In foundation of the institute, it made use of Nanputuo Temple¡¯s halls to change into classrooms. Even if with poor and simple facilities, it brought a large number of Buddhist talents because of education and teaching reformation. More than ten year later, the educational facilities were double times of the previous one at the beginning of foundation. Furthermore, they tended to modernization.
After short time, the old buildings of Minnan Buddhist Institute were renovated. At the same time, the teaching building, the office building, Taixu Library and the dormitory building were newly built. And one dormitory building and one teaching building were added in Wanshiyan for female students.
The new buildings for Zizhulin School were built with a total area of 17,800 square meters in Baoshanyan in 1995, including the Main Hall, the teaching building, the library building, dormitory building, dining room, living room etc. The school was located in beautiful historic site Jinbang Mountain. There were craggy rocks standing behind and dense trees and flowers around, which brought peace and elegance.
Educational system and curriculum
During the earlier foundation, the educational system was two year and recruited male monks among the nation, and divided into general section and special section. Two-thirds of courses were Buddhist, which were taught by famous talented monks. The basic culture courses were coached by employed teachers and professors from Xiamen University.
In 1923, Master Taixu reformed the educational system into 3 years after he took over as dean. In addition to Buddhist theory, he increased language, mathematics, history, geography, philosophy, foreign language, art, gymnastics and other subjects. He made a special offer to invite Japanese Monk Shentian Huiyun to teach Japanese, and tried to cultivate talents who were able to promote Buddhism in Japan. For the Institute adopted a series of open teaching, so monk students¡¯ thought was rather active, which played an important role in innovation movement.
In 1934, with the care of Master Hongyi, Buddhist Studies Institute was opened on the basis of Minnan Buddhist Institute. The educational system was also 3 years. Most students were from Fujian Province with lower education level. According to Master Hongyi¡¯s intention, setting up Yangzheng institution was by no means to develop masters, but to foster monks who know Cause and Effect with moral thoughts and conduct, and pure insight. Therefore, the Buddhist education was always in priority in Studies Institute, and supplemented by literature and history.
Since reopening in 1985, the Institute was set up with male academy and female academy. Both male and female academies were separately established junior course, preparatory course, undergraduate course and postgraduate course. The students came from 21 provincial, municipal city and autonomous region (in China). The junior class was with 2-year educational system, enrolling monks and nuns who have received junior middle school education. The preparatory class was with 2-year educational system, enrolling monks and nuns who have received senior middle school education and acquired certain Buddhist knowledge. As long as the monks and nuns graduate from preparatory class, they would continue to study further in undergraduate class for 2 years. Some excellent undergraduate students would be chose for mainly engaging in special research of Buddhist scriptures and treatises. The time of postgraduate course was not compulsorily, but the monks may serve as teachers for junior or preparatory classes.
There was no uniform standard for compiling of teaching materials and arrangement of curriculum. Based on teaching program and teaching materials, they were arranged and filed according to the purpose and feature of Buddhist education. The curriculum was mainly divided into political and ideological course, social culture course and Buddhist theory course. Concerning the teaching time, political and ideological and social culture subjects occupied one-third of total while the last subject accounted for two-thirds.
In 1997, Grant Monk Shenghui took over as dean of the Institute. In order to meet the needs of contemporary Buddhism, he conducted a series of major reforms to the educational system and subjects. He changed enrollment in Spring to Autumn. The junior course and the preparatory course were combined into one. Its educational system was still two years, undergraduate course was increased to four years, and postgraduate course was changed to three years. In 2001, it was the first time that the Institute started training foreign Buddhist students In Chinese Buddhism.
In line with tradition and guideline of cultivating qualified monks, the courses were adhered to the thought of Eight Schools (Zen School, Pure Land School, Lotus Sutra School, Huayan Zong School, Dharma-character School, Vinaya School, Three-Treatise School and Mizong School) and given attention to Five Sciences (Logic, Language, Medicine, Art and Buddhism) in teaching. The purpose of policy and science courses was to foster patriotic and law-abiding citizens. The basic culture courses included modern literature, ancient Chinese language, Chinese- foreign history, Chinese- foreign philosophy, foreign language and calligraphy. The intention of Buddhist theory courses was to cultivate qualified talents who comprehensively understand and preach Buddhism. The policy and science and the basic culture courses cost 40% of total classes while the Buddhist theory courses cost 60%.
After continuous reformation, the educational system of the Institute was basically integrated with general university¡¯s standard.
Teachers and students
During earlier foundation, the Institute nationally enrolled the monks who are more than 18 years old and provided with the level of senior high school or equal certificate. Most students were from different provinces, like Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Hubei, Henan etc, of which Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces mostly. Due to local Fujian province monks had low level education and language obstacle with other outside students, Minnan Buddhist Institute almost had no students from Fujian province. When Master Hongyi knew this situation, he proposed add Yangzheng institution, employ masters from Fujian province and enroll local monks. The Yangzheng institution was reopened after war, and changed the name to Yangzheng primary school. As a charity, the pupils near to Nanputuo Temple were freely enrolled in Yangzheng primary school. Its name was changed to Dongao primary school when it was taken over to Government in 1952. In the early 1980s, the primary school was closed and Nanputuo Temple took back the school building and reestablished Buddhist Yangzheng Institution.
In 1985, Minnan Buddhist Institute not only recruited monks all around the nation but also admitted nuns for female division in Wanshiyan. In the meanwhile, Fujian female ascetic vegetarians were also enrolled in female division. In view of living difference between female ascetic vegetarians and nuns, it stopped recruiting female ascetic vegetarians, who transferred to study in Quanzhou Woman Buddhist Institution in 1997.
In 1997, Grant Monk Shenghui took over as dean and he formally established postgraduate class for excellent undergraduate students¡¯ further research. At the same time, the Institute accepted overseas students and firstly accepted four Vietnamese nuns at that time.
The teachers taught Buddhist courses and culture courses in separate. The Buddhist courses were mainly taught by well-known monks. In early foundation, it had Buddhist tutors Huiquan, Changxing, Huiting,Daru and Juesan. Since Master Taixu was the dean, he brought a group of young masters from Shanghai and Zhejiang, like Daxing, Zhifeng, Huijue,Huitong and Xiaoxi. They had extensive experience in Buddhist education and focused on Buddhism theory, of those who actively promote Buddhism reform. The culture courses were taught by famous professors and teachers from Xiamen University, such as Chen Dingmo, Ye Changqing, Ding Shan, Yu Yu, Xu Yongxian etc. And he especially invited Professor Monk Shentian Huiyun to teach Japanese. Even after reopening, the Institute still invited famous monks to be the tutors for Buddhism courses, like Miaozhan, Jianxing, Mengcan, Yuanzhi, Jiqun, Liaofa, Chengxin, vice dean Fang Xinglao and Shan Peigen from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. The culture courses were taught by the professors from Xiamen University, like Xu Guodong, Chen Jinchong, Zhang Biren, He Naichuan and so on.
In 1997, the Institute invited contemporary famous Buddhist masters and professors to give lessons of Buddhism, such as Fang Litian from Renmin University of China, Lou Yulie from Beijing University, Yang Zengwen and Fang Guangchang from Society Science Institute of China, Wang Leiquan from Shanghai Fudan University.