Upasaka Chou Kuo Li

      Upasaka Chou Li-ren was born on July 18, 1918 at Liao-ling Shen. His mother was a Buddhist who faithfully bowed every morning and evening to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Influenced by his mother's dedicated example, Upasaka Chou began to feel special affinities with the Dharma at an early age. After graduating from Normal School in Shen Yang Shih, Upasaka Chou went on to attend Northeastern University. Later he worked as a teacher and as an accountant.

      When Upasaka Chou met Tsang Kuang-en (Kuo Kuan) (See VBS #59 pg. 33, and #60 pg. 49) and Hsu I-chun (Kuo Ta) (see VBS #38 pg.27) he began to learn about Buddhism in earnest. They gave him a copy of the Venerable Master's biography and he was deeply moved. Realizing from what he read that the extent of inconceivable states possible in Buddhism knows no bounds, is unfathomable and ineffable, Upasaka Chou grew to have more and more interest in and respect for the Dharma.

Late in 1974,when Hsu Kuo Ta returned from a visit to Gold Mountain and the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, she arrived in Japan full of good news about the propagation of the proper Dharma in the West. She spoke respectfully of the lofty virtue of the Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain and told how practitioners there eat one meal a day and never lie down. Her enthusiastic eyewitness account impressed Upasaka Chou and he remembered how Sakyamuni Buddha had praised Mahakasyapa for his asceticism, saying that because of his diligent practice, the Dharma would long remain in the world.

     In January of 1975, the Venerable Master passed through Tokyo on his way back to America after an extensive lecture tour through Asia at the request of Buddhists in several countries. Tsang Kuo Kuan introduced Upasaka Chou to the Master and on the fifteenth of the month Chou Li-ren took refuge with the Triple Jewel and bowed to the Venerable Master as his teacher. He received the Dharma name, Kuo Li, "Fruit of Standing on One's Own."

     During that year Kuo Li petitioned the Venerable Abbot to help him come to America so he could pursue his study of the Dharma under the Master's guidance. The Master approved and with Dharma Master Kuan's assistance, Kuo Li arrived in America on October 1, 1975. Since that time he has been a dedicated member of the Gold Mountain Assembly, faithfully attending all sessions and Sutra lectures. Since his arrival he has been transcribing the Venerable Abbot's lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra in order to repay the Master's kindness. To date he has finished the Preface and Prologue by National Master Ch'ing Liang, complete with the Venerable Master's lucid commentary.