The universe may one day perish, yet my vows are eternal
The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen let go of his physical body and left behind great compassion and great vows in this world
What I am unable to accomplish in this lifetime, I vow to push forward through countless future lives; What I am unable to accomplish personally, I pray for everyone to join forces to promote
Busy with nothing, growing old.
Within emptiness, weeping, laughing.
Intrinsically, there is no "I."
Life and death, thus cast aside. ~ Venerable Master Sheng Yen
The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, passed away at 4:00pm of the afternoon of 3 February, 2009, at the age of 80.
The Master has dedicated his whole life in promoting the idea of "uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth" through the manifestations of his own physical body and actions. The Sangha community and followers of Dharma Drum Mountain around the world will uphold and fulfill the Master's wishes so that great compassion and great vows will continue in this world.
The Most Venerable Master, who humbly called himself "a monk amidst the rain and snow", was voted as one of Taiwan's fifty most influential people in the last four hundred years. A review of the Master's life depicted a life of drifting from place to place, facing endless trials and dramatic turnarounds. As a child the Master was always sick and frail. After receiving monastic ordination in Wolf Hill, Jiangsu Province, China, and throughout the period of performing chanting rites for the deceased, serving in the military, studying in Japan for his PhD degree, propagating the Dharma in the United States of America, the founding and establishment of Dharma Drum Mountain, the Master always found a way out of all difficulties. In times of hardship we can witness his compassion, through his unswerving determination we can witness his wisdom through Chan practice. To the Master, life is a journey of practicing the Dharma.
In 2004, the Master, well aware of his poor health, made a will and instructed that after he passed away; instead of a traditional funeral ceremony, a Buddhist memorial rite should be held. It should be simple, solemn and economical, all flowers and wreaths are to be declined, just the chanting of "NAN MO A MI TUO FO" (Homage to Amitabha Buddha) so that we will all be joined in the Pure Land. Since he fell sick, the Master's attitude to life and death is not to wait for death, fear death or seek death. Instead he followed his vow "The universe may one day perish, yet my vows are eternal" and continued to lead everyone forward on the path of building a pure land on earth.
In September 2006, the Master handed over the position of Abbot President to his disciple Venerable Guo Dong, symbolizing the transmission of the Dharma Drum Mountain lineage from generation to generation. In regard to the issue of selecting the Abbot President, the Master had clearly stated that regardless of whether a bihikkshu or bhikshuni was elected from within Dharma Drum Mountain or engaged from outside, when the person takes up the position of Abbot President, he/she also receives the transmission of the Dharma Drum Mountain lineage and will not abandon the vision and direction of Dharma Drum Mountain.
Under the leadership of Abbot President, Venerable Guo Dong, the Sangha community and followers of Dharma Drum Mountain throughout the world will inherit the past and continue forward in carrying out the practice of "Four Insistence" - to insist upon the ideas of Dharma Drum Mountain, to insist upon the Three Types of Education, to insist upon the Four Kinds of Environmentalism and to insist upon the practice of orthodox Chinese Buddhism – to support the vision of Dharma Drum Mountain as they had done in the past and to jointly fulfill the will of the Master in the building of the Dharma Drum University.
In accordance with the Master's will, his ashes will be returned to the earth and buried in the Life Memorial Garden.
The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen once said, "Where there is life, there must be death. If one cannot face this reality it will become one’s greatest barrier in life, if one can regard death merely as a fraction within the eternal time and space then death is not an end to life but the beginning of the next."