A statement from Bliss and Wisdom monastic community
With reverence to our beloved teacher,
We pledge to uphold the highest standard of the Buddhist teachings.
I. Beloved Teacher Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang: Establishment of Buddhist endeavours
With all-encompassing compassion and wisdom, Shakyamuni Buddha imparted the complete Buddhist teachings for the purpose of helping all sentient beings leave suffering and attain ultimate happiness. Over 1,000 years ago, Honourable Je Atisha, representing the pinnacle of Buddhism, was invited to Tibet to spread Buddhist teachings, thereby allowing the teachings to flourish. Thereafter, the teachings were passed down from one generation of Buddhist masters and students to another, finally reaching Master Tsong-kha-pa, who then upheld and revitalized this pure lineage of the Buddhist teachings. This pure lineage has continued for 600 years since, until this day.
Our beloved teacher Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang followed closely the instructions from his teachers, who had a clear line of lineage, and devoted his entire life to establishing the sublime Buddhist teachings.
In 1991, he established a community for monks at Fuzhi Meditation Center in Nantou, Taiwan. He led monastics to diligently learn, practice, and propagate Buddhist scriptures and commentaries, including The Prajnaparamita Sutra, The Nanshan Vinaya, and The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment ("The Great Treatise"). At the same time, he guided lay practitioners to engage in in-depth study and practice of Buddhist scriptures, including The Great Treatise and The Guide to the Nanshan Vinaya for Lay Buddhists ("Beilan") thereby establishing wide-reaching study groups of The Great Treatise.
In slightly over a decade, the Bliss and Wisdom monastic community has grown to be of scale; Bliss and Wisdom Foundation of Culture and Education, working together with Bliss and Wisdom Educational Park are actively promoting moral education and Confucian ethics; Tse-Xin Organic Agriculture Foundation cooperating with Leezen Company are strongly advocating the development of organic farming and food safety in Taiwan.
Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang had a selfless motivation to promote Buddhist teachings in order to help all beings. His conduct strictly followed ethical discipline. Under his guidance, monastic and lay practitioners worked diligently in their independent endeavours in accordance to Buddhist principles. They also cooperated with one another, thereby bringing Buddhist teachings to all beings. They aspired to consider the physical and emotional needs of all.
II. Master Zhen-Ru: Successor of the lineaged teachings
In 1998, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang met Master Zhen-Ru in mainland China for the first time. Based on his understanding of Buddhist Mahayana scriptures, ethical discipline, as well as the conduct of past Buddhist masters, he was convinced that Master Zhen-Ru had a profound understanding of The Great Treatise. In addition, he saw in her an extremely unique quality. Her daily conduct integrated her complete comprehension of the teachings of The Great Treatise. Also, among all of Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's students, Master Zhen-Ru is the only one who is capable of truly understanding his intent.
In 2000, he appointed Master Zhen-Ru as the future successor and spiritual teacher of the Bliss and Wisdom community. During several occasions of his public teachings to monastic and lay communities, he paid high praise to Master Zhen-Ru. With great sincerity and joy, he decided to entrust all of his Buddhist endeavours to Master Zhen-Ru.
Before his passing in 2004, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang personally travelled to mainland China several times to teach Master Zhen-Ru. They discussed about all major developments concerning Bliss and Wisdom monastic and lay practitioners. Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's journals and the recordings of his teachings to Master Zhen-Ru completely preserved this important successor handover.
As arranged by Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang, the core monastic and lay students—including the abbot of the monastery, senior-level monks, as well as the board of directors of lay Buddhist endeavours—personally received teachings from Master Zhen-Ru. He also clearly informed them of his decision in appointing Master Zhen-Ru as the successor and spiritual teacher of the Bliss and Wisdom community.
In October 2004, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang became seriously ill. Due to travel restrictions between Taiwan and mainland China, Master Zhen-Ru was unable to come to Taiwan. He was determined to visit mainland China to personally impart his last teachings to her.
When Master and student met, it was a moment of joy and sorrow. Master Zhen-Ru first reverently offered a string of 108 crystal prayer beads, devoutly asking him to impart upon her all of his profound Buddhist understandings. Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang then recited mantras while counting the prayer beads. With conviction, he placed the prayer beads around Master Zhen-Ru's neck and proclaimed: "Everything that is mine is now yours."
His attendants Venerable Master Ru-Qi, Venerable Master Ru-Jun, and other venerable masters, were all by his side. Mr. Ke-Zhou Lu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bliss and Wisdom, respectfully gave an offering to Master Zhen-Ru, symbolizing an official handover. This offering was prepared in accordance with instructions from Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang. Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang once again proclaimed to Master Zhen-Ru: "This represents all of my endeavours. I am now giving everything to you!"
On October 15, 2004, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang passed away peacefully in mainland China. Bearing the heavy pain of loss, Master Zhen-Ru continued shouldering the responsibility entrusted upon her and firmly kept in mind Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's wishes. Master Zhen-Ru led the 20,000 Bliss and Wisdom monastic and lay students to overcome the difficulties following his passing. Despite many hardships, Master Zhen-Ru has continued to develop and implement unprecedented Buddhist endeavours that are in accordance with Buddhist teachings.
