Prominent Buddhist Teachers
I enjoy drawing and here is my new project — the drawing of prominent Buddhist teachers of our time. I started this project with Venerable Master Hsing Yun because I attended several major Dharma services and teachings held by the Master at Hsi-Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County, California. I would like to thank Master Hsing Yun whose wisdom is my inspiration on the spiritual path.
The main sources of information of other Buddhist teachers were from various issues of the SHAMBHALA SUN magazine. In January of 2009, the SHAMBHALA SUN celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. This publication has been a blessing to Buddhism in the West.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun (1927 – )
Venerable Master Hsing Yun is the founder of the Fo Guang Shan (or Buddha’s Light Mountain) in Da-shu(or Giant Tree) District of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan and its more than 200 branch temples worldwide. The Fo Guang Shan was founded in 1967 encompassing over 600 acres and is the largest Buddhist Order in Taiwan. Fo Guang Shan is the home for its branch temples around the world, and it consists of Fo Guang Shan Temple (or Buddha’s Light Temple), monastery, Buddhist college, library, museum and more. (http://www.fgs.org.tw)
Hsi-Lai Temple (or Coming West Temple) located in Hacienda Heights of Los Angeles County is one of the branch temples of the Fo Guang Shan. Hsi-Lai Temple was completed in 1988 and its cost was more than 30 million US dollars. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the Western Hemisphere. (www.hsilai.org)
Master Hsing Yun (“Star Cloud”) , the 48th Patriarch of the Linji Chan School (Japanese Rinzai) of Chinese Chan Buddhism and the founder of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order,is one of the most influential Buddhist leaders of our time. No other Chinese monk has expanded his work to the world in the way that the Master has been able to accomplish. Today, the Master continues to steer Buddhism along the passage of modernization via education, cultural activities, charity and religious practices, and building temples on each of the five Continents.
It’s the ideal of Master Hsing Yun to propagate Humanistic Buddhism and to build a pure land on earth. He has written many books and dedicated his life to teaching Humanistic Buddhism, which seeks to realize spiritual cultivation in everyday living. Master Hsing Yun travels all over the world giving lectures. Wherever he goes, the master encourages people to unite both the local and global communities into a world of equality, joyfulness, harmony, and peace.
There are more than 1,500 monks and nuns serving the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order, which is a Mahayana Chinese Buddhist monastic order. The Fo Guang shan Buddhist Order also oversees sixteen Buddhist colleges and four universities, one of which is the University of the West in Rosemead, California. The branch temples of Fo Guang Shan around the world are like the continuously turning Dharma wheel, propagating the Dharma day and night.
Giving help, giving confidence, giving hope, and giving joy are the objectives of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order. They also actively promote The Three Acts of Goodness, which are to do good deeds, say good words and think good thoughts.
Master Hsing Yun says:
“May compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and equanimity pervade the universe!
May all beings benefit from our blessings and friendship!
May our ethical practice of Chan and Pure land help us achieve universal tolerance!
May we undertake the great Mahayana vows in humility and gratitude!”
(Spring Liao, 10/3/09)
For decades, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has been planning to establish a center that would perpetually propagate Buddhist culture and art. Due to the auspicious inheritance of the Buddha’s tooth relic, Venerable Master Hsing Yun started building plans for the Buddha Memorial Center located adjoining Fo Guang Shan. After more than 10 years of planning and construction, the beautiful Buddha Memorial Center has been completed. An auspicious grand opening ceremony was held on December 25, 2011.
The Buddha Memorial Center encompasses approximately 100 hectares (about 247 acres) and includes the Central Complex, the Memorial Plaza, and Vulture Park. The Central Complex houses both the main exhibition area and the Buddha Tooth Relic Shrine. It is surrounded by four Indian style stupas that symbolize the Four Noble Truths. In front of the Central complex stand eight Chinese style pagodas, which singify the Noble Eightfold Path. On Vulture Park, a majestic Fo Guang Buddha statue measures 48 meters (about 158 feet) in height and reflects the Buddha’s greatness and benevolence. The Memorial Plaza can accommodate more than ten thousands people. The beautiful Buddha Memorial Center will enable people from all walks of life to deeply appreciate the profound spiritual nature of Buddhist education, culture and art. (Source: http://www.fgs.org.tw/BMC/) (12/26/2011)
Pema Chodron (1937 – )
Pema Chodron is one of the most influential voices in contemporary spirituality. Her books are passed from friend to friend, and her life has taken her from a Connecticut prep school to a monastery on the wild coast of Nova Scotia.
