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Book Launch of “Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicle” in Malaysia

People met Master Sheng Yen through different causes and conditions. The Master may be long gone, but his teaching by example has kept inspiring many to follow his footprints and continue his vision to “uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth.”

As Prof. Lin Qixian, compiler and editor of Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicle, put it, “Humans create history, but it is the worthy people that drive human history forward to a higher level. History fosters people to achieve accomplishments, enabling them to see the oneness in people, and see all people as one. Master Sheng Yen exemplified the latter, by inspiring many to engage in Buddhist practices and vow to tread the Bodhisattva path.”

On the morning of August 6, at the first overseas book launch event for Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicle, Lin used a phrase—“the person, the things, and the people”—
to weave together the events of Master Sheng Yen’s life, describing it as “filled with surprises, yet most ordinary and simple in his later years.” The Master’s example is a life-education lesson for many of us, especially how he embraced illness, aging, and suffering in his later years.

“In terms of geographic relocation, transformation of identity, propagation of the Dharma, and his stories in later years, Master Sheng Yen had always been a monk crossing boundaries of many kinds. From novice monk to soldier, then from soldier to military officer, and finally from military officer to bhikshu, he had encompassed the qualities of a humanistic monastic, demonstrating the right actions as required of human beings.”

Prof. Lin said that Master Sheng Yen’s connection with Malaysia actually started long time ago, when a Dharma teacher from the Hoeh Beng Temple in Kuala Lumpur sent a few Malaysian Ringgits to the Master, who was at that time in a solitary retreat, hoping that he would consider taking over the position as abbot of Hoeh Beng Temple after completing the retreat.

Another time was in 1962, when Master Sheng Yen’s article on Buddhist concepts of sila and vinaya published in the Everlasting Light, a magazine released quarterly in Malaysia, attracted the attention of Ven. Chu Mo. The venerable then sent 10 US dollars to Sheng Yen, still in the retreat at the time, expressing his interest to publish and circulate the article by itself. The venerable also offered to sponsor the printing cost for Sheng Yen to continue writing articles on the same topic to be compiled into a book, leading to the future publication of the Essentials of Buddhist Sila and Vinaya.

As the professor emphasized, biographies or chronicles of great people allow us to learn from their thoughts and deeds. Especially, the more we know of them, the more we will want to be like them, to engage in undertakings that benefit others and self, thereby helping to purify human minds and build a pure land on earth.

He also encouraged people to begin study groups for Master Sheng Yen’s Chronicle. By exchanging ideas learned from reading the book, people can push themselves to move forward in Buddhist practice while benefitting others. The Chronicle may contain a lot of information to take in, but if study group members can share their views then they will be able to inspire each other with their collective wisdom.

Towards the end, the Dharma Drum Young Buddhists Society sang a song entitled “World Citizens” to reflect the Master’s philosophy of “seeking common ground while reserving differences.” Included in the album “Together with Your Mind,” the first music album created by Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Centre Malaysia, this song encourages people to “embrace your mind, experience your mind, and listen to yourself from within.” The album was released on the very day, and received high appraisal and recognition from the participants.

Text contributor: Huang Hsiuyi (黃秀儀)
Photographer: Yang Peifu / Li Hsuansheng (楊培福/李選勝)
Translator: Frances Liu (劉珮如)
Editor: Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)

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