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Biography of Venerable Master Sheng-yen

Master Sheng-yen, born on a farm outside Shanghai in 1931, became a monk at the age of thirteen. In 1949, during the Communist takeover, he moved to Taiwan to continue his study and practice. In 1958 at the age of 28 during an intense dialogue with Ch'an Master Ling-yuan, he shattered the "great doubt," which had been welling up insideof him gradually for the past 10 years, and reached enlightenment. In 1961 at the age of 30, Master Sheng-yen went into an intense six-year solitary retreat in the mountains. After the retreat, Master Sheng-yen saw the need to educate both monastic and lay Buddhists through modern Buddhist education. Since he felt that there was no one in Taiwan to undertake this endeavor, he went abroad and earned his master's degree and doctorate in Buddhist literature from Rissho University. In 1985, he founded the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies.

In 1975 Master Sheng-yen received transmission from Ch'an Master Tung-chu of the Ts'ao-tung Ch'an. In 1978, he received transmission from Ch'an Master Ling-yuan of the Lin-chi Ch'an, becoming the second generation descendant of Ch'an Master Hsu-yun -- the greatest contemporary patriarch and reviver of Ch'an Buddhism.

Master Sheng-yen is currently the abbot of Nung Ch'an Monastery, the founder of the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies and the International Foundation of Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan , as well as the Ch'an Meditation Center in New York. Master Sheng-yen now travels between United and Taiwan annually giving teachings and lectures in universities and centers throughout the world.


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