Venerable Sheng Yen, one of the most prolific and well-respected Buddhist teachers in the world, died Tuesday, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news service.
Best known for his scholarly books and journals on Cha’n (Zen) Buddhism, Sheng Yen established Dharma Drum Mountain, a community in Elmhurst, N.Y., after several failed efforts to found groups here.
He led quite an interesting life, as his autobiography “Footprints in the Snow,” relates. As a very young man with few prospects in rural China he entered a Buddhist monastery. Later, he was conscripted into China’s nationalist army to fight the communists in Taiwan. When he finally got out the army he studied for a while in Taiwan before trying his hand in the U.S., where he lived homeless for a time on the streets of the Bronx.
You can read my Q&A with Sheng Yen from last November here.