Author Topic: Struck Like Lightning: the Life of Master Sheng Yen  (Read 1555 times)


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Struck Like Lightning: the Life of Master Sheng Yen
« on: January 31, 2010, 11:46:24 pm »
Visit Dharma Drum Mountain, a Buddhist monastery about an hour’s drive northeast of Taipei, and you’ll likely be taken to see a curious waxwork figure in a small museum in one of the buildings. The figure is of Chan Master Sheng Yen, the monastery’s founder, meditating in a small hut during a six-year solitary retreat in southern Taiwan.

The waxwork illustrates two apparently contradictory facts about Sheng Yen: his single-minded, sometimes lonely, dedication to Chan, an austere Zen practice of experiential wisdom that eschews fame and wealth; and his immense renown in Taiwan, where he helped spark a renaissance of Buddhist practice.

When Sheng Yen died of renal failure at the age of 79 in February 2009, Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou and mainland China Religious Affairs Minister Ye Xiaowen both attended his funeral. Kung fu movie star Jet Li and well-known Taiwanese actress Brigitte Lin issued public statements, while as many as one million followers, mostly ethnic Chinese, mourned around the world. Today, when you ask almost any adult in Taiwan about Sheng Yen, the result is likely to be a story about his good works in areas such as typhoon relief or suicide prevention.

Not that this self-deprecating monk sought fame for its own sake. Beginning in 1976, he spent three out of every six months in the United States, a country where he was not widely known outside his circle of Chinese disciples and a small number of American students. At his small temple in Queens, a borough of New York City, and at a meditation center in upstate New York, he led smaller groups in the same rigorous Zen retreats that attracted hundreds of practitioners in Taiwan.

Ven. Guo Dong, who holds the title of Dharma Drum Mountain abbot president, recalls Sheng Yen saying, “it doesn’t matter whether I, Sheng Yen, become an accomplished practitioner, or if the name Sheng Yen will remain a household name for years to come. Individual achievement in itself does not perpetuate Buddhadharma [Buddhist principles].”

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Offline heybai

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Re: Struck Like Lightning: the Life of Master Sheng Yen
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 07:46:53 pm »
No Escape for the Ego

An interview with Venerable Master Sheng-yen
by Carter Phipps

Offline moonbeam

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Re: Struck Like Lightning: the Life of Master Sheng Yen
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2011, 06:14:51 pm »
I went to visit the Dharma Drum Retreat Center in New York last week and I picked this booklet with him talking with Jet Li about ignorance. If you ever have a chance to read it, go ahead and do it. It's short, and simple but helpful.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Struck Like Lightning: the Life of Master Sheng Yen
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 02:46:14 am »
Ven. Sheng Yen's story of enlightenment at the lighthouse is very inspiring, if you need to be inspired.  He has also written some very fine essays about sudden and gradual enlightenment, which i think are available on DDM's website.  Zen practitioners that draw distinctions between these as "different" kinds or paths of/to enlightenment should read them (as well as Bodhidharma's intro to practice).


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