In an effort to cope with her loss from the divorce, Pema explored different therapies and spiritual tradition. Then, she met several Buddhist teachers who changed her life. She decided not to get involved in another relationship. She felt that she needed to pull her energy totally into it. In 1981, Pema became the first American in the Mahayana tradition to undergo bhiksuni ordination — a fully ordained nun.
Pema‘s first book, THE WISDOM OF NO ESCAPE, was published in 1991, followed by START WHERE YOU ARE in 1994, and WHEN THINGS FALL APART in 1997. Readers were moved by her earthy and insightful teachings. She was constantly being asked to give talks and to take part in media events. Recently, Pema has taken a full schedule of teaching and leading retreat at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. Pema said:
“In the difficulties of your life, you will discover your natural love and warmth. The natural warmth that emerges when we experience pain includes all the heart qualities: love, compassion, gratitude, tenderness in any form. It also includes loneliness, sorrow, and the shakiness of fear.”
“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lost something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. …. And, we finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.”
“Everything we seek was like shifting, impermanent clouds, yet behind that the mind was workable. The underlying state of openness of mind has never gone away. It has never been marred by all the ugliness and craziness we’re seeing.”
“The meditation practice will keep you from ever feeling alone again, and this moment is the perfect teacher.”
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, and for joy.”
(Spring Liao, 10/4/09)
Sylvia Boorstein (1936 – )
“Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind” — it was these words that inspired Sylvia Boorstein to follow the Buddhist path. Sylvia is a co-founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. And, she has written four popular books that deliver traditional Buddhist teachings. In the meditation center of Spirit Rock, Sylvia has taught a weekly meditation class for the past 15 years. She also regularly leads retreats by herself and in collaboration with other teachers from a variety of traditions. Sylvia said:
“Life is hard for everyone. Grief can seem interminable, but peace is still possible.”
“The Buddha says that everything that is dear to us causes pain. It doesn’t mean not to have things dear to you. It just means that in this life of change, we will lose everything that’s dear to us. Everything will change. The only adequate response is to love fully and realize we have a precious short life.”
“Buddhism tells us that inspite of all the circumstances we face, we could have a steadfast love for all beings. We can develop a love that is steadfast and universal.”
“The teaching that everything dear to us causes pain has helped me to be more clear that I’m eager to use relationship as a practice. It helps me remember not to mortgage away any of my days by having a grudge or a grievance or making myself distant. That would simply cause a rupture in that steadfast, universal love that is so joyful.”
The theme of Sylvia‘s new book, HAPPINESS IS AN INSIDE JOB: Buddhist Teaching for a Modern Life, is that the key to suffering less is maintaining warm bonds of emotional connection with others, which can restore the mind to its natural state of clarity and insight, particularly in tough times. Heaven can be right here on earth, when we live with friendliness, compassion, joy and equanimity.
Helping others face the realities of old age, sickness, and death has become Sylvia‘s vocation. The challenges of her life, from a rough childhood to a postpartum depression, helped Sylvia become such a beloved teacher and an example of Buddhist virtues.
(Spring Liao, 10/5/09)
Kyozan Joshu Sasaki (1907 – )
Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi (Note 1) is a Japanese Rinzai Zen (Note 2) teacher who has lived in the USA since 1962. Sasaki Roshi is the founder and the head abbot of the Mount Baldy Zen Center in California, and of the Rinzai-Ji Order of affiliated Zen Centers. At the age of 102, he is still actively teaching the traditional Zen Buddhism.
In the 1960s, a wave of religious leaders came from Asian countries to the West. Sanghas and sitting groups sprouted all over the American and European Continents. Sasaki Roshi is one of those dharma pioneers who cultivated the American soil and sowed the seed of Zen. The seed took root.
Sasaki Roshi regularly offers formal training sessions at both the Mount Baldy Zen Center and the Bodhi Manda Zen Center, occasionally offering intensive meditation class at the Rinzai-Ji Zen Center in Los Angeles, California, and Haku-un-ji Zen Center in Tempe, Arizona.
