Footprints in the Snow

By Chan Master Sheng Yen In this landmark memoir, a renowned Buddhist master traces his spiritual journey against the panoramic story of China from the precommunist era to the present. Master Sheng Yen has devoted much of his life to spreading the teachings of Chinese Buddhism — a practice that antedates the more familiar Japanese and Tibetan traditions — throughout the world. He became known in the United States after he began founding meditation centers here in 1980. Now in his late seventies, he tells the remarkable story of his life and spiritual education in Footprints in the Snow. From descriptions of the private world of Buddhist masters to first-hand accounts of Chinese history, it is a rare document that is both an important look at China’s past and a compelling spiritual journey across a lifetime. Master Sheng Yen’s story is of a life lived in the last years of the Republic of China, the Sino-Japanese War, and the founding of the People’s Republic of China. An eye-opening slice of modern history as well as an authoritative introduction to an ancient religious tradition, Footprints in the Snow will appeal to spiritual seekers, travelers who want to understand more about China, or anyone looking for a fascinating story. Purchase online from Amazon.


Orthodox Chinese Buddhism

By Chan Master Sheng Yen As a long-time monk, scholar, and founder of monasteries in Asia and North America, Master Sheng Yen is uniquely qualified to explain the correct — therefore "orthodox" — beliefs that have guided Chinese Buddhism for over 1,500 years. Written while the author was on solitary retreat, OCB was Master Sheng Yen's response to many questions he received about Chinese Buddhism. Using a question-and-answer format, the book explores a wide range of subjects, from what it means to be a Buddhist to sudden enlightenment. This English translation is, therefore, a welcome addition to the Western literature of Buddhism and includes new annotations, appendixes, and a glossary designed for the Western reader. Purchase online from Amazon or get the free book here.

Things Pertaining to Bodhi
The Thirty-seven Aids to Enlightenment

By Chan Master Sheng Yen The Thirty-seven Aids to Enlightenment are a set of fundamental teachings of Buddhism in the form of a list. The list's seeming simplicity belies the fact that it is actually a kind of road map to enlightenment for anyone who follows it with diligence and sincerity. The Thirty- seven Aids comprise seven groups of practices conducive to awakening. Each of the seven groups is itself a list of enlightenment factors, which add up to a total of thirty-seven: (1) The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, (2) The Four Proper Exertions, (3) The Four Steps to Magical Powers, (4) The Five Roots, (5) The Five Powers, (6) The Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and (7) The Noble Eightfold Path. Master Sheng Yen's down-to-earth teachings take the reader on a progression through each of the practices, illustrating how they relate to the reader’s own path toward enlightenment. Purchase online from Amazon.

Chan Master’s Discourse

Faith in Mind

By Chan Master Sheng Yen   In Faith in Mind Chan Master Sheng Yen (b. 1930) comments on the revered Chinese Buddhist text, the Xinxin Ming (Faith in Mind), by the third patriarch of Chan, Sengcan (d. 606 C.E.). Only a few pages long, the Xinxin Ming expresses profoundest truths about the enlightened mind. Master Sheng Yen approaches this poem as more than philo-sophy; he also sees it as a practical guide to meditation practice. He says, "True faith in mind is the belief grounded in realization that we have a fundamental, unmoving, and unchanging mind. This mind is precisely buddha-mind". Purchase online from Amazon.

The Infinite Mirror

By Chan Master Sheng Yen   Here is the inimitable Master Sheng Yen at his best, illuminating the ancient texts of the Chinese Zen tradition to show how wonderfully practical they really are, even for us today. The texts, written by two of the founders of the Ts’ao-tung sect of Chan Buddhism, are poems entitled Inquiry into Matching Halves and Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi. Both emphasize the Chan view that wisdom is not separate from vexation, and both speak of the levels of awareness through which one must pass on the way to realization. Both are also works of Buddhist philosophy that can serve as guides to spiritual practice for anyone. Purchase online from Amazon.

