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Chung Tai Chan Monastery opens first-ever branch in Central Europe

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Four years after its endeavor to propagate Buddhism in Linz, Austria, the Chung Tai Chan Monastery (中台襌寺) recently celebrated the grand opening of the Chung Tai Zen Center of Linz, also called the Zen Buddhism Center in Austria (奧地利普法精舍). This is the monastery's 108th worldwide branch and the first outpost in Central Europe.

The opening ceremony, featuring an ascension of Buddha pedestal and a Buddhist scripture study assembly, was presided over by Master Jien-Deng (見燈), who flew in all the way from Taiwan. More than 140 worshippers, including overseas Chinese, locals and representatives from Taiwan, Italy and Germany, graced the event by their presence. Sixty people in the study assembly were converts to Buddhism.

Buddhism hadn't been recognized as a legitimate religion until 30 years ago. Two masters, Jien-Shun (見馴) and Jien-Muo (見模), were first posted to Linz on October 2009. Both are now in charge of the Linz center's operation and Buddhism propagation.

A representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) who attended the celebrations said in a speech that before the grand opening, he attended the 30th anniversary of the day when Buddhism was legitimized in Austria.

The MOFA representative noted that the anniversary attendees were about 500 strong and come from political, cultural and religious communities in Austria. He emphasized that all these are positive signs that Buddhism is taking root and gaining more and more respect in European countries, which have strong Christian traditions.

The official said that with Jien-Shun and Jien-Muo collaborating with the faithful, Chung Tai Chan Monastery finally managed to establish the Linz center as a Buddhist land of sublimity which will initiate a new era of Buddhism dissemination in Europe for the monastery.

Linz is Austria's third-largest city and biggest industrial base, located in the country's north. Chinese expatriates in the city mainly come from Taiwan, mainland China and the Indo-China Peninsula. Ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have settled in Linz, and now number almost 4000.

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Representative Chen Lien-chun (陳連軍), of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of Vienna, Austria, meets with the leader of an Austria-based branch of the Buddhist organization Chung Tai Chan (中台禪寺), yesterday. In commemorating the opening of the new Austria-based Buddhist organization.

(CNA)

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