Brief History of Accomplishments and Honors attributed to
Master Sheng-yen's background is impressive to say
the least. He is the second generation
descendant of Ven. Master Hsu-yen, the patriarch of modern Ch'an
Buddhism in China. Master Sheng-yen became a monk in Kuang-Chiao Temple
Chiang Su China in 1944. He served as a monk in the military from
1949-1960. After his duty was completed, he resumed his life as a monk
and decided to push himself to the fullest ability of his mind and body.
He went into solitary retreat in the mountains of southern Taiwan from
1962-1968. After his years of solitude the Master began to lecture on
Buddhism. He went to the San-Do Temple in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1968 and
gave extensive lectures on Buddhist beliefs. He continued his efforts to
spread the Dharma and in 1975 he became the Dharma Transmission
recipient of the 50th generation descendant of the co-founder Master
Tung-Shen. He also received the Dharma transmission in the Ts'so Tung
(Soto) Sect of Ch'an Buddhism. Even his arrival in American in 1977 did
not stop his continuing efforts to study. He became the recipient of the
Lin-chi (Rinzai) sect of the 57th generation descendant of the Ch'an
Master Lin-Chi and Third generation descendant of Ch'an Master Hsu--Yun
(1840-1959), direct descendant of Ch'an Master Ling-Yuan (1902-1988) in
At this point the Master was doing a great deal of traveling from the United States to China, and
Taiwan. His energy levels seemed to have no limit. Between 1976-1977 he became the Vice
President of The Buddhist Association of the United States, New York. In that same time period
he became the Director of The Institute for the Translation of the Tripitaka in Taiwan, and The
Buddhist Association of the United States and Taiwan. Between the years of 1978-1987 he was
appointed Professor for The Chinese Culture University in Taiwan and also served as Director of
The Institute of Buddhist Studies Hwakang, Taiwan. In 1978 he was appointed as President, for
The Chinese Buddhist Culture Institute in Taipei, Taiwan. In 1979, he became the Abbot of
Nung-Ch'an Monastery in Taiwan, as well as founder and President of Ch'an Meditation Center,
Institute of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Culture, in New York in 1980.
His history of accomplishments did not stop there for in 1985 he founded and became President
of Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies in Taiwan. Between 1986-1988 he was Professor of
Su-Chou University in Taiwan. His biggest project to date is a project called Dharma Drum
Mountain which is a huge site in Taiwan for the study of Buddhism.
When the Master is not meditating, lecturing, or traveling around the world, he is writing. His
list of publications is impressive. It is hard to believe one man could do so much in one lifetime.
He is the founder of Tung-Ch'u Publishing House in Taipei, started in 1981. He was the founder
of Dharma Drum Publications, New York, 1982. He was also publisher of Hwakang Buddhist
Journal , 1980-1985, publisher of Humanit, a Monthly magazine out of Taipei, publisher and
founder of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal ,1987-, and publisher of Chan Magazine, a quarterly
printed in English in New York. He is the author of many books including:
Some of his English works are:
- The Buddhist Life and Religion , 1963.
- Buddhist Culture and Literature, 1963.
- The Buddhist Code of Conduct and Monastic Life, 1963.
- What is Buddhism, 1964.
- Stories of Buddhist Saints, 1967.
- An Outline of Chinese Buddhist History, 1972.
- From East to West, 1979.
- The experience of Chan, 1980.
- The Essentials of Practice and Attainments within the Ch'an Gate, 1980.
These are but a few of over fifty of his works,
a list too long to quote in this article.
- Getting the Buddha Mind, 1982.
- The Poetry of Enlightenment ,1987.
- Faith in Mind ,1987.
- Catching a Feather on a Fan, 1991.
- Zen Wisdom: Knowing and Doing, 1993.
The Master has over 3,000 students in the United States and 10,000 in Taiwan. Since 1976, he has
been giving seven day Ch'an retreats, four times every year in New York and two times a year in
Taiwan. He has lectured in just about every noted University in Taiwan, the National Normal
University, National Political University, The Yang-Ming College of Medicine, and National
Ch'eng-Keng University , to name a few. This list is only a few of more than twenty universities.
In the United States the list is also too long to mention in its entirety, but includes: Columbia
University, New York University, Hunter College, Manhattan College, St. Johns University, City
College, Rutgers University, Princeton University, Purdue University in Indiana, Yale University,
Hawaii University, and Ohio State University. The list goes on for over a total of over fifty
various colleges and universities, including locations in Canada, England, Central America, and
Today he continues in his travels and lectures, spreading his knowledge and the word of
Buddhism to all.