On January 24, 2022, with the approval of the "Honorary Doctorate Review Committee", Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (DILA) awarded its first honorary doctorate in Religious Studies to Venerable Chi Chern, internationally renowned Chan Master and Dean of the Malaysian Buddhist Institute, in recognition of his exemplary achievements and contributions to contemporary Buddhism. The award ceremony is scheduled to take place on April 8, 2022, during the 15th anniversary celebration of the DILA.
As a former leader of several national level Buddhist associations-- including the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Buddhist Association and Malaysian Buddhist Sangha Association--- Venerable Chi Chern leads Chan retreats in Taiwan as well as many other countries around the world. In addition, he gives talks in various Buddhist educational institutions, thus exerting a significant influence on the spread of Buddhism and Chan teachings in this modern era.
In 1985, Venerable Chi Chern personally received Dharma transmission of the lineage of Chinese Chan School from DDM founder Master Sheng Yen, becoming Master Sheng Yen’s first Dharma heir. Venerable Chi Chern has dedicated himself to promoting countless Chan practice activities in Malaysia, thereby benefiting numerous young students and the general public. In this way, he is considered a primary promoter of Chinese Chan Buddhism. In recent years, Venerable Chi Chern has guided many 7 to 49-day Chan retreats in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and several European countries, planting innumerable seeds of Chinese Chan Buddhism throughout the world.
With respect to the promotion of Buddhism, in addition to guiding advanced Buddhist studies seminars, several Buddhist youth camps, and 7-day Amitabha Buddha’s name recitation Chan retreats etc., Venerable Chi Chern is always on the lecture circuit, spreading Buddha’s teachings across different parts of Malaysia. Furthermore, he hosts talks at Buddhist societies in institutions of higher education and has even organized national Buddhist youth camps for college students, college students' Buddhist studies seminars, Buddhist teachers' camps, Buddhist teachers' studies seminars, beginner-level 7-day retreats, intermediate-level 7-day retreats, advanced-level 14-day retreats, undergraduates/graduates 7-day retreats, Chan and Pure Land group practices, etc. All these activities are still being organized and conducted annually.
Venerable Chi Chern is also a prolific author, having numerous publications whose contents cover commentaries on the sutras, Chan practice guidance, Buddhist essays, poems and stanzas etc. At the same time, he has created different works of art through the infusion of Chan into Chinese calligraphy, traditional ink paintings, Chan stanzas and Buddhist song lyrics etc., thereby contributing greatly to the spread of Buddhadharma, cultural education, and academic exchanges.
Text: Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Centre Malaysia
Photos: Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Centre Malaysia
Translation: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁)
Editing: YKL, Keith Brown