Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery 華藏寺

Our History 華藏寺歷史

Early Days

In 1977, Venerable Tsang Hui migrated to Australia with the hope of sharing the teachings of the Buddha with the west. He was appointed the Abbot of the Prajna Temple and preached Dharma at the Australian Society of Chinese Buddhism.

Following an illness that saw him left the temple, the Venerable moved to Redfern where he began to teach Buddhism to curious locals. With limited resources, the Venerable worked at the post office to support himself, and it was through these every day interactions that he met and began helping the children of Indo-China refugee migrants in their studies. This marked the beginning of the Hwa Tsang Monastery Tuition Class.

In 1981, with the encouragement of Venerable Bai Sheng, Venerable Tsang Hui formed the Hwa Tsang Monastery (HTM) with just a few devotees.

On 16 December, 1984, the HTM Interim Committee was formed and the HTM Constitution was drafted. It was hoped the monastery could become a more organised and structured organisation. After many years of hard work, HTM was officially founded on the 19 May 1985 with Venerable Tsang Hui appointed as the founding Abbot. A Board of Director and an Executive Committee were also formed to help Venerable run the activities of HTM.

The aims of HTM were established as:

To encourage the practice and the propagation of Buddhism in Australia;
To encourage, foster and promote education among the Australian community;
To foster mutual understanding and friendship between the Buddhist and other religious groups and the Australian public;
To provide welfare services to those who need help in the Australian community; and
To develop the monastery to benefit the interest of its members and of all Buddhists in Australia.

Governance

The Board of Director of HTM is formed by the Sangha members and the founding members. The founding members are also the life members of HTM.

Directors are also elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and serve a term of two years. They are members of the monastery who show great concern and care about the monastery’s development.

In addition, HTM also formed the Executive Committee to manage the activities of the monastery. The office bearers of the Executive Committee are nominated and elected by the Directors at the AGM. Their term of office is also two years. The Executive Committee calls a meeting every month to discuss the matters and activities of the monastery. An AGM is also called every year to provide financial and activity reports to the members.

At the beginning, the Executive Committee only consisted of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Social Secretary. As time passed, the number of sub-committees increased.

HTM has also formed a Property Executive Committee to ensure that the custody of the monastery’s properties abides by the secular laws as well as to the Buddha’s teachings. All HTM’s properties are under the name of Hwa Tsang Monastery Inc.

The Monastery’s Growth

In 1985, HTM moved to its current address in Homebush, in Sydney’s inner west. The initial development application in 1986 was rejected by the local council on the grounds that it was not beneficial to the community.

However, the demand from the community seeking a place for learning and worship continued to grow and could no longer be met within the confines of a residential house.

In July 1988, HTM submitted its new monastery development plan to the Strathfield Council. Due to a lack of understanding of Buddhism, this application brought great debate among the local residents. There were also many articles in the local newspapers criticising the monastery project.

In order to gain acceptance for the monastery, the HTM Tuition Class students undertook a door knocking campaign around Strathfield Municipality to personally explain the reason and future plan of the project.

According to the council’s record, 890 letters and 840 signatures in favour of the project were received, and there were only 25 letters and 273 signatures of objection. However, the application was still not approved by the council.

Undeterred, Venerable Tsang Hui and the monastery lodged in an appeal to the Land and Environment Court. A three-day hearing was held in May 1989. On 1 June, 1989, under the blessing of the Triple Gem, the Land and Environment Court approved the development of HTM. This set a precedent in Australian Buddhism and will hopefully pave a smoother way for any future applications.

In making his judgement, the judge said: “…It became plain that the intensity of the opposition to the subject development was, in some instances, influenced by the circumstance that the religious institution was a Buddhist monastery. All residents were at pains to volunteer that their views were not “racist” and I accept their assessment of their objections. The question of what does or does no qualify as “racism” was not explored in the proceedings but because the word was bandied about during the course of the hearing, I feel bound to express my opinion that I do not think any objector is a “racist” just because he or she objects to Buddhist temple functioning next door or in the near vicinity. It was stated explicitly by some and was implicit in the evidence of others that the opposition would not have been so intense had a comparable Christian establishment been proposed.

…It is made clear by the evidence, there is a need for the monastery in the sense that there are many people who wish to have a place to congregate as Buddhists. The subject land is zoned residential but churches and educational establishments are permissible in residential areas. There are many churches in residential areas in Sydney, some of which have functions and undertake activities more intrusive than the subject proposal…

I am, however, confident that most other people who have expressed hostility to the concept will, with the passage of time, accept the monastery in the same way they presently accept the Lutheran church. I have already mentioned that the precinct is dominated by the Homebush Boys’ High School; there is a large Lutheran church in the vicinity and the monastery is proposed to be erected right next door to commercial tennis court. In my opinion, development should be granted subject to the conditions which I annex to this judgement.”

