|Other name(s)||Changjin (novice name)|
December 4, 1930|
|Died||February 3, 2009
|Teacher||Dongchu, Ling Yuan|
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Sheng Yen (聖嚴; Pinyin: Shèngyán, birth name Zhang Baokang, 張保康) (December 4, 1930 – February 3, 2009) was a Buddhist monk, a religious scholar, and one of the mainstream teachers of Chinese Chan Buddhism. He was a 57th generational Dharma heir of Linji Yixuan in the Linji school (Japanese: Rinzai) and a 3rd generational Dharma heir of Master Hsu Yun. In the Caodong (Japanese: Sōtō) lineage, Sheng Yen was a 52nd generational Dharma heir of Master Dongshan (807-869), and a direct Dharma heir 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 1978 and founder of the Institute of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Culture in New York City in 1979. 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, Dharma Drum Retreat Center at Pine Bush, New York in 1997. 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 who formed the Western Chan Fellowship, and several other Western disciples of Master Sheng Yen, such as Simon Child, Max Kalin, and Zarko Andricevic.
Sheng Yen's health was poor in the last couple years of his life, although he still gave lectures 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.
- Chi Chern
- Guo Dong
- Guo Yuan
- John Crook, PhD, DSC
- Simon Child
- Max Kalin
- Zarko Andricevic
- Guo Ru
- Guo Xing
- Guo Jun
- Guo Kuang
- Guo Yi
- Guo Zhao
- Gilbert Gutierrez
In the Chan lineage of Sheng Yen, a "Dharma heir" receives the Dharma transmission based on his or her selfless administrative contributions to Dharma Drum Mountain and practice of Chan. However, a Dharma heir may not have had a personal experience of self-nature, or Buddha-nature, the nature of emptiness, in which case the person would also receive yinke (Jp. Inka shōmei), the seal of approval. Among the Dharma heirs, there are only a few who have both Dharma transmission and yinke. Among Sheng Yen's senior disciples, there are also those who have received yinke but no Dharma transmission for various reasons.  among them is Guo Gu or Jimmy Yu, the longtime attendant, translator, and student of Sheng Yen, who passed away before he could transmit the Dharma to him.
In alphabetical order of the books' title:
- Sheng Yen, A Journey of Learning and Insight, Dharma Drum Publishing Corp, 2012. ISBN 978-957-598-580-6
- Sheng Yen, Attaining the Way: A Guide to the Practice of Chan Buddhism. Shambhala Publications, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59030-372-6.
- Sheng Yen, Complete Enlightenment - Zen Comments on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment. Shambhala Publications, 1998. ISBN 978-1-57062-400-1.
- Sheng Yen, Dharma Drum: The Life & Heart of Ch'an Practice. Shambhala Publications, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59030-396-2.
- Sheng Yen, Faith in Mind: A Guide to Chan Practice. Dharma Publishing, 1987. ISBN 978-0-9609854-2-5.
- Sheng Yen, Getting the Buddha Mind: On the Practice of Chan Retreat. North Atlantic Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1-55643-526-3.
- Sheng Yen and Dan Stevenson, Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path As Taught by a Modern Chinese Master. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-19-515248-4.
- Sheng Yen (ed. John Crook), Illuminating Silence: The Practice of Chinese Zen. Watkins, 2002. ISBN 1-84293-031-1.
- Sheng Yen, Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. Dharma Drum, 2007. ISBN 1-55643-657-2. Online text
- Sheng Yen, Ox-herding at Morgan's Bay. Dharma Drum, 1988. ISBN 0-9609854-3-3.
- Sheng Yen, Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel. Dharma Drum Publications, 2000. ASIN B001HPIU4K.
- Sheng Yen, Shattering the Great Doubt: The Chan Practice of Huatou. Shambhala, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59030-621-5.
- Sheng Yen, Song of Mind: Wisdom from the Zen Classic Xin Ming. Shambhala, 2004. ISBN 1-59030-140-4.
- Sheng Yen, Subtle Wisdom: Understanding Suffering, Cultivating Compassion Through Ch'an Buddhism. Image, 1999. ISBN 978-0-385-48045-1.
- Sheng Yen, The Infinite Mirror: Commentaries on Two Chan Classics. Shambala, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59030-398-6.
- Sheng Yen, The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination. Shambhala, 2008. ISBN 1-59030-575-2.
- Sheng Yen, The Poetry of Enlightenment: Poems by Ancient Chan Masters. Shambala, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59030-399-3.
- Sheng Yen, The Six Paramitas: Perfections of the Budhisattva path, a commentary. Dharma Drum, 2002. ASIN: B0006S8EYU.
- Sheng Yen, The Sword of Wisdom: A Commentary on the Song of Enlightenment. North Atlantic Books, 2002. ISBN 978-1-55643-428-0.
- Sheng Yen, There Is No Suffering: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra. Dharma Drum, 2002. ISBN 1-55643-385-9.
- Sheng Yen, Thing Pertaining to Bodhi: The Thirty-seven Aids to Enlightenment. Shambhala, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59030-790-8.
- Sheng Yen, Zen Wisdom. North Atlantic Books, 2002. ISBN 978-1-55643-386-3.
Autobiography of Master Sheng Yen:
- Sheng Yen, Footprints in the Snow: The Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk. Doubleday Religion, 2008. ISBN 978-0-385-51330-2.
- Dharma Drum Mountain
- Dharma Drum Retreat Center
- Nung Chan Monastery
- Western Chan Fellowship
- Timeline of Zen Buddhism in the United States
- "Chan Master Sheng Yen". Dharma Drum Mountain. 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Reviewing Master Sheng Yen's Talk: The Strength to be at Peace". Business Weekly Taiwan. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Chronology of Master Sheng Yen, ddm.org.tw
- Biography of Master Sheng Yen, ddm.org.tw
- Western Chan Fellowship
- "Announcement of Master Sheng Yen's death". Dharma Drum Mountain. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2009-02-05.[dead link]
- "The Will of Master Sheng Yen". Dharma Drum Mountain. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- http://www.ddm.org.tw/maze/190/page1.asp 交付傳持佛法的任務
- http://www.ddm.org.tw/maze/190/page1.asp 交付傳持佛法的任務
- Official website
- Biography[dead link] and Autobiography[dead link] of Chan Master Sheng Yen at the website of the Chan Meditation Center in New York
- Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pinebush, New York
- The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies
- Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan
- The Western Chan Fellowship (UK)
- Sheng Yen education foundation