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Master Sheng Yen

Sheng-yen (聖嚴; Pinyin: Shèngyán, birth name Zhang Baokang, 張寳康) (January 3, 1930 – February 3, 2009) was a Buddhist monk, a religious scholar, and one of the mainstream teachers of Chinese Chan (Japanese: Zen) Buddhism. He was the 57th generational descendant of Linji in the Linji (Japanese: Rinzai) School and a 3rd generational descendant of Master Hsu Yun. In the Caodong (Japanese: Soto) lineage, Sheng Yen was the 52nd generational descendant of Master Dongshan (807-869), and the direct descendant of Master Dongchu (1908-1977).

Sheng-yen was the founder of the Dharma Drum Mountain, a Buddhist organization based in Taiwan. During his time in Taiwan, Sheng Yen was well known as one of the progressive Buddhist teachers who sought to teach Buddhism in a modern and Western-influenced world.

In Taiwan, he was one of four prominent modern Buddhist masters, along with Masters Hsing Yun, Cheng Yen and Wei Chueh. In 2000 he was one of the keynote speakers in the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held in the United Nations.

Born near Shanghai in mainland China, he became a Buddhist monk at the age of 13. In order to escape religious persecution from the People's Republic of China, he went to Taiwan in 1949 by enlisting in a unit of the Nationalist Army out of necessity. He became a monk again in 1959 and from 1961 to 1968 he trained in solitary retreat in southern Taiwan. He then completed a master's degree (1971) and doctorate (1975) in Buddhist literature at Rissho University in Japan.

He became abbot of Nong Chan Monastery in Taiwan in 1979 and founder of the Institute of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Culture in New York City in 1980. In 1985, he founded the Institute of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Studies in Taipei and the International Cultural and Educational Foundation of Dharma Drum Mountain in 1989.

He taught in the United States starting in 1975, and established Chan Meditation Center in Queens, New York, and its retreat center outside New York. He established Dharma Drum Retreat Center at Pine Bush, New York in 1995. He also visited many countries in Europe, as well as continuing his teaching in several Asian countries, in particular Taiwan. In this way his work helped to bridge East and West and convey the Dharma to the West. He was known as a skillful teacher who helped many of his students to reach enlightenment mostly through meditation. Sheng-yen gave dharma transmission to several of his lay Western students, such as John Crook. Later on, John Crook, and several other Western disciples of Master Sheng-yen, such as Simon Child, Max Kalin, and Zarko Andricevic, formed the Western Chan Fellowship.

Sheng Yen's health was poor in the last couple years of his life, although he still gave lectures at several retreats in Taiwan. He declined a kidney transplant, stating that he did not expect to live for long, and he would rather save the chance for others who need it.

Sheng Yen died from renal failure on February 3, 2009, while returning from National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei. In accordance with East Asian age reckoning methods, the Dharma Drum Mountain organization states that Sheng Yen died at the age of 80. Officially, according to the Western way of reckoning age, Sheng Yen died at the age of 79.

Hours after his death, tributes from eminent Buddhist monks and Taiwanese politicians and celebrities, including President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Vincent Siew, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, kung fu star Jet Li, and actress Brigitte Lin, began to pour into Dharma Drum Mountain monastery. As stipulated in his will, Sheng Yen forbade the use of extravagant funeral services, including the construction of memorials or monuments. Sheng Yen received a simple Buddhist ritual attended by the President and dignitaries, and was buried in the Life Memorial Garden near the monastery. His ashes were divided into five sections, with each section filled by the Abbot, senior disciples, President Ma, Vice President Siew, and other laity.

Source : Wikipedia
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