Venerable JianHu, Abbot
Venerable JianHu is the first overseas abbot of Chung Tai, emigrated from Taiwan and attended high school in the United States. In 1993, he first met the Grand Master and was deeply impressed by his deep serenity and wisdom. This influenced JianHu Shifu to begin his journey toward realizing his original nature. After he earned his doctorate in Artificial Neural Networks from UC San Diego, he renounced the secular life and was ordained at Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Taiwan in 1994. In 2000, JianHu Shifu, with four other Dharma masters, came to Northern California and established Buddha Gate Monastery, the first overseas branch of Chung Tai, to plant the seeds of Buddhism in the United States. In 2004, JianHu Shifu established the Zen Center in Silicon Valley. He taught meditation and the Dharma, and under his leadership the Zen Center became well-known locally. Very soon the demand for its classes and programs outgrew the space. As a result, a new location was procured and in 2007 the new Zen Center opened. Besides offering Zen Buddhism classes and retreats, the Zen Center also hosts a variety of programs advocating vegetarianism, sustainable living, and interfaith dialogue. Over the years its vegetarian meals offered free to the public have become famous in the Bay Area and many people come to the Zen Center to sample the cuisine.
Venerable JianXie, Vice Abbot
The Zen Center of Sunnyvale welcome our Vice Abbot, JianXie Shifu, in April 2011. Incidentally, the word “Xie” means, “to assist or cooperate,” it is also part of the term “harmony.” An experienced Dharma Master, he had served as a vice abbot at The Zen Center of Sunnyvale in February 2005 and a vice abbot at The Zen Center of Houston in October 2010. He also had served as the Liturgy Master, Managing Director, as well as Abbot at various Chung Tai Zen Centers in Taiwan.
Back in his school days, JianXie Shifu had a fondness of Confucianism for its philosophy on improving oneself and social order. He also liked Chuang Tzu, a sage advocating the joy and freedom of soaring above material things and being one with nature. Unexpectedly he came across “Notable Words of Shakyamuni Buddha,” and was deeply drawn to the encompassing wisdom and truth he found that are more profound and complete than Confucianism and Taoism.
Upon entering college, JianXie Shifu decided to seek a greater understanding of the Dharma. In the summer of freshman year, he participated in a seven day Buddha Recitation Retreat. On the last day, amid the continuous solemn chanting, he tasted for the first time the indescribable joy of the vast stillness and emptiness of body and mind. Nonetheless, he could not yet comprehend the true meaning of liberation. In pursuit, he attended a Chan Seven Retreat presided by Grand Master WeiChueh at a Chung Tai monastery. After immersing in the Grand Master’s sweet dew of the Dharma, he experienced a deeper appreciation and firmer faith in the meaning of the original true mind in Chan (or Zen) Buddhism.
After completing the draft duties , JianXie Shifu joined the monastic order under Grand Master Wei Chueh, one of the living legend in Chan Buddhism. He completely dwelt in the study of the Dharma and received full ordination later that year.
As the Vice Abbot, JianXie Shifu has been supervising the entire development and renovation process of the new Zen Center of Sunnyvale that celebrated the grand opening in April 2007. He is well respected for his dynamic teaching, unceasing stamina, versatility, and organizing skills.
In addition to teaching the Dharma, JianXie Shifu continues to oversee general operations and building development and maintenance. He also looks forward to working in cooperating with all disciples to radiate the essence of Zen Buddhism to all sentient beings in the West.
Venerable JianQi, Executive Director
A Bodhi seed germinating in college, JianQi Shifu tasted the sweet dews of the Dharma from participating in the Buddhist Club on campus and aspired to the life of a monk free of hindrances. In 1995, he attended a Seven-Day Meditation Retreat offered by the Grand Master WeiChueh. He was moved by the inspirational Dharma talks and resolved to expand his study of Buddhism.
After college, amid a busy work life, JianQi Shifu continued to explore different ways in search of the true meaning of life. Eventually he realized that cultivating Buddhism is the ultimate way. As he returned to graduate study, he also turned to a Chung Tai Zen Center for regular classes. Guided by the Abbot, he volunteered as the leader of the Acolyte Group and put his learning in practice. Several years later, he was more convinced than ever that leaving home life to become a monastic cultivator is the most important matter in life.
Upon receiving a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Sun Yat-Sen University in 2006, he followed under the auspices of Grand Master WeiChueh and received his full ordination in 2008. Indeed he has followed his vow to attain Buddhahood and benefit all sentient beings at the same time.
He delved into the profound Dharma at the Chung Tai Buddhist Institute for Monks. Grasping the Grand Master’s teachings ever more, he deepened his realization of how the seemingly simple lessons, such as the Grand Master’s Four Tenets of Chung Tai, embrace the boundless compassion and wisdom of the Buddha. They are relevant to different aspects of life, be it of a student, at work, or a monastic person; they point to the path to enlightenment.
Venerable JianAng, Docent Director & Financial Director
Since childhood, JianAng Shifu has had the good roots for encountering Buddhism, having followed his family to different temples to pay respect and prostrate to the Buddhas. After serving military duty in 2004, he suffered the sudden loss of a beloved family member. This incident deeply impacted him and caused him to realize the impermanent and fleeting nature of life. It also brought about in him a strong resolve to delve into the Buddha Dharma and to untangle the delusions of life and death.
As a result, JianAng Shifu began to attend classes frequently at the Pu Zhong Meditation Center in Zhongli City, Taiwan. Under the compassionate guidance of the abbess, he attended his first Zen-7 Retreat at Chung Tai Chan Monastery in July 2005. He listened to the Grand Master’s inspiring lecture and words of great wisdom, upon which his whole being opened up to absorbing the teachings, helping him develop a strong conviction in Zen Buddhism. During a month long trial residency and practice at Chung Tai, he further realized that cultivation is the most important goal in life. Moreover, his determination to support the Dharma and its propagation had become firm and unwavering.
In August 2005, responding to his true calling and finding his true “home” at Chung Tai, JianAng Shifu was ordained under the auspices of Grand Master WeiChueh. He attended the Chung Tai Institute for Monks, completing both the undergraduate and graduate programs.Since then, he has served as liturgy master and in other posts for various ceremonies at Chung Tai Chan Monastery. JianAng Shifu has a background in finance and has served as finance and docent director at Buddha Jewel Monastery in Seattle and as finance director at the Texas Pagoda Chan Monastery. Most recently, JianAng Shifu has been assigned to the Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale in March 2012 to serve as docent master and Dharma instructor.
“The bodhisattva, like the moon, sails in serene emptiness; when our mind water is lucid and pure, the Bodhi reflection will appear.” Upholding the Grand Master’s teaching, JianAng Shifu vows to liberate all sentient beings, enabling everyone to resonate with the wondrous Buddhist teachings and to be enriched by the sweet dew of the Dharma.
Venerable JianYong, Docent Director