Given the applicability and appeal of Buddhism’s universal values to the wider population, there has been a growing interest in Buddhist studies among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. The field of Buddhist studies, however, is at present not a unified concept. Taking into account the history of Buddhism, as well as the cultural variations that have influenced its teachings, many institutions and centers today opt to adhere to a certain sect’s principles and direction against the teachings and canon from sources of another sect. Furthermore, in order to draw a wider population – namely those not of the Buddhist faith – institutions may also elect to pursue a more practical direction in its teachings, focusing on the practical applicability of Buddhist values without equipping the students with the tools needed to digest and interpret the original canon by themselves.
Rather than siding with a particular sect in the current spectrum of philosophies in Buddhist studies, the Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong Limited (“BDCHK”) has been operating a variety of initiatives including its postgraduate degree programs, which are conferred by the renowned Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. It strives to establish itself as a non-sectarian scholastic institution that aims to provide its students and scholars opportunities to cultivate their own perspectives and interpretation of the original Buddhist canon, as well as a nurturing place to practice what they have learned. Helmed by the internationally recognized Buddhist scholar Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti, BDCHK has drawn an extraordinary team of Sri Lankan, European and Asian academics who share the same goals to join hands in the training of both local and overseas students to become adept not only in understanding Buddhist concepts, but also the language and translation skills necessary to study scriptures from various sources. While emphasizing the need to seriously raise the scholarly standard of Buddhist studies through rigorous and systematic training within the university system, BDCHK also skillfully demonstrates in action that Buddhist studies and spiritual praxis should and indeed be skillfully integrated and harmonized.
Impressed by BDCHK’s efforts, the Foundation has faith that this surprisingly novel direction in Buddhist studies will generate new insights and contribute significantly towards overall academic efforts in understanding the extensive Buddhist canon. As a result, the Foundation has pledged funding support to BDCHK, particularly to its postgraduate degree programs, in order to further the institution’s progress in realizing its dream of cultivating a new generation of non-sectarian scholars.
With the guidance of internationally and locally renowned scholars, their spiritual commitment and facilitated practice, it is hoped that BDCHK will be able to plant the initial seed to foster non-sectarian scholarship in Buddhist studies in Hong Kong and beyond on humanity’s way to seek the ultimate truth.