Billionaire Bolsters Buddhist Studies at University of Toronto

August 26, 2006

Source: Toronto Star

On August 26, 2006 the Toronto Star reported, "Robert Hung-Ngai Ho has an ambitious plan to spread the seeds of Buddhism from the Far East to around the world. While the eastern religion commends frugality and abstinence from a life devoted to material things, it also teaches generosity and kindness — which is what the immigrant billionaire from Hong Kong tries to exemplify in his philanthropy. That includes this week's $4 million gift to the University of Toronto at Scarborough, the largest donation ever received by the satellite campus. Since 2000, Ho has donated millions of dollars to establish academic programs in Buddhism at universities in Hong Kong and Thailand in the name of Tung Lin Kok Yuen, a non-profit Buddhist group founded in 1935 by his late grandparents, who began the family fortune. Now, the retired Vancouver-based businessman and one-time journalist hopes to encourage academic Buddhist studies in his adopted homeland. This week's announcement at the Scarborough campus, which will bolster the U of T's existing Buddhist studies program, followed an identical donation in February to the University of British Columbia. 'Our vision would be to see Buddhism not just as a religion predominant in Asia but to be more widely known and better understood by the international community,' Ho told a luncheon held at the campus Wednesday in appreciation of Ho's generosity. 'Buddhism, like many of the other religions, has been an integral part of our global cultural development and will continue to grow in harmony with our society globally.' Born into a Buddhist family, Ho, 74, said he did not enjoy going to temples or Sunday religious school until he turned 40 and began seeking spiritual growth. After studying various religions, he felt Buddhism suited him best because of its principle of self-salvation."