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Master Sheng Yen



Master Sheng Yen was born in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China in 1930, and became a novice monk when he was thirteen. In 1949, he joined the Nationalist Army, which later retreated to Taiwan. After serving ten years in the military, he was finally discharged from the army and re-ordained.


Master Sheng Yen realized that “the Buddhadharma is so great, yet so many people misunderstand it, and so few people are willing to accept it.” He attributed this phenomenon to a lack of talent in spreading the Buddhadharma. Therefore, after a six-year solitary retreat, he further pursued his studies at Rissho University in Japan, and was awarded with a PhD in Literature in 1975. Subsequently, Master Sheng Yen was invited to the United States to spread the Dharma, where he served first as a board member and, subsequently, as Vice President of the Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS), Abbot of the Great Enlightenment Monastery, and director of the BAUS Institute of Tripitaka Translation.


 In 1979, Master Sheng Yen established the Chan Center in New York. Then, in 1989, Master Sheng Yen established the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education in Jinshan Township, Taipei County, which is the foundation on which to realize the Master’svision of “uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on Earth”. The first phase of the construction for the Center was completed in 2005.


Based on his profound experience of Chan practice, Master Sheng Yen offered guidance and direction on the concepts and methods of Chan meditation for practitioners from both the East and West, leading Seven-Day Meditation Retreats and Buddha-name Recitation Retreats across Asia, North America, and Europe. The Master was inclined   spread the Dharma using language and ideas that modern-day people can relate to. For this reason, the Master proposed a series of social movements, in the hopes of providing concepts and methods applicable in today’s life. These campaigns include Protecting the Spiritual Environment, Four Kinds of Environmentalism, the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign, and the Six Ethics of the Mind.


Master Sheng Yen passed away on February 3, 2009. His ashes and bones were buried in the Taipei County Jinshan Eco-friendly Memorial Garden. His unfinished wishes will be carried on by the Dharma Drum Mountain organization.