Our Ch'an Lineage
The story of our modern Ch'an lineage begins at the illustrious Jinshan Monastery, located in the city of Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Also known as the Chiang-T'ien Ssu, it was one of the leading centers of Ch'an practice and training and one of the largest monasteries in China. In the words of Shih Shen-Lung, "To be a full graduate of Jinshan was the Chinese Buddhist equivalent of being called to serve as a clerk at law to a member of the Supreme Court." Located on Golden Hill overlooking the Yangtze River, Jinshan was built over 1600 years ago. The tall octagonal structure which is Jinshan's signature building is the Tower of Benevolence and Longevity. In its heyday, Jinshan was home to over 3,000 monks.
Grand Master Taizang Xinran
Meditation Master Taizang was a member of the 46th generation of the orthodox Linji sect. He served as Abbot of Jinshan Monastery from 1945 until 1949 when he was forced to flee to Hong Kong following the Communist takeover. He eventually settled in Taiwan. At the age of 70, Master T'aizang transmitted the Ch'an Dharma to the west, leading to the formation of the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple in Wisconsin.
Ven. Shih Mo-Hua (Prof. Holmes Welch)
Professor Holmes Hinkley Welch (1924-1981) was a renowned Harvard sinologist who spent many years chronicling Chinese Buddhism. His book "The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900-1950" (Harvard, 1967) is considered to be one of the most complete depictions of early to mid-20th century Ch'an monastic life ever written. While Professor Welch was researching his book, he journeyed to Hong Kong where he met Master T'ai-Ts'ang. The Master took him on as a student and subsequently gave him Dharma Transmission with the admonition to pave the way for a Ch'an monastery in the US. The Master also gave Professor Welch his personal copy of the Ch'an Men Jih Sung (Ch'an Gate Daily Breviary) which became one of the first copies ever to be disseminated to the West. The Ch'an Gate is the basis for many of the chanting services at the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple and CloudWater Zendo.
"In the past few decades, Buddhism in the People's Republic of China has experienced an astonishing revival in popularity and activity. After the liberalization of social and economic policies in the 1980s, Buddhist institutions were again able to operate freely, and what was initially a slow trickle of religious activity quickly erupted into a torrent of ritual performance, ordination, temple construction, and media production. In 1997 it was reported that China was home to more than 13,000 temples and monasteries and more than 200,000 monastics, and these numbers have not stopped growing. Thanks to continued state support and the work of devoted monastics and laypeople, Buddhism in China shows every sign of once again becoming a central pillar of Chinese society and culture. This contemporary revival of Buddhism in China was, however, preceded by another period of revival that spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period to which the roots of many of the core aspects of contemporary Buddhism can be traced. In recent years a profusion of cutting-edge scholarship on this period of Chinese Buddhist history has energized the field, yet the bulk of European- and Chinese-language scholarship remains highly indebted to the work of a single scholar: Holmes H. Welch (1924-1981), who published a trilogy of books on the topic: The Practice of Chinese Buddhism: 1900 - 1950 (1967), The Buddhist Revival in China (1968), and Buddhism Under Mao (1972).
Nearly fifty years have passed since Welch conducted his fieldwork and historical research, yet the depth of his inquiry, the breadth of his vision, and the clarity of his analysis have lent his scholarship a timeless quality. It continues to prompt inquires into a wide variety of topics, such as Buddhist publishing, modern seminaries, Chinese Buddhists' responses to modern science, and their connections with global Buddhist movements. Although Welch's scholarship has had an indisputable influence, and his intellectual legacy remains important to the field, scholars have since begun to delve into sources and deploy methodologies that were unavailable in Welch’s era."
Ven. Shih Shen-Lung
Ven. Shih Shen-Lung served as the Abbot of the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple, which had begun in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and subsequently relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, until his death in 2006. Ven. Shen-Lung was the founder of Building for Maitreya, Ltd., an organization dedicated to translating important Buddhist texts, teaching the Buddha-Dharma and providing a role model for Buddhist and non-Buddhist businesses. A practicing Buddhist monk since 1972, Ven. Shen-Lung was originally ordained in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition by Rev. Soyu Matsuoka Roshi. He received Dharma Transmission from Dharma Master Shih Mo-Hua in 1980.
Ven. Shih Ying-Fa
The founder and Abbot of CloudWater Zendo, Ven. Shih Ying-Fa is a disciple of his root teacher Rev. Koshin Ogui, the former Socho (Bishop) of the Buddhist Churches of America. In 1998, Ven. Ying-Fa was ordained by Rev. Ogui as a Buddhist Sensei (Teacher). Ven. Ying-Fa also studied Pure Land Buddhism and traditional Buddhist chanting techniques with Japanese Buddhist teacher Shakuni Shunyo. In 1998 Ven. Ying-Fa received Dharma Transmission from Ven. Shih Shen-Lung, empowering him to carry on Ven. Shen-Lung's Linji Ch'an lineage. As Ven. Shen-Lung's only recognized Dharma Heir, Ven. Ying-Fa assumed the Abbotship of the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple following Ven. Shen-Lung's death. Ven. Ying-Fa has served as the Spiritual Director of the Richard Hunn Association of Ch'an Study in England and as chairperson of the Northeast Ohio Buddhist Council. In 2008 he was acknowledged as a member of the lineage of renowned Ch'an Master Xu-Yun.
Ven. Shih Ming-Xing
Ven. Shih Ming-Xing has studied with Ven. Ying-Fa for the last 18 years and is the Assistant Abbot of CloudWater Zendo. Ven. Ming-Xing is the Coordinator of the Zen and Buddhist Studies Program and also serves as Training Coordinator for Novices and Lay Assistants.