Introducing the Eminent Bhiksu


--By Bhiksu Heng Kuan

The Venerable Dharma Master Tao Yuan was born in 1899 in Hunan. He buried his mother when he was nine. When the relatives who raised him died when he was twenty, he was deeply grieved and understood the impermanence of all conditioned things. He went quickly to P'u Ching Temple where the Master Lung Pin shaved his head. He received the complete precepts of the Bhiksu when he was twenty-four from Vinaya Master Chiao Ch’ing at Kuei Yuan Temple in Hupei, and devoted the next few years to investigation of the Tripitaka and work at his teacher’s temple.

      When he was twenty-eight he went to study with the Venerable Master Tse Hang, and during the next few years he attended upon the Master; among his many undertakings there was the establishment of a Pure Land Bodhimandala. In the following years he studied with many famous Masters including T’ai Hsu, Yuan Ying, Yin Kuang and others. He traveled with the Elder Master Pai Sheng to Pao Tung Temple where he went into seclusion for three years, and later went on a pilgrimage to P’u T’ou and Chiu Hua Mountains, the bodhimandalas of Avalokitesvara and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattvas. At the Venerable Master Tse Hang’s request he held positions in institutions of learning and when he was thirty-nine became Abbot of Tusita Temple.

      When he was fifty he left the mainland China and went to Taiwan where he lectured Sutras and helped the Master Tse Hang set up his training center. Shortly thereafter he decided to establish Hai Hui Temple, which opened in 1952. He has explained many different Sutras over the past years, and has held numerous summer sessions for the investigation of the Buddhadharma at Hai Hui Temple. He has traveled widely in Buddhist nations, and visited the historic shrines of Sakyamuni. When he was sixty-five he was made President of the Chinese Buddhist Association.

      The Venerable Master Tao Yuan has served as an Elder at many transmissions of the Great Precepts of the Thousand Buddhas. On his seventieth birthday, the transmission of the precepts was held at Hai Hui Temple. There he was Precept Master to many disciples including the first Americans to be ordained in the orthodox tradition of Buddhism, Dharma Masters Heng Ch'ien, Heng Ching, Heng Shou, Heng Yin, and Heng Ch'ih, all of whom returned to America and are now engaged in the first orthodox transmission of the precepts in Western history.