(Dateline: Los Angeles) On the afternoon of July 20, 1993, Prof. Cheng Hsi, aka Jung-yen, of Iowa State University, while nursing an illness, visited Venerable Master Hsuan Hua at Long Beach Sagely Monastery. Venerable Master asked a medical doctor to give Prof. Cheng a thorough check up.
Prof. Cheng is a native of Wen An County in He-bei Province. In his early years, he participated in the Buddhist lectures given by Prof. Gu Swei. Later on in Hong Kong he drew near to the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. They have enjoyed a close and deep friendship for over fifty years. Prof. Cheng has a whole-hearted, sincere admiration for the Venerable Master. He said, "The Venerable Master never talks about spiritual penetrations. He appears quite ordinary, yet as soon as he learns something new, he immediately puts it into practice, and that is not easy!"
After he left Hong Kong, Prof. Cheng went travelling in Asia, Europe and America. He has been a faculty member at Iowa State University for over twenty years, because his scholastic attainment in Buddhist Sutras and Chinese culture is deep and profound. Currently he is teaching classes in Chan, Chinese Literature and Philosophy. Prof. Cheng has published many books, and among them, Mr. Cheng's New Talks On Chan is the most popular.
Being upright and humble, Prof. Cheng by nature is usually cautious in speech and modest in his actions. He leads a simple and frugal lifestyle. Staying at home, he works in the bustle of the world yet he remains far away from the dust. His life is as secluded as that of a left-home monastic. He has no contact with the outside world: he writes no letters, makes no phone calls, and does not watch television.
Regarding this modern troubled world, Prof. Cheng totally agrees with the Venerable Master's reform of education and his endeavor to enlighten people's minds. For such taciturn person as he, Prof. Cheng said that the conversation he enjoyed during this visit with the Ven. Abbot surpassed the total number of words he would usually say for half a year. This also helped him recover from his sickness!