One of Sasaki Roshi’s best known students is Leonard Cohen, who is a famed Canadian poet, singer, songwriter, and Buddhist monk. More than forty years of study with Sasaki Roshi have brought him clarity and peace, the perfect reflection of his years of Zen.
Sasaki Roshi is at the top of Japanese Zen Buddhism, and has been one of the most influential teacher of Zen students in the USA. One of his students said: “My teacher has become a precious golden Buddha.” Sasaki Roshi said:
“Life is love and the activity of love. If one always manifests activity of love, the world would become peaceful.”
“True wisdom is not an activity of mind. When we manifest true wisdom, we have peaceful mind. All of us reach a point where we don’t have to have the activity of mind.”
“Buddhism is the teaching of Karma. Karmic activity is not one, but two opposing activities that are creating this world we live in, as well as ourselves in this world.”
“At times, the two opposing activities appear in unified form, but the state of unification is not fixed, and at once breaks into plus and minus. Plus is self-affirming activity and minus is self-negative activity. When separated, the distance between is the beginning of “I am self…”
1. Roshi is a Japanese honorific title used in Zen Buddhism that literally means “old teacher” or “elder master” who gives spiritual guidance to Zen sanghas.
2. The Rinzai Zen School is one of the three Japanese Zen Sects. Rinzai is the Japanese line of Chinese Linji Chan Buddhism, which was founded during Chinese Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907).
(Spring Liao, 10/11/09)
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 – )
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar and human rights activist. Thay, as he is commonly called by his students, which means “teacher,” is one of the best known and most respected BuddhistMasters in the world today.
In the midst of the Vietnam War, the young Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh founded the Order of Interbeing and formed a group of committed practitioners who saw the Buddhist teachings as a truth that required them to be “lotuses in a sea of fire.” He gave birth to Engaged Buddhism. In 1966, at the age of forty, Thich Nhat Hanhexiled from his beloved Vietnam. During his four decades of exile, Thay did not rest. He traveled throughout the world, offering his message of reconciliation and peace. He rose to worldwide prominence as a Buddhist teacher.
Thich Nhat Hanh as been a professor at Columbia University in New York and the Sorbonne in Paris, and was the founder of Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon. In 1967, he was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the author of more than one hundred books. He lives in Plum Village, which is his meditation center in Southwest France, and he travels worldwide giving public talk and leading retreats on the art of mindful living.
In proposing radical new solutions to current conflicts, he encourages each of us to work on our own mindfulness practice to create greater peace and harmony. He also encourages mindful consumption, which is the way to heal us and to heal the world. As a spiritual family and a human family, we can all help avert global warming by followign this paractice. Thich Nhat Hanh said:
“Deep looking is meditation, and deep acting is also meditation.”
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. with each step, a flower blooms.”
“With this empty heart, empty of all illusion, comes compassion, comes courage, comes joy, comes wisdom, and comes true love.”
“We have the inherent capacity to recognize what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true.”
“Understanding and love are interdependent. Love is made of understanding, and understanding is made of love.”
“The secret of meditation is to be conscious of each second of your existence and to keep the sun of awareness continually shining.”
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion.”
“Mindfulness can liberate us from fear and allows us to be truly happy.”
“Every step we make has the power to heal and transform.”
“Each human being has the capacity to transform their individual suffering, develop compassion, and help create peace in the world.”
“Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
“When you practice mindful breathing, you become truly present. If you are here, life is here also.”
“Everything penetrates everything else. To bring relief to one person, is to bring relief to everyone, including ourselves.”
“When we know how to listen deeply and how to breathe deeply in mindfulness, everything becomes clear and deep.”
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air as a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.”
“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.”
“You touch one thing deeply, and everything is there.”
“To reduce suffering means to reduce the amount of ignorance, the basic affliction within us.”
“Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step.”
“The world of peace and joy is at our fingertips. We only need to touch it.”
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindful embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
“When you have peace within, real peace with others will be possible.”
“Real peace is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep inner peace.”
“Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and to prevent war.”
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”
In his new book, Beyond the Self — Teachings on the Middle Way, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we find equanimity by making peace with the moment that exists, instead of focusing on what we like and dislike around us. When we embrace the difficulties as well as the pleasures as essential elements of life, we will be on a path towards a more peaceful and joy-filled existence.
