Sharing Master Sheng Yen's Chronicle:

Seeing All Sentient Beings in One Single Person

At 2 p.m. on October 29, DDM’s Zaiming Monastery City Branch organized a meeting to introduce the Master Sheng Yen's Chronicle. The guest speakers included Ven. Guo Xian, director of DDM Cultural Center, and Lin Qixian, an associate professor at National Pingdong University and author and editor of the book. Along with over 170 participants, they together used the opportunity to remember the Master’s teachings, thoughts, words of wisdom and actions of compassion.

The Chronicle was published by Dharma Drum Cultural Center in February, 2016. When talking about its editing, Ven. Guo Xian shared that the publication of the updated Chronicle, an extended version based on the Master Sheng Yen's Chronicle up to the Age of 70, not only represents the Master’s intention, but also the joint wish of DDM’s monastic and lay practitioners to review the history of its establishment.

The venerable played the participants a video Dharma talk by Master Sheng Yen recorded in 1999 on the eve of the release of Master Sheng Yen's Chronicle till age 70. In the video, the Master addressed the full-time staff of DDM by saying, “This Chronicle allowed me to re-examine myself. Lin has recorded in detail a lot of stories in the past, some of which I have even forgotten. His account of events is accurate. From the Chronicle I see the devotion of many devotees and practitioners. I can recall their faces and expressions, as well as their wisdom dedication. For more than a dozen years, I’ve truly felt that my own knowledge and abilities are limited, while the support and contribution of our supporters are indeed infinitive.”

Lin also introduced the historical background for the modernization of Buddhism and the process of its development. He pointed out that in the early 20th century Buddhism in China was adversely impacted by the movement to use traditional temples as places of study. At the time, Master Taixu advocated “Humanistic Buddhism” as an antidote and his vision was passed down to Ven. Dongchu and Ven. Yinshun. As part of this wave of change, Master Sheng Yen also developed a contemporary perspective on Buddhism and dedicated his life to renewing the sangha educational system, promoting Chan practice, and popularizing the Buddhist teaching. He enhanced academic Buddhist studies, and sought to transform the ritualized aspects of Buddhism into real Buddhist practice. He made the Buddhist study once exclusively for the privileged few accessible to the general public.

The two speakers also shared how they approached the Chronicle. Ven. Guoxian suggested readers start from the time when they first met the Master, to refresh the memory of their past experiences with him. While Lin recommended participants to begin with the parts they find most relevant, enjoyable, and inspirational, or simply enjoy the photos, refer to the table of contents, appendices, and the texts of in the timeline.”

Towards the end of the meeting, participants all showed their enthusiasm to help share the joy of reading the Chronicle with others. The host, Zhang Shengshi said, “I’ve never met Master Sheng Yen, but reading the Chronicle certainly made me realize that he had always sought to benefit people. I want to share this wonderful gift of the Dharma with others too.” Song Yanjian, a participant, expressed, “I hope I can be ‘busy with nothing, growing old,’ just like Master Sheng Yen, by doing more beneficial things for others.”

With the publication of the updated Chronicle, a record of Master Sheng Yen’s insight and exemplary actions, both speakers encouraged participants to find inspiration from it and identify personal 108 adages of wisdom, as a way to write their own chronicles on practice by applying wisdom in their lives, while making an effort to introduce the wonder Dharma to more people.

Texts: Jiang, Xin-Yi (江欣怡)
Photos: Sun, Bao-Li (孫寶莉), Huang, Zhang-Shou(黃張壽), Huang, Rui-Yun(黃瑞雲)
Translation: Chang, Cheng-Yu (張振郁)
Editor: Agnes Chan (Canada), DDM Editorial Team

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