This short insight into the struggle to create the monastery as it is today is to encourage all Buddhists to understand that it was not easy for the monastery to come true. We should value the monastery that we have and practise diligently and be good citizens. In this way, we can repay the kindness of the country, the Triple Gem and all the people.

The new building of HTM was officially opened on the 6 December 1992.

華藏寺歷史

早期
1977年,藏慧法師抱著與西方社會分享佛法的理想,移民澳洲。初任雪梨般若堂住持並於該寺澳洲中華佛學研究社弘法。後因病離開般若堂,遷居Redfern 。開始在該區對佛教好奇的居民講授佛法。由於資源有限,法師在郵局打工以自維持生計。也因為生活上的接觸,認識了中南半島難民移民,並開始幫助年輕難民子弟們在課業上的輔導。這標記了華藏寺補習班的開始。

1981年,在白聖長老的鼓勵下,及僅有少數信眾的情況下,藏慧法師成立了華藏寺(HTM)。

1984年12月16日華藏寺籌備委員會成立,並起草了章程,以期華藏寺能成為一個更有組織性和結構化的團體。經過多年的努力,華藏寺終於在1985年5月19日正式成立,以藏慧法師為開山住持。同時組成了董事會和執行委員會,協助法師推動各項活動。

我們的宗旨:
1) 在澳洲實踐及弘揚佛法;
2) 在澳洲社區鼓勵、促進、推廣各類教育;
3) 促進佛教徒和其他宗教團體,以及澳洲社會大眾彼此間的了解和友誼;
4) 為澳洲社區內需要幫助的人提供福利服務;
5) 發展華藏寺,造福其成員和澳洲所有佛教徒。

組織管理
華藏寺董事會是由僧眾和創始成員組成。創始成員亦為華藏寺終生會員。董事會也包括每兩年在常年大會中選出的董事。這些董事是兩年一任。他們是關心華藏寺之發展,熱心協助華藏寺的善信。

另外,華藏寺有執行委員會,實際推動寺院的各項活動。執行委員是由董事會,在常年大會中提名選出,他們的任期亦為兩年。執行委員會每個月召開會議,討論寺裡各種事務和活動,一年一度召開常年大會,提供會員寺院的財務及活動報告。

起初,執行委員會只有會長、副會長、秘書、財務、福利組秘書等職位。隨著時間推移,活動小組也逐漸增加。

此外, 華藏寺亦成立寺產管理委員會,確保寺產的管理符合世間法律,同時不違背佛法。華藏寺的所有寺產皆以華藏寺立名。

華藏寺的成長
1985年,華藏寺遷移至目前在悉尼內西區Homebush的地址。1986年,初次向市政廳呈上寺院發展計畫,但卻被市政廳以不能利益公眾的理由而回絕。

但事實上,社區民眾希望有一可以學習和禮佛的地方,這樣的需求不斷增加,早已不能滿足於侷限在一間住宅屋內。

1988年7月,華藏寺再次向市政廳遞交一份新的寺院發展計畫。由於對佛教缺乏認識,此申請在當地居民中,引起極大的爭議。地方報紙亦有許多文章,評擊華藏寺的發展計畫。

為了能獲得居民的接納,補習班的學生全體出動,在Strathfield 區挨家挨戶,解釋寺院發展計畫的緣由和未來計畫,以求公眾的理解與支持。

根據市政廳紀錄,有890封信和840個簽名支持我們的計畫,只有25封信和273個簽名反對。然而市政廳仍然沒有批准我們的申請。

但是藏慧法師和華藏寺不屈不撓,向土地和環境法院提出上訴。三天的聽證會在1989年5月舉行。1989年6月1日,在三寶護念下,土地和環境法院批准了華藏寺的申請。這在澳洲為佛教開創了先例,也希望這能為未來的申請舖設一條比較平坦的道路。

在宣判此案時,法官說道:「… 許多反對者強調他們並非種族歧視,而我也不願以反對佛寺的建設來判斷一個人是種族歧視。但是,一些直接或間接的證據卻說明,如果所要建的不是一所佛教寺院,而是一所基督教堂,反對的聲浪將不會如此激烈。… 諸多證據也證明,許多佛教徒期盼能有所佛寺讓大家同聚共修。華藏寺雖處於住宅區,但教堂與教育設施在住宅區是許可的。悉尼的許多住宅區裡都有教堂。華藏寺的斜對面即有一所教堂,而在這地區佔地最大同時最明顯的建築物即是Homebush中學。 … 我希望,也深信,反對此項計畫的公眾,隨著時間的流逝,亦能像他們接受現有的教堂一樣的接受華藏寺。」

上面簡短敘述華藏寺如何奮鬥而有今天的規模,是為了鼓勵所有佛教徒,能了解華藏寺的成立來之不易。我們應當珍惜,精勤修學,做一個好公民。這樣我們才能報答國家、三寶,以及大眾的恩德。

1992年12月6日,華藏寺新建築正式開幕啟用。