Song of Mind:
Wisdom from the Zen classic Xin Ming

By Chan Master Sheng Yen   "No words can explain enlightenment," says the seventh-century Chan classic Xin Ming (Song of Mind) by Chan Master Farong (594-657). Even so, this poem wonderfully expresses what cannot be expressed in words. In his commentary, Master Sheng Yen takes the austere language of the Xin Ming and reveals to us its still-vital inner meanings. But his ultimate purpose is practical: to show us how to approach Chan meditation, how to deal with problems arising in practice, and how to integrate Chan into every aspect of one's life. The book is based on a series of 7-day intensive Chan retreats with Master Sheng Yen that took place over several years. Each chapter consists of a commentary by Master Sheng Yen on a section of the poem, thus guiding us stanza-by-stanza through this classic of Chan literature. The result is an intimate feeling of being there as he brings this classic to life. Purchase online from Amazon.

The Sword of Wisdom:
A Commentary on the Song of Enlightenment

By Chan Master Sheng Yen   The Sword of Wisdom is an insightful commentary by Chan Master Sheng Yen on the Song of Enlightenment, a classic Chan poem by Master Yung-chia (618-907) that speaks of the proper methods and attitudes of Chan (Zen) practice. In the deepest sense, however, the Song of Enlightenment is no less than a roadmap to enlightenment. Yung-chia speaks of the thoroughly enlightened person as someone who has "nothing to learn and nothing to do". In his commentary to Yung- Chia's poem, Master Sheng Yen explains to us what that means and what a practitioner should do to attain the freedom of mind that the poem celebrates. Compiled from a series of lectures delivered during intensive 7-day meditation retreats, Master Sheng Yen's lucid commentary offers fresh insights into a timeless philosophy that will benefit and inspire all those interested in Buddhism. Purchase online from Amazon.

Chan Practice

Chan and Enlightenment

Chan enlightenment is attained through a sudden encounter; or, it may come about spontaneously after serious and sincere investigation and introspection. Chan philosophy represents a clear current that is empty yet responsive, detached and magnanimous, open and broad-minded, bright and luminous. Chan as a way of life is positive and progressive, free and easy, simple and modest, confident and comfortable. Chan as a way of thinking is to let go of selfishness, self-deceit, self-pity, self-arrogance, and self-confinement, and only then can there be complete boundless freedom. Chan methods teach people to first practice knowing the self, affirming the self, and then shattering the self, and thus the enlightened state will appear. —Master Sheng Yen— Content Author's Preface Chan Enlightenment and Sitting Meditation  1 Chan and Enlightenment  11 Chan and Entanglement  35 True Enlightenment and Mistaken Enlightenment  55 Emotion and Reason: Dealing with Complex Relations  71 Good and Evil: Establishing Correct Values and Concepts  81 Talking about Dreams While in Dreams  97 Dharma Joy and Chan Delight  109 Pure Mind, Pure Land  115 A Pure Land on Earth  127 Chan: Thus Come, Thus Gone  143 Chan: Freedom and Liberation 153 Chan: Ordinary Body and Ordinary Mind  163 Chan: Carrying Water and Firewood  175 Chan: Human Consciousness  197 Chan: Mental Health  205 Chan: Peace Within and Without  217 Chan: You, I, They  227 Chan: Many, One, and Nothingness  235 Discrimination and Non-discrimination  245 Purchase at Amazon.

The World of Chan

This book is a collection of 29 articles. Most of them are edited transcripts of the lectures by Chan Master Sheng Yen given both in the East and West, and previously published in either Humanity Magazine or Dharma Drum Monthly in Taiwan. This book promotes Chan teachings and practice methods in daily life through in-depth experience and simple, clear introductions. It aims to share the benefits of the Dharma with the public regardless of age, gender, occupation, or education. For regular meditators, this book provides basic sitting meditation techniques. Exceptionally busy people are advised to try and use the Chan cultivation methods in this book to harmonize themselves, and dissolve their attachment to "self." From relaxing the body and mind for as little as three minutes to attending to body and mind throughout daily life, these methods show the simplicity and practicality of expedient Chan methods. Chan Master Sheng Yen hoped that this book enhances the efficacy of Chan to protect our spiritual, living, and natural environments, and to realize Dharma Drum Mountain's vision of uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on Earth. Purchase it at Amazon.

