Share Your Stories


Venerable Master Sheng Yen meets Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee

One must seek progress in the ordinary and display luster amidst adversity; One must seek advancement in a state of harmony and see hope amid hard work; One must seek abundance in the midst of stability and demonstrate serenity in training; One must seek wisdom amidst silence and show compassion in action.

On 15 August 1982, Humanity monthly magazine resumed its publication. In conjunction, the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen, the publisher of the magazine then, presented the above four verses of encouragement. It was also a gift to all readers as a form of mutual encouragement. This encouragement drifted abroad to the United States and incidentally came to the vision of the internationally renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee. He gazed at the verses in appreciation and immediately noted them down.

Unexpected connection in the relief of Sichuan Earthquake

From then on, Dr. Henry Lee has frequently shared the Master’s four verses with friends around the world, sometimes to advise youths brimming with vigor, and sometimes to encourage victims who have survived recent disasters to persevere. The last time Dr. Lee quoted these four verses was during early October this year where he encouraged students from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music to always have strong faith regardless of the phase of life and not to easily withdraw into themselves but rather to press forward in the face of adversity.

In the morning of 29 November 2008, Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education in Jinshan Township of Taipei County welcomed this distinguished, world-respected guest. Dr. and Mrs Henry Lee paid their first visit to the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen at Dharma Drum Mountain and Dr. Lee brought many newspapers reports on how he utilized Master's words of wisdom over the years as a gift to the Master. The Master received them with gratitude and commented with regards to Dr. Lee's speech delivered in Sichuan, "I feel much honored to see from this record that we are in the same line in regards to the relief work of Sichuan Earthquake."

Dr. and Mrs Lee were accompanied by their friend, an architect, Mr. Lungjia Yeh and his wife Ms. Xiuxia Tsai to meet the Venerable Master Sheng Yen in the presence of the Abbot President, Venerable Guo Dong and Deputy Abbot, Venerable Guo Pin. The moment Dr Lee and Venerable Sheng Yen met, both expressed that they felt much honored to meet one another and spoke about their common origin of Nantong Township of Jiangsu Province in China.

This is the wonder of causes and conditions. Despite the fact that the Master and Dr. Lee have long admired each other and both are fellow villagers of Nantong in Jiangsu Province, China, meeting up was by no means easy. In the past when the Master visited Nantong, or when Dr Lee gave lectures in their hometown, the people of Nantong often asked, "Do you know you have a remarkable fellow villager?" Even in the United States, some of the Master's disciples have tried arranging for the two to meet or conduct a dialogue, but the causes and conditions just did not ripen. This time, Dr. Lee was invited to deliver speeches at campuses in Taiwan and had a tight schedule. It was when his friend, Mr. Lungjia Yeh suddenly suggested, "Let's go to visit the Master!" that Dr, Lee agreed at once and postponed the original schedule so that the morning of 29 November was fully allocated to Dharma Drum Mountain.

Making the impossible possible

Dr. Lee's first impression about DDM was being deeply touched. He said that this place 'made the impossible possible.' "In my life, I only do one thing, that is to make the impossible possible. When I was young, I started as a policeman. For a policeman to do a Doctoral degree is to turn the impossible possible. Just like you, Master. You are a Buddhist monk. For a Buddhist monk to do a Doctoral degree, it was also making the impossible possible. Dharma Drum Mountain propagating Buddhism to the world is also turning the impossible possible." Master Sheng Yen agreed with Dr Lee's opinion and added that, "Turning the impossible possible lies in one word – the 'mind'.

"If you have the heart and dedicate yourself whole-heartedly, causes and conditions will gradually ripen. If you are half-hearted, nothing will be done successfully." He took the construction of DDM as an example. From a desolate mountain twenty years ago to a garden-style Dharma practice center now, although the process was not favorable to many people, DDM has still been established and has received approval from many people. A Dharma practice center of such a garden-style is rarely found in Taiwan. It is also an innovative move.

Both receiving "ordination" at Wolf Hill

Already it was due to wonderful causes and conditions that two of them finally met. However, as they chatted, the topic of the conversation led to Wolf Hill and a sudden twist of events caused the Master to exclaim, "We received 'ordination' at the same hill!"

Originally, Dr. Lee had another name called "Jie Chen", given with the advice of a high Buddhist monk after he was born. He said that according to his mother, he would not stop crying loudly and showed no sign of stopping soon after he was born, so much that he had to be referred to a doctor. Even the doctor was at a loss. "Later, a Buddhist monk came to my house and claimed he was here to find his master. My father told him that there was no monk in the house and the master he was searching for was not there. The monk pressed on by asking my father, 'Is there a newborn boy at your house?' Finally, the moment he saw me he prostrated to me." Dr. Lee said he heard this story from the mother, but he remained dubious about its truth.

In 1983, Dr. Lee returned to China for the first time and made a special 'investigation' regarding the truth of this event. He scaled Wolf Hill which is the highest hill in Nantong. The scenery was beautiful, but he could not find a Venerable by the name of “Jie Chen” from the documents in the monastery because many had been destroyed after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

As soon as the Master heard of Wolf Hill, he especially confirmed with Dr, Lee whether he referred to the Wolf Hill which was one of the five hills in Nantong Township. "There are five hills in Nantong: Wolf Hill, Maan Hill, Jian Hill, Jun Hill and Huangni Hill. Wolf Hill is the highest, the most famous and most beautiful. Is that the Wolf Hill you meant?" Dr. Lee affirmed loudly. "Then we received 'ordination' at the same hill!" Upon hearing the Master's comment, everyone burst into laughter and felt amazed at the same time.

Scheduling the Master for a Dialogue

Dr. Lee is seventy years old this year and the Master is nearing eighty. Dr. Lee analyzed the age of human beings and divided it into six levels, namely, actual age, psychological age, wisdom age, physical age, physiological age and experiential age. According to Dr. Lee's speculation, the Master's wisdom age is up to three hundred years old, whereas his psychological age is only twenty which is very young. "I am almost catching up with Master's age!" But which age is Dr Lee hoping to catch up to?

At the round table during lunch, the accompanying Abbot President touched on the topic of Dharma Drum University which is currently under construction. Four different colleges of Art, Environment, Charity, and Life have been mapped out and Dr. Lee suggested the possibility of inserting "Prevention of Crime Which is Spiritual Reformation" into the curriculum. He believed that the counseling provided by the police to criminals is very limited. It is only through the prevention of crime which begins with spiritual reformation that the real prevention of crime can be achieved. Master Sheng Yen immediately instructed the Abbot President to forward this proposal to be included to the overall curriculum of Dharma Drum University.

After this rare meeting, the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen and Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee agreed that the next time Dr. Lee returns to Taiwan, they will both follow the wishes of the people and convene a public dialogue.

(tranlsated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing team)

Back to list

Your are here : Share Your Stories > Venerable Master Sheng Yen meets Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee