Venerable and Lay Teachers Bios
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.
Born in Kaohsiung in 1953, Venerable Guo Xing left home to became a monastic under the guidance of Master Sheng Yen in 1986. In 1991, he went to Thailand to learn Theravada meditation for a year. Previously he was the supervisor of Dharma Drum Mountain meditation group, meditation teacher at DDM Sangha University, and an assistant to Master Sheng Yen in conducting retreats in Europe and the United States. Currently he is the Vice Abbot of Dharma Drum Mountain, Managing Director of Chan Practice Center and the head of DDM’s Chan Hall.
I started learning Buddhism through the practice of Buddha’s name recitation, and later on it was meditation practice that led me to become a nun. In 1980, after my first seven-day retreat with Master Sheng Yen at the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture, I knew for sure that Master Sheng Yen would be my Shifu (teacher). After receiving tonsure from Shifu in 1983, I took full ordination two years later. During my residency at Nung Chan Monastery, I dedicated myself fully to the practices of Chan meditation and Buddha’s name recitation, while served as the Director-in-chief of the monastery. In 1995, I went to Bukkyo University in Japan to study and received my doctorate degree in 2003. Since 2007, I have been the Director of Chan Culture Research and Practice Center at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts, conducting two seven-day retreats a year for students at the beginning of every semester. For over a decade, I have led many seven-day retreats making use of Master Sheng Yen’s DVD teachings, including beginners’ and intermediate retreats, Buddha’s name recitation retreats, silent illumination and huatou retreats.
Simon Child, Jing-hong Chuan-fa, received Dharma Transmission from Chan Master Shengyen in 2000. He is married with two adult sons and is a retired family doctor. He is the Guiding Teacher of the Western Chan Fellowship (WCF), a lay Chan organisation based in the UK. WCF was founded in 1997 by Simon’s other teacher, John Crook Jing-di Chuan-deng, who was Master Sheng Yen’s second Dharma Heir.
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, now known as the Dharmaloka Chan Buddhist Community.
In 1996, while seeking a new teacher, he met Chan Master Sheng Yen, attended one of his seven-day retreat, and, in the end, became one of his students. Seeing Chan as the very core of the Buddha Dharma and Master Sheng 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.
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.
Dr. Rebecca Li is a Dharma heir in the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Master Sheng Yen. She trained with Master Sheng Yen, Dr. John Crook and Dr. Simon Child and received full transmission from Dr. Simon Child. She leads Chan practice and retreats in North America and the U.K. and is founder and guiding teacher of Chan Dharma Community. She is a sociology professor in New Jersey where she lives with her husband. Her teachings can be found on www.rebeccali.org.
Karmen Mihalinec started practicing Yoga and Buddhism as a teenager and has been teaching it for the past 25 years. Seeing personal transformation as an essential prerequisite for wider change in life, she dedicates her time and energy to the study and education in the field of Chan Buddhism and associated disciplines. She is co-founder and director of Buddhist centre in Zagreb, mentor in Zenyoga Teachers Training School, author of Zenyoga: Developing Mindfulness Through Movement, and currently head of the Chan retreat centre construction project. She holds an MA degree in Indian Studies and Philosophy.
Daniela Ela Vukelja became interested in Buddhism in the 80’s after practicing yoga and martial arts with Žarko Andričević, Karmen Mihalinec and other friends of a young Buddhist community in Zagreb, Croatia. Under the guidance of Žarko Andričević, she started to study Chan and practice meditation seriously by regularly attending Žarko’s retreats from 1999. In 2002, she first met Master Sheng Yen and attended his ten-day silent illumination retreatin in DDRC at Pine Bush, New York. Four years later she received the Bodhisattva Precepts from Shifu. Ela has taught yoga for more than 20 years and became a certified Zenyoga teacher in 2005. As a regular member of Dharmaloka Buddhist community, she co-leads Chan workshops and Zenyoga seminars with Zarko and Karmen.
Besides teaching Zenyoga and running a Chan meditation group in Pula, Ela also works as a social pedagogue educator, dealing with children and youths in alternative care.