Our Founder Master Sheng Yen
“The Dharma is so good, yet so few people know about it and so many people misunderstand it.” It was based on this simple belief that Venerable Master Sheng Yen founded Dharma Drum Mountain. Named as one of the fifty most influential people in Taiwan during the past four hundred years, Venerable Master Sheng Yen called himself “an itinerant monk pressing ahead through the wind and snow,” and has had a life full of miseries, deprivations, tests, and turning points.
Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA) is a U.S. based non-profit organization committed to serving humanity by working to relieve human suffering – physical, emotional and spiritual. Its founder and spiritual leader is the renowned teacher of Chan Buddhism, Master Sheng Yen.
After receiving a doctorate in Buddhist studies at Rissho University, Japan in 1975, Master Sheng Yen embarked on his mission of bringing the Dharma to the West. Soon after arriving in New York City in 1976, he began to hold Saturday meditation classes which attracted a number of students. From this nucleus of mostly Western as well as Asian disciples, Master Sheng Yen later established the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens, New York. At CMC, members and newcomers could learn Buddhist theory and meditation, attend meditation retreats, participate in weekend open houses, and cultivate Dharma friendships.
In 1994, as CMC grew in breath and scope, Master Sheng Yen established Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association to further the teaching of Buddhism in the West and for international programs. Since then, nearly 31 DDMBA chapters have been started in the USA.
In 1997 the Master founded the Dharma Drum Retreat Center, in upstate New York, a multi-structure complex within 130 acres of beautiful woodlands. Students from all over the world come to attend retreats.
DDMBA has grown over the years and is a leader in making Buddhist meditation and practice more accessible in the West. Since 2000, Master Sheng Yen has led DDMBA to an expanded role in interfaith dialogue, peacebuilding, protecting the environment, and developing youth leadership.