some cultural aspects. I have a deep appreciation for buddism, my best friend in university was a buddist nun. So I have a basic understanding of Buddism but would really like to learn more.

Thanks for the link!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes about his meeting with Pope Paul VI;
‘…I took the opportunity to express to him my belief in the importance of spiritual values for all humanity, no matter what the particular creed. He was in complete agreement with me and we parted on very good terms.’

Although there are profound philosophical differences between Buddhism and theistic religions such as Christianity, they share many core moral values. People from all religions should support each other.

I forgot; I think this link on David’s site; … /index.htm
is to the same classes my friend goes to. They sound like a very good introduction to Buddhism, in particular the Chinese, Chan tradition.

The name is Huafan University. (Chinese and English website)

Two of the largest Buddhist organisations in Taiwan are Dharma Drum Mountain and Fo Guang Shan. Both these organisations accept foreigners and have study programmes that foreigners could join. If you demonstrated sufficient interest they would accept you without knowing Chinese, but of course you would be expected to learn. The other major Buddhist organisation in Taiwan is Tzu Chi. Most of their activities are focused on social welfare rather than studying Buddhism per se. I have the greatest respect for this organisation. There are many other smaller Buddhist organisations that may be helpful. It is probably just a matter of contacting or visiting them to find out more.

There is also the Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan which distributes free Dharma books (in Chinese and English). Address:
11F., 55 Hang Chow South Road Sec1, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Tel: 886-2-23951198 , Fax: 886-2-23913415,

As joesax noted you need to take a little care in approaching Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan. That said there are many Tibetan Buddhist centers here and also some important lamas visit Taiwan quite regularly. You will also find some monks and lamas can speak English, especially if they have lived in India and Nepal.

I think the best reason for studying Buddhism in Taiwan is if you are a woman. Sadly most Buddhist traditions and countries have a F@#$ed up attitude towards women and especially nuns. Here in Taiwan Buddhism is dominated by women. There are many more nuns than monks. This is a good thing.