Liberated in Stillness and Motion

Contents Preface vii Enlightenment and the Practice of Chan  1 Chan Studies and the Correct Buddhist Teachings  15 The Methods of Practice of Chan and Pure Land  23 Chan and Mental Health  33 Chan and Modern Life  43 Chan and Spiritual Environmentalism  53 Chan Practice and the Environmental Life  65 Religion, Chan, Buddhadharma and "Evil Demons"  69 No-Self and True-Self  71 No Rise of    Wandering Thoughts, No Rejection of Phenomena  83 Wandering Thoughts, Scattered Thoughts, and Mindfulness  87 Awakening to the Mind and Seeing the Nature  93 Mind in Buddhism and Chan  101 Ordinary Mind  111 The Mind is Like the Sun Shining in Empty Space  119 Zero Faults  131 From Existence to Emptiness and from Emptiness to Existence  137 The Power and Function of Group Practice  143 The Attitude for Practicing Chan  147 Chan for Ordinary People  155 The Principle of Chan Meditation Practice  163 Purchase at Amazon.

Attaining the Way

By Chan Master Sheng Yen This is an inspiring guide to the practice of Chan (Chinese Zen) in the words of four great masters of that tradition. It includes teachings from contemporary masters Xuyun and Sheng Yen, and from Jiexian and Boshan of the Ming Dynasty(1368–1644). Though the texts were written over a period of hundreds of years, they are all remarkably lucid and are perfect for beginners as well as more advanced practitioners today. All the main points of spiritual practice are covered: philosophical foundations, methods, approaches to problems and obstacles — all aimed at helping the student attain the way to enlightenment. Purchase online from Amazon.

Dharma Drum:
The Life and Heart of Chan Practice

Here is an ideal guide to the practice of Chan Buddhism by a great modern teacher. Part One presents Master Sheng Yen's lively, anecdotal account of the history and main principles of the Chan tradition, along with his careful instructions for meditation. Part Two consists of 180 of his gemlike aphorisms and sayings that serve as inspirations to spiritual practice. The book will appeal to beginners as well as experienced students. Purchase at Amazon.  

Getting the Buddha Mind

By Chan Master Sheng Yen "In meditation, we go from phenomena to emptiness by progressively voiding our mental states". This sentence from Getting the Buddha Mind succinctly summarizes the purpose of practicing Chan meditation. What does it mean? This slim volume, now in its third printing, provides some of the answers to the question of how the practice of Chan retreat is integral to the path of realizing "emptiness" -- the enlightened state of bodhi, or Buddha Mind. Compiled from lectures by Master Sheng Yen during 7-day retreats in New York City and Long Island, this volume is recommended for beginners as well as seasoned practitioners of Chan and Zen Buddhism. Purchase online from Amazon.

Hoofprint of the Ox:
Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path

By Chan Master Sheng Yen   Drawing its title from the famous ox-herding pictures that symbolize enlightenment as the search by an ox-herder for his wayward ox, Hoofprint of the Ox is an inspirational guide to the self-discovery that is possible through Chan practice. Master Sheng Yen shares his wisdom and teachings in this first comprehensive English primer of Chan -- the Chinese tradition of Buddhism that inspired Japanese Zen. Often misunderstood as an obscure system of paradoxes, the Chan path leads to enlightenment through apparent contradiction. While demanding the discipline of traditional Buddhism, Chan asserts that wisdom (Buddha-nature) is innate and immediate in all living beings, and thus not achieved through the strictures of religious practice, but through dropping all attachments and clinging that obscure our true self-nature. Purchase online from Amazon.

Shattering the Great Doubt

By Chan Master Sheng Yen Huatou is a skillful method for breaking through the prison of mental habits into the spacious mind of enlightenment. The huatou is a confounding question much like a Zen koan. Typical ones are "What is wu [emptiness]?" or "What was my original face before birth-and-death?" But a huatou is unlike a koan in that the aim is not to come up with an answer. The practice is simple: ask yourself your huatou relentlessly, in meditation as well as in every other activity. Don't give up on it; don't try to think your way to an answer. Resolve to live with the sensation of doubt that arises, and it will pervade your entire existence with a sense of profound wonder, ultimately leading to the shattering of the sense of an independent self. Purchase online from Amazon.

Subtle Wisdom:
Understanding Suffering, Cultivating Compassion Through Ch'an Buddhism

By Chan Master Sheng Yen Master Sheng Yen, a Dharma descendant of the founders of Buddhism in China, considers the concepts of suffering, enlightenment, and, compassion, and briefly recaps the history of Buddhism in China. But he goes beyond these issues to discuss contemporary matters and questions he has encountered in his years of teaching in the United States. Sometimes personal and always instructive, Mater Sheng Yen's introductory work is perfect for those just coming to Buddhism, and for those who are already very familiar with the Tibetan and Zen schools. Purchase online from Amazon.

