The Ministry of the Interior yesterday inaugurated a “Temple Stay in Taiwan” program that aims to allow domestic and foreign travelers to get a taste of the nation’s religious culture by spending a night at selected Buddhist and Catholic monasteries.
Accompanied by Buddhist Master and founder of Ling Jiou Mountain Monastery Shih Hsin-tao (釋心道), Mount Beatitude Catholic Monastery social welfare center director Yang Yi-tai (楊毅台) and Shan Chih Buddhist Monastery planning department director Yen Shao-cheng (顏紹丞), as well as professional baseball players Chou Si-chi (周思齊) and Chang Cheng-wei (張正偉), Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) unveiled the five religious institutions selected as the first Temple Stay in Taiwan locations.
“Taiwan has a rich and diverse religious culture and it’s the biggest treasure that Taiwan has,” Lee said at a press conference introducing the program at Ling Jiou Mountain Monastery in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), yesterday. “I often tell my friends from abroad that they don’t need to go to Taipei 101, but should rather visit monasteries and temples.”
Lee said that the program would not only benefit visitors culturally and spiritually, but would also help the areas in which the monasteries are situated to develop a local tourism industry.
“For example, when you visit Ling Jiou Mountain Monastery, you can also visit the fishing village of Gongliao and go to the beach nearby,” Lee said.
Following the press conference, Lee took part in meditation, tea drinking and calligraphy sessions, as well as learning how to enjoy a meal in a Zen Buddhist manner.
“The ultimate idea behind the Zen lifestyle is to help everyone lead a simple life,” Buddhist Master Shih Miao-yung (釋妙用) explained to Lee and the other visitors. “We eat food with the least processing so that we can savor the original taste of the food, we appreciate everything we receive from society, we give best wishes to everyone in the society and we try to help other people as much as possible.”