Guo Yuan Fashi – Abbot
Guo Yuan Fashi, one of Chan Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma heirs, is a Buddhist monk trained in Chan Buddhism. In 1985 he first encountered Master Sheng Yen’s teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Chan tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. For over twenty years, he accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng Yen in various Chan meditation retreats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico.
He studied Theravada Buddhism for a year in Thailand in 1991. Upon returning from Thailand, Guo Yuan Fashi was elected abbot of both the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens and the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC) in Pine Bush, New York. His responsibilities included attending interfaith services, teaching meditation, and giving lectures on Buddhism. In 2006 he became the director of the International Chan Retreat Center in Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. In 2016 he returned to Pine Bush to become once again the abbot of DDRC. Fluent in Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, he leads Chan retreat in many countries around the world.
Chang Hu Fashi -Acting Director
Chang-Hu Fashi first took the Three Refuges in 1988. In 2004, he was admitted into Dharma Drum Sangha University, where he majored in Chan Studies, with a focus on Chinese Chan. In 2006 he received full ordination. In 2010, Chang Hu Fashi graduated from Dharma Drum Sangha University and took on the role of Supervisor of the Chan Meditation Office, organizing various types of Chan events and teacher-training.
Since 2006 Chang Hu Fashi has been involved in over 160 intensive Chan retreats, conducting individual interviews and amassing rich experience in overall retreat organization. He has studied and taught meditation in Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Singapore, and Malaysia. In January 2015 Chang Hu Fashi arrived at DDRC, where his current responsibilities are information technology. Chang Hu Fashi has a deep interest in areas such as incense-meditation, tea-meditation, Buddhist arts, photography, botany, contemplation of artistic renditions based on Buddhist scriptures. He is also studying English. To find out more, please join him on Facebook “shi chang hu”. He is looking forward to engaging in further communication in “simple” English.
Chan Master Sheng Yen’s Heirs in the Dharma Drum Mountain Lineage
Chi Chern Fashi
Ordained by Master Zhu Mo in Penang, Malaysia, Chi Chern Fashi studied at the Fo Guang Buddhist College in Taiwan. Around 1980, he participated in several seven-day retreats and a period of fasting with Master Sheng Yen at the Institute of Buddhist Culture (Wen Hua Guan). During this time he had a profound experience.
With Master Sheng Yen’s confirmation, he returned to Malaysia to teach meditation. He received transmission from Master Sheng Yen in 1985, becoming his first Dharma heir. Chi Chern Fashi is currently the principal of the Malaysian Buddhist Institute, and is one of the most respected meditation teachers in Malaysia and Singapore.
Founder of the Buddhist Center in Zagreb, Croatia. Zarko first encountered Buddhism in 1975 and has been a martial arts and yoga teacher since the 1970s. In 1985 he started the first Buddhist study and meditation group in Croatia which in time grew into the first Buddhist community there, known today as Dharmaloka.
In 1996, while seeking a new teacher, he met Chan Master Sheng Yen, attended his seven-day retreat and became one of his students. Seeing Chan as the very core of the Buddha Dharma and Master Shen Yen as the man whose teaching stems directly from the meditative experience, he has dedicated himself to the practice of Chan meditation and has attended Master Sheng Yen’s retreats regularly. In June 2001, during a two-week retreat in the USA, Zarko received Dharma transmission from Master Sheng Yen, thus becoming one of his five Dharma heirs in the West.
Simon Child received Dharma Transmission from Chan Master Sheng Yen in 2000 and is the principal teacher of the Western Chan Fellowship, a lay Chan organisation based in the UK. Resident in England he is married with two adult sons. His main career has been as a family doctor and he now works part-time in Clinical Informatics.
Simon started his training with John Crook in 1981 and trained with Chan Master Sheng Yen from 1992. His teaching approach uses the orthodox methods of Chan Master Sheng Yen and also some adaptations to help the Western personality engage with traditional practice.
Gilbert Gutierrez has over thirty-nine years of meditation experience, which includes his study of various martial arts as well as Chi Gong. In 2002, he received Dharma Transmission from Chan Master Sheng Yen, making him the only western lineage holder currently residing in the United States. He conducts retreats and lectures throughout North America.
His home base is in Southern California and he lectures regularly at the Los Angeles DDMBA chapter and with his own Riverside Chan Meditation Group in California. Gilbert teaches in a classical Chan style which inspires his students to investigate Chan through diligent practice.
Rebecca Li, a Dharma heir in the lineage of the Chan Master Sheng Yen, started practicing meditation in 1995. She attended her first intensive retreat with Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1996 and began serving as his interpreter in 1998. She started her teacher’s training with Master Sheng Yen in 1999 and started teaching as Dharma and meditation instructor in 2002. Later on, she trained with John Crook and then Simon Child, both Dharma heirs of Master Sheng Yen, to lead intensive retreats and received full Dharma transmission from Simon Child in 2016. Currently, she teaches meditation and Dharma classes, gives public lectures and leads retreats at Dharma Drum centers, university meditation groups and Dharma practice groups mostly in northeastern United States. Some of her talks and writings can be found at www.rebeccali.org. Rebecca is also a professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at The College of New Jersey.