The Method of No Method:
The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination

By Chan Master Sheng Yen Here is a spiritual practice uncomplicated enough for anyone to learn, yet rich enough to be worked with for a lifetime. The traditional Chan (Chinese Zen) practice called Silent Illumination begins with nothing more than putting aside all thoughts except the awareness of oneself "just sitting." It's so simple in execution that it has sometimes been called the "method of no-method"—yet simple as it is, the practice is subtle and profound, with the potential forever subtler refinements as the practitioner moves toward mastery of it. When fully penetrated, this radical form of emptying one's busy mind-stream leads to the perception of the vast ocean of pure awareness.  Purchase online from Amazon.

The Poetry of Enlightenment:
Poems by Ancient Chan Masters

"To my knowledge there are no anthologies of Chan poetry in Chinese, Japanese or English which describe in detail the method of practice and the experience of Chan. Furthermore, there are few prose sources in English dealing with the same topics. The purpose of these poems is to specifically show you how to practice, what attitudes to cultivate and what pitfalls to beware of. Finally, they attempt to describe the ineffable experience of Chan itself. These poems flow directly from the minds of the enlightened Chan masters. They include works by Shih Wang Ming, Master Fu, Seng Ts'an, Niu T'ou Fa Jung, Yung Chia Hsuan Chueh, Shih T'ou Hsi Ch'ien, Tung Shan Liang Chieh, and Han Shan Te Ch'ing." We get a glimpse into their experience at the time of, and after their enlightenment. -- Chan Master Sheng Yen Purchase online from Amazon.  

Dharma For Daily Life

Zen Wisdom:
Conversations on Buddhism

By Chan Master Sheng Yen In Zen Wisdom Chan Master Sheng Yen answers questions from his students with clarity, humor, and depth. Collected over several years, these conver- sations focus on the simple yet seemingly elusive principles of Chan (Zen) practice. The questions deal not only with the philosophical foundations of Buddhism, such as "What is the self?" but also with issues such as how to practice meditation in daily life. Combining Buddhist wisdom with informed knowledge of contem- porary life, Master Sheng Yen shows us that the Buddha's teachings are still fresh and relevant today.   Purchase online from Amazon.

Dharma Drum:
The Life and Heart of Chan Practice

By Chan Master Sheng Yen In Dharma Drum, Master Sheng Yen offers fresh insights into the ways we can bring Chan study and practice into our daily lives. Part One includes anecdotal explanations of the history and concepts that shaped Chan Buddhism, along with careful explanations of methods for meditation and other practices. Part Two pulls us into the rhythms of practice itself, with aphorisms and bits of guidance for people at any level of practice. "In Buddhism, awakening from the long dream of life means realizing your self-nature. ... Although we may understand that our lives are dream- like, we still bear responsibility for this sleeping and waking dream". -- Chan Master Sheng Yen Purchase online from Amazon.

Sutra Commentaries

There Is No Suffering

Master Sheng Yen There Is No Suffering is Chan Master Sheng Yen's commentary on the Heart Sutra He speaks on the sutra from the Chan point of view, and presents it as a series of contemplation methods, encouraging readers to experience it directly through meditation and daily life In this way, reading the Heart Sutra becomes more than just an intellectual exercise; it becomes wisdom inherent within each of us Whether one wants a better understanding of Buddhist concepts or a deepened meditation practice, this commentary on the Heart Sutra can help. Purchase at Amazon.

Complete Enlightenment

by Master Sheng Yen Complete Enlightenment is the first authoritative English translation and commentary on The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment, a central Mahayana text that shaped the development of East Asian Buddhism and Chan. Master Sheng Yen incisively applies the sutra to practice in contemporary life. The central theme of this book consists of penetrating dialogues between the Buddha and twelve illustrious bodhisattvas on the nature of enlightenment. Each of the bodhisattvas is an enlightened being who epitomizes the ideals of Mahayana Buddhism, the Middle Way of vowing to help all sentient beings while on the path to buddha-hood. "The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment is a Dharma dialogue between the Buddha and several great bodhisattvas in the presence of a large Sangha. If you know how to be there and how to listen, you will be able to actually participate in it. It is still going on." --Thich Nhat Hanh Purchase online from Amazon.