Pursuit of the Noble Truth
Master Zhen-Ru has been contemplating questions about life and death since childhood. She was born to a scholarly family in the Heilongjiang province of China, and as soon as she was able, she began the long journey of seeking Dharma teachers for the answers to her questions. Her footprints have covered Mount Wutai, Mount Putuo, and every major monastery on the Tibetan Plateau. She closely followed important Buddhist scholars and Rinpoches who transmitted numerous precious teachings to her including Entering the Middle Way, Ornament of Clear Knowledge, Four Hundred Stanzas, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo), The Medium Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, The Easy Path –Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Great Treatise’ Four Interwoven Annotations, and Presentation of Tenets: A Precious Garland.
Golden Days of Relying on the Teacher
Subsequently she encountered Master Jih-Chang’s recorded teachings on Lamrim Chenmo, and immediately found exceptional veneration and unwavering faith in the Master. Despite unfavorable conditions, she travelled to meet Venerable Jih-Chang in-person and received unreserved and profound instructions from the highly respected Buddhist master. Venerable Jih-Chang then began to repeatedly express his wish to hand-over the Bliss and Wisdom organization to her and bestowed her with the Dharma name Zhen-Ru. During his final years, Master Jih-Chang defied the frailties of old age and frequently flew to mainland China to give personal instructions to Master Zhen-Ru. Together they formulated the future development of the various religious, educational and charitable entities.
Becoming a Good Teacher
Despite hardship, Master Zhen-Ru has abided by late Master Jih-Chang’s instruction and has dedicated herself to developing Buddhist education for monastics and laypeople, along with many other virtuous undertakings since 2004. She has devoted all her efforts to virtuous activities following her dear teacher’s footsteps. Her efforts furthering the integration of the Buddhist principles into day-to-day application in the body, mind and spirit have never stopped. Her stay in Canada in recent years has encouraged her to advocate even more for the combination of concepts and daily-life practices, and she has shared this spirit of mindfulness with international communities. She has high hopes that the practical methodology of Buddha’s teachings of compassion and wisdom could be widely adapted to improve the lives of those in any culture. Now, over one thousand Buddhist monks and nuns have enrolled under Bliss and Wisdom monasteries, and there are over seventy thousand lay followers in the Lamrim study groups worldwide. She has endeavoured to abide by Venerable Jih-Chang’s aspiration to promote altruism and ethical human relationship through studying Buddhist classics and commentaries, learning ethical disciplines and actualizing virtuous undertakings.
A Leader who Aims to Serve
Chairperson of Tse-Xin Organic Agriculture Foundation (TOAF) Mr. Shi-Yuan Lai remarks
“Having inherited her late Master’s spirit, Master Zhen-Ru is endowed with a modest and persistent attitude and has led the entire organization to make an all-out effort.”
TOAF, based on the belief of co-existence of all beings in harmony, has successfully led the campaign of organic conversion throughout Taiwan during the past two decades. The Leezen stores, Taiwan’s leading organic chain, rely on the philosophy of “mutual trust and collaboration” in place of the competition commonly found in ordinary business world. Coupled with the support of volunteers, the TOAF has become established role model for the social enterprise movement.
Building the Apex of Pyramid
Abbot of the Fong Shan Monastery (Taiwan) Venerable Ru-Zheng also highly reveres Master Zhen-Ru for establishing a complete monastic study program for the sangha community under extremely difficult conditions. Through extensive recitation, reading, contemplation, and dialectics, the monastics deepen their understanding of a great volume of Buddhist classics, such as: Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Lamrim Chenmo, Nan-Shan Precepts, Valid Cognition, Ornament for Clear Knowledge, Madhyamika, Treasury of Knowledge, and Monastic Discipline. There are also studies of the precepts for novice monks, monastics, and Bodhisattvas, which allow them to follow strict ethical discipline to foster austere monastic attitudes. Abbot Ru-Zheng remarks
“This is an epoch-marking methodology of Buddhist meditation curriculum and study program by integrating the essence and traditions of both Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. This is also realization of the compassionate aspiration of late Master Venerable Jih-Chang.”
Establishments across the Globe
For the international Buddhist community, Master Zhen-Ru established the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS) in British Columbia, Canada in 2006, and further expanded with the large retreat center in Prince Edward Island in 2009. She has been named the Honorary Chairperson since 2011. Currently, there are approximately 300 monastics at GEBIS and up to 1,000 lay practitioners attend short-term retreats on the premises annually. The group she leads contributes to the local community and has received tremendous support and recognition by the local government and its people. In 2011, she founded the Moonlight International Foundation on Prince Edward Island with the purpose to promote both environmental and health concerns, as well as the well-being and harmony of contemporary lifestyles, regardless of language, culture or belief.
Words and Praises that Purify
Every year, Master Zhen-Ru gives more than 100 lectures and speeches. Moreover, she has composed over eight hundred Buddhist songs of praise which aim at purifying the audience’s mind in a profound way. Her scores have been orchestrated and performed over 15 cities and in world-class venues such as Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and National Concert Hall in Taipei. The concerts have been well received and highly acclaimed. The “Prajna: the Great Wisdom” album, one of her recent releases, won the Best Religious Music Album in the 26th Golden Melody Awards in 2015.