Guo Yuan Fashi is a Buddhist monk trained in Chan Buddhism. In 1985 he first encountered Master Sheng Yen’s teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Chan tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. For over twenty years, he accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng Yen in various Chan meditation retreats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico.

He studied Theravada Buddhism for a year in Thailand in 1991. Upon returning from Thailand, Guo Yuan Fashi was elected abbot of both the Chan Meditation Center (CMC) in Queens and the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC) in Pine Bush, New York. His responsibilities included attending interfaith services, teaching meditation, and giving lectures on Buddhism. In 2006 he became the director of the International Chan Retreat Center in Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. In 2016 he returned to Pine Bush to become once again the abbot of DDRC. Fluent in Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, he leads Chan retreat in many countries around the world.

Transcript – History

My name is Gou Yuan Fa Shi. I was born in Vietnam in a Chinese family. My mother was very much a devoted Buddhist. But for our family, he never tried to, you know, force ourselves to believe in Buddhism. I remember when I was, you know, a kid and when she went to go to the temple, she bring me along and I was kind of playful in the temple, looking at the the paintings, the pictures, some of the drawing was very, very nice. You know, a few of them, you know, hanging on the wall with that golden color. It’s really nice and very fine. You know, the strokes very fine. And I kind of appreciate that. That’s one thing that I remember in in visiting the temples and everyone in the temple is, you know, it was not the big temple, just a small place, a place kind of very nice, you know, to to me, especially the elders, women. And I were just, you know, hanging around and playing and, you know, whatever they do with it. I didn’t know much, but that gave me a good memory about it when I was in the temple. I feel very comfortable. But as I grew up, I didn’t know much about Buddhism. And once in a while I heard something that my eldest brother was saying that he didn’t know. You know, like the sutra that that my mom was reciting. Actually, just a kind of storytelling, you know, from from what and what and what’s going on and things like that. So he didn’t say anything about the teaching within the sutra. Say maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe my mom was reciting the Amitabh, the Buddha suggests and in there was talking about the Western plan. But. But he did not mention, you know, my elder eldest brother did not mentioned about, you know, the teaching within there. So so it here and there. I picked up some information, but it did not really influence me much. But at that time it was the war was going on, the Vietnam War was going on. So I was lucky enough, our family was lucky enough that we were able to, first of all, transferred to to Taiwan and then stayed there for a year. And then we we we all go to Canada and when I was in Canada, the first thing that I feel was like, I really appreciate Canada very much feeling freedom during free in a country that is very much welcoming for us right. And so I studied there. I went to college and but after graduation, I worked. And along the way, somehow I feel the time that I was in Vietnam, that the war was going on. And, you know, whatever that I encounter in Canada, I feel like, oh, something still lacking is not really fulfilling for my life. And once in a while, at the workplace is some problem happens. And then dealing with people had been my own up and down emotion of the things happening. And somehow it just it’s I just feel like it’s it’s not enough for me.

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