Taiwan: Revered Monk Dies at 80
Below is an article published by: AFP
TAIPEI (AFP) — Venerable Master Sheng-yen, one of the most respected Buddhist monks in Taiwan, died Tuesday [3 February 2009] aged 80, his temple said.
Sheng-yen, who had kidney disease, died at around 4:00 pm (0800 GMT) at the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist complex in northern Taipei county, the temple said.
President Ma Ying-jeou said in a statement he was "saddened and shocked upon hearing the news" about the death of Sheng-yen, who the president said is "good at the use of language to touch people".
"The concept of spiritual conservation he advocated is not only religion but philosophy and attitude of living," Ma said, referring to the monk's relentless efforts to press for peace and a simple way of living.
In 1998 Sheng-yen was named by the popular CommonWealth Magazine among 50 people who have had the greatest influence on Taiwan over the past 400 years.
As a Buddhist Zen school master, he taught a number of celebrities, including Chinese martial arts actor Jet Li as well as Lin Hwai-min, founder and artistic director of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.
The master was born in China's eastern Jiangsu province and became a Buddhist monk at the age of 14. He joined the Kuomtiang army in 1949 and fled to Taiwan with the Kuomintang troops after they were defeated by the Chinese communist forces at the end of a civil war.
He became a monk again in 1959 and trained in solitary retreat for six years in southern Taiwan. He completed a master's degree in 1971 and doctorate in Buddhist literature in Japan in 1975. He became Abbott of Nung Chan Monastery in suburban Taipei in 1979 and in 1989 founded the International Cultural and Educational Foundation of Dharma Drum Mountain.