Guo Gu (Dr. Jimmy Yu)
Guo Gu is one of Chan Master Sheng Yen’s senior lay teachers and translators, assisting with and leading activities at the Chan Meditation Center, Dharma Drum Retreat Center, and Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. In 1982, while still quite young, he learned meditation from Master Sheng Yen, and began practicing Chan intensively in 1989.
He was also the personal monastic attendant and assistant to Master Sheng Yen for almost nine years, and then in 1995, he was given permission by the Master to teach Chan. He has led retreats in various parts of the United States, Europe, and Asia. Guo Gu is now the guiding instructor for the Western Dharma Teachers at the Chan Meditation Center. He received his PhD in Buddhist Studies in 2008 from Princeton University, and is now an Assistant Professor at Florida State University. Currently, he is the leader of the Tallahassee Chan Group which meets regularly at the Tallahassee Buddhist Community in Florida.
Resident in UK, has been practicing in the Chan tradition in the mid 1980s. She has trained with Chan Master Sheng Yen in the US and also with John Crook and Simon Child in the UK. She is past Chair of the Western Chan Fellowship and leads retreats for the Fellowship at Maenllwyd in mid Wales.
Rikki began practicing with Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1976. She is a former board member of DDMBA-North America, Director of Art Education in Queens College CUNY, and also a certified member of the California Yoga Teachers Association. As a graduate of Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY) with a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in painting, and a Doctorate in Art Education (EdD) from Columbia University, in her teaching style Rikki combines her art and education background with meditation, mindfulness and yoga techniques.
She teaches college classes for art education training, and works with inner-city teenagers and various adult and senior adult groups. Rikki teaches yoga and meditation classes in synagogues, churches, libraries, yoga centers and local community centers. She has taught yoga at the Chan Meditation Center, and the Dharma Drum Retreat Center since 1999, and formal beginners and intermediate meditation classes, as well as one and three day retreats, since 2004. She also teaches at the Omega Institute, including Memoir as a Buddhist Practice with Jim Kullander.
As a gongfu teacher in NYC, David represents the 8th generation of Wu Mei Pai, a martial art from the White Crane Buddhist Monastery in Hunan. He continues to pursue the restoration of the relationship between martial and spiritual practice. He has been a meditator for nearly 50 years, starting with Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1969.
In 1993 he became a student of the late Chan Master Sheng Yen, on whose behalf he served on the board of directors of the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association. He has been teaching meditation and lecturing on behalf of the Chan Center since 1999, and was Editor-in-Chief of Chan Magazine from 2001 to 2012.
Nancy met Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1978, when he was a student in her English as a Second Language class, and became his meditation student shortly thereafter. She teaches metta contemplation, beginners meditation classes, and leads one day retreats at the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens, where she is a member of the CMC Board of Trustees. At the Dharma Drum Retreat Center she co-leads the Beginner’s Mind retreat. Nancy lives in Connecticut and teaches English to seventh graders.
Buffe Maggie Laffey
Buffe began practicing meditation in 1966, at the age of 13. She became a disciple of Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1976, and attended the first retreats he led in America. Since then she has attended numerous intensive Chan retreats, including the forty-nine day retreat held at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center in 2000.
Since 2005 she has been on the staff of DDRC, serving as assistant to the director, webmaster, and retreat coordinator. She teaches beginner meditation classes and serves as timekeeper on intensive retreats. Buffe was a founding editor of Chan Magazine in 1977, and since 2012 again serves as the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
A licensed mental health counselor and certified rehabilitation counselor, with over fifteen years experience working with children and adults. BA in Psychology from City College/CUNY and MA in Education with a major in counseling from Hunter College/CUNY. Soledad is the program coordinator and teacher of our Little Bodhisattvas Children’s Program.
Harry Miller studied with Chan Master Sheng Yen for over 30 years, and currently leads the Westchester Chan Meditation Group in White Plains, NY. He teaches formal beginners and intermediate meditation classes at the Chan Meditation Center (CMC), and gives Dharma lectures at CMC and the Westchester Chan Meditation Group.
Harry holds a BA in French and English literature from Sarah Lawrence, and an MA in Chinese Literature and an MPhil in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. He was editor of the Chan Newsletter for over 10 years, is a frequent contributor to Chan Magazine, and is a board member of the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC).
David Slaymaker, PhD, began practicing Soto Zen in 1992 and began studying with Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1995. He teaches beginners meditation classes and beginner Dharma classes, leads one day retreats, and gives Dharma lectures at the Chan Meditation Center (CMC).
David also leads one day retreats, and co-leads the Beginner’s Mind retreat at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC). He has previously served on the Chan Meditation Center Board of Trustees, and currently resides in New Jersey where he is a professor of biology at William Paterson University.
William (Bill) Wright
Bill Wright began studying Chan with Master Sheng Yen in 1992. He teaches Dharma classes and gives Dharma lectures at the Chan Meditation Center (CMC). Bill holds an AB degree from Cornell University and a law degree from Columbia University. He is a retired attorney and lives with his wife in New York City.