Western Chan Fellowship
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The Western Chan Fellowship (WCF) is an organisation of lay Buddhists. It was formed in 1997 and registered as a charity in 1998. It was based on a network of local groups which formed following the first teaching visit to the UK in 1989 of the Venerable Chan Master Dr Sheng-yen. Master Sheng-yen was Abbot of a monastery in Taiwan and Head of the Institutes of Chung Hwa Buddhist Culture in Taiwan and New York City.
Master Sheng-yen visited the UK four times, in 1989, 1992, 1995, and 2000, and passed on to the fellowship a view of the Dharma (teaching) based on his experience in both the main lineages of Chan - Linji (Rinzai) and Caodong (Sōtō).
In April 1989, Master Sheng-yen came to the Maenllwyd Retreat Centre in Mid Wales and Dr John Crook, who trained with him in New York City, acted as Guestmaster. At the end of the retreat Crook was asked to run orthodox Chan retreats in Britain as the representative of Master Sheng-yen. Crook was subsequently invited to function as teacher to the Bristol Chan Group, the first of the WCF local groups. In 1993 he received the Dharma transmission from Master Sheng-yen and was thus a fully authorised teacher in the same lineage. Thus, WCF is a group of lay practitioners with properly authenticated teachers.
Currently, the emphasis of WCF activity is on meditation retreats. Aside from that, it also publishes a journal, "New Chan Forum", two or three times a year, and engages in charity activities.
The Maenllwyd is the WCF's main retreat centre. It is a private house in Powys, Wales, formerly owned by John Crook.
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