During his interview by the “Shambhala Sun” Magazine, Thich Nhat Hanh said:
“To have some suffering is very important. You learn from suffering, and against that background, you can recognize happiness. Pleasure-seeking is dangerous and avoid suffering is not wise, because suffering has its own goodness. When you have mindfulness, when you have enough courage to go back to yourself and embrace the suffering in you, you learn a lot. By doing so, you transform your suffering. So, it is good to experience some suffering, because when you suffer you develop compassion and understanding.”
(Spring Liao, 10/13/09)
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (1975 – )
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (Note 1) is one of the most celebrated among the new generation of Tibetan Buddhsit teachers. Hecomes from an extraordinary family. His father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920 – 1996) was renowned as one of the great Tibetan Buddhist Masters of the twentieth century. Mingyur Rinpoche teaches actively in the west and is known for his remarkable ability to convey the Buddhist teachings in a clear and skillful manner.
One of Mingyur Rinpoche’s current project is the building of Tergar Institute in Bodhgaya, India, which will serve large numbers of people attending Buddhist events at this sacred pilgrimage site. The institute will also have a medical clinic for local people. He has written “The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness,” and “Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom,” and an illustrated children’s book entitled: “Ziji: The Puppy That Learned to Meditate.”
In his new book, “Joyful Wisdom,” Mingyur Rinpoche addresses the timely and timeless problem of anxiety and teaches us how to overcome the problems of everyday life and experience a profound sense of well-being. He shows us how to discover the joy and awareness that are never affected by life’s ups and downs. The following are taken from “Joyful Wisdom.”
“Buddhism is often referred to as the “Middle Way” because it offers a third option.”
“Buddha-nature is the heart or essence inherent in all living beings: an unlimited potential to do, see, hear, or experience anything. Because of buddha-nature we can learn, we can grow, we can change. And, we can become buddhas in our own right.”
“The three aspects of buddha-nature are the wisdom to see the depth and breadth of a difficult situation; the capacity to choose how to interpret and act on what we see; and the spontaneous attitude of loving-kindness and compassion.”
“The three aspects of buddha-nature can be summed up in a single word: courage. Especially the courage to be, just as we are, right here, right now, with all our doubts and uncertainties.”
“Once you commit yourself to developing an awareness of your buddha-nature, you will start to see changes in your day-to-day experiences. You will become intuitively wiser, more relaxed, and more openhearted. You will begin to recognize obstacles as opportunities for further growth. You will discover deep within yourself the true nature of who and what you are. Best of all, as you start to see your own potential, you will also begin to recognize it in everyone around you.”
“Wisdom and compassion actually develop at the same pace. The more attentive you become, the easier you will find it to be compassionate. And the more you open your heart to others, the wiser and more attentive you become in all your activities.”
“When you enter the path of Buddhist practice, you are ending an abusive relationship with yourself. When you choose to recognize your true potential, your opinion of yourself becomes more positive and wholesome, and your sense of confidence and sheer joy at being alive increases.”
“By facing our disturbing emotions and the problems that occur in our lives, we discover an experience of well-being that extends outward as well as inward.”
“Whenever you look at your mind, you can’t help but recognize your similarity to those around you. This is wisdom — in awakening of the heart, the recognition of your connection to others, and the road to joy.”
1. Rinpoche is a Tibetan honorary title that means “precious teacher.”
(Spring Liao, 10/16/09)
Knock on the sky and then listen to the sound.
One moon shows in every pool; in every pool, the same moon.
When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.
Move and the way will open.
For Chan students, a weed is a treasure.
From the withered tree, a flower blooms.
Keep in mind that not getting what you want is sometimes a blessing.
Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening, no doubt no awakening.
Sometimes, simply by sitting, the soul collects wisdom.
Flowing water never goes bad.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.
Happiness must not be sought for; when what disturbs passes away, happiness comes of itself.
Eat when you’re hungry. Drink when you’re thirsty. Sleep when you’re tired.
If you meet one the way a man who knows, don’t speak a word — don’t keep silent.
When you pass through, no one can pin you down, no one can call you back.
The one that is good at shooting does not hit the center of the target.
Your enemy is your greatest teacher.
Chan Story (1):
A Chan Master, when asked where he would go after he died, replied, “To hell, for that’s where help is needed most.”
Chan Story (2):
“What should one do when one does not take up a single thing?” Yen-Yang asked Master Chao-Chou. “Put it down,” Master Chao-Chou replied. “If you do not take anything, how can you put it down?” “Then carry it with you.”