III. Lineaged teachers: Passing on pure lineaged teachings
The key in sustaining the pure Buddhist lineaged teachings lies in whether the students rely on the teacher in accordance with Buddhist teachings and ethical discipline.
Because Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang closely followed his teachers' instructions, he received the most auspicious blessings and high approval from many excellent Buddhist masters, including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Geshe Lobsang Gyatso (former principal of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in India), and the late Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche (the former His Eminent Sharpa Choeje Rinpoche).
Many lineaged teachers, including the chief disciple of the 10th Panchen Lama, Harwa Jamyang Lodro Rinpoche, Gendun Gyatso (former abbot of Labrang Monastery) and his chief disciple, Lobsang Gyatso, all expressed on various occasions high praises of Master Zhen-Ru's ability to completely abide by the instructions of her teachers, as well as her other notable achievements in her practice of The Great Treatise. In addition, they also passed on to her many lineaged Buddhist teachings.
Despite Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's passing of over ten years, Bliss and Wisdom monastic community has been able to receive the teachings from many great Buddhist masters, thereby shouldering the responsibility to carry on Buddha's teachings. The Bliss and Wisdom monastic community is grateful toward their spiritual teachers, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang and Master Zhen-Ru. Their unique ability to completely abide by the instructions of their teachers allowed them to establish strong relationships with many Buddhist masters. Thereby, the monastic community was able to establish the Five Great Treatises curriculum and global translation bureau. In the process, they received continuous lineaged teachings and blessings as well as precious instructions from these great Buddhist masters.
In particular, during the Pravarana of 2017, two Buddhist masters recognized as authorities of the Golden Garland of Eloquence—Yonten Gyatso and Geshe Lobsang Tenpa (abbot of Drepung Monastery)—both visited the monastic community. They gave many auspicious and rare lineaged teachings to Master Zhen-Ru and monastic members.
IV. The flourishing of Buddha's teachings
Since 2004, as successor and spiritual teacher of monastic and lay practitioners of Bliss and Wisdom, Master Zhen-Ru has been closely abiding by the wishes of her teacher, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang. She has led the monastic communities to establish a culture that emphasizes abiding by the teacher in accordance with the teachings, building and maintaining harmony by following precepts, discerning the teachings, and keeping to a rigorous Buddhist practice.
In 13 years, Master Zhen-Ru created groundbreaking history in Chinese Buddhism as a key proponent in the establishment of the Tibetan lineaged curriculum of the Five Great Treatises for the monk and nun communities. She also advocated that this curriculum be provided to lay practitioners in Chinese for the first time through the Buddhist Institute for Lay People.
The Buddhist endeavours of lay practitioners—Bliss and Wisdom Buddhist Foundation, Bliss and Wisdom Foundation of Culture and Education, Tse-Xin Organic Agriculture Foundation, Leezen Company, Dream Lotus Culture and Art Foundation, and Bliss and Wisdom Educational Park—promote various charitable works that focus on spiritual growth. These works are also legally recognized, and have received many praises and approvals from both government and various groups in society. After the passing of Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang, his students stayed the course in carrying out his aspirations, continuing to reach new milestones. They continue making efforts to actualize his wish to help all beings worldwide.
Since his passing, Bliss and Wisdom students worldwide have increased from 20,000 to 100,000. The number of monks has increased from 200 to over 800; the number of nuns was approximately 70 initially and has increased to more than 600. In 2008, the North American monastic site in Canada was established, attracting many young and enthusiastic practitioners from all over the world.
This is all a result of Master Zhen-Ru's great efforts and unwavering diligence throughout the years to carry out Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's vision.
At the same time, because of Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang's far-reaching vision from over 20 years ago, the community of monks has established a solid foundation in Buddhist teachings and the Chinese and Tibetan languages. Furthermore, Master Zhen-Ru has led the monastic community in creating a translation bureau that comprises of both a complete organizational structure and a rigorous translating procedure. They are devoting their efforts in revitalizing a translation bureau, the last of which was seen almost 1,000 years ago during the Northern Song Dynasty.
The aspirations of Master Zhen-Ru reflect those of Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang. They wish for the joint efforts of the Buddhist community leaders in recreating the golden era of Buddhism. They also hope that through multilingual translations and teachings, all beings will truly benefit from Buddha's teachings.
V. Undaunted by hardships, complete dedication to the Buddhist teachings
In the early years, despite often being slandered and misunderstood by others, Honourable Elder Master Jih-Chang overcame great hardships and persisted in promoting the teachings of The Great Treatise. He planted the flag that symbolized the pure lineage of Buddhist teachings, and inspired Buddhist practitioners to value and acknowledge the importance of having the lineaged teachings.
Since Master Zhen-Ru became the successor, despite encountering many obstacles, libel and slander, baseless accusations, she bore it all. She persisted in establishing a curriculum for monastic and lay practitioners to study and practice the Buddhist scriptures in-depth.
To this day, the Bliss and Wisdom monastic communities must not forget our spiritual teachers' guidance, to discipline our thoughts at all times. We strive to turn any defamation toward us into an opportunity to practice. Our wish is to have a compassionate heart like that of our teachers and carry forth their aspirations. We vow that the very essence of our practice is to abide by our teachers' instructions. We will exert all efforts to share the lineaged Buddhist teachings within the Chinese community and worldwide, thereby benefitting all beings currently and in time to come.
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