Venerable Guo Dong, Abbot President of Dharma Drum Mountain
Abbot President Ven. Guo Dong was ordained under Venerable Master Sheng Yen in 1993. He has served as Venerable Master Sheng Yen's personal attendant, as guiding Dharma teacher of both the End-of-Life Chanting Group and the General Association of Dharma Upholders, as supervisor of the Caring Service Department, and as deputy provost of the Monks' Department of the Sangha. He was among the Master's Dharma heirs at the Dharma Transmission Ceremony in 2005. In September 2006, he became DDM's second abbot president . In 2007, he succeeded as president of Dharma Drum Sangha University.
Before his ordination Ven. Guo Dong had long been searching for the meaning and value of life. Once, he participated in a seven-day Chan retreat guided by Venerable Master Sheng Yen, where he heard the Master say in his Dharma talk that "the Bodhi Mind means giving of oneself to serve others, performing meaningful things," he suddenly found the answer and a focus point in life. He then decided to live a monastic life, and vowed to devote his life to the Three Jewels and all sentient beings.
Ever since he joined the Sangha Ven. Guo Dong has been held in high regard by Venerable Master Sheng Yen, and has been entrusted with the work of caring for the followers. During his leadership at both DDM End-of-Life Chanting Group and General Association of Dharma Upholders in particular, he upheld the ideals of the "Four Kinds of Environmentalism", as advocated by the Master, namely "Protecting the Spiritual Environment, Social Environment, Living Environment, and Natural Environment". He also was successful in promoting pure, simple, and solemn funeral ceremonies in line with Buddhism, thereby significantly altering the conventional concepts of funeral and burial practices in Taiwan. Following on several natural disasters the Venerable was often the first to lead relief workers or the Chanting Group to the stricken areas, to comfort the victims, to conduct funerary rites, and offer emergency relief on behalf of DDM.
In addition to his ceaseless care activities, the Venerable has traveled widely both at home and to many countries worldwide to spread the Buddhadharma, participating in major seminars, giving speeches at universities and delivering care to communities, where his witty words of wisdom abound through simple, humorous, and vivid language. He continues his dedication to spreading the social practices proposed by Venerable Master Sheng Yen, including the "Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance" and the "Six Ethics of the Mind", as well as promoting the "Three Types of Education"─education through academics, public outreach, and caring─so as to achieve the vision of "uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth".
At his inauguration as abbot president, Ven. Guo Dong took the inaugural oath to "realize Venerable Master Sheng Yen's ideals, spirit, guidelines, and approaches in founding DDM; give of the self for the benefit of all; and regard continuing, spreading, and enabling the perpetual existence of Chinese Chan Buddhism as his mission." This reflects the Venerable's aim and duty to lead the DDM Sangha community and cultivate monastic talent, moving toward the future.