Venerable Master Shen-Kai
Founder of Buddhahood Lineage World Humanity Vehicle
(Jen Chen) Buddhism
Venerable Master Shen-Kai was born in 1918 in China. From an early age, he showed extraordinary wisdom and compassion beyond his years. At the tender age of five, he was able to treat illnesses with herbal remedies. By the time he was seven, his advanced literary ability and insight were evident; standing on Lotus Mountain with his school teacher, gazing over the lands below, he spontaneously composed a piece of poetry which described ‘seeing through the illusion of worldly life’. He was enlightened at twelve. In the years that followed, he rapidly advanced through his formal education and graduated from Zhejiang University. By the age of twenty, he was head of a county.
Venerable Master Shen-Kai was a tranquil and humble person who radiated natural warmth that put people at ease. In his youth, he studied many religions and was so deeply inspired by Buddhism that he became a monk. He devoted his life to rejuvenating Buddhism and creating bliss for humanity. He advocated that as human beings, we must purify our mind, enhance our pure awareness, unfold our wisdom, be upright and moral in our conduct and practise the Bodhisattva Way as the foundation for our quest towards Supreme Enlightenment. Thus, he dedicated his life to promoting Humanity Vehicle (Jen Chen) Buddhism as expounded by Śākyamuni Buddha. Being the first in modern times to have done so, Venerable Master Shen-Kai is honoured as ‘The Founder of Buddhahood Lineage World Humanity Vehicle Buddhism’.
The Venerable Master’s wisdom was much sought after and he travelled widely to impart Buddhist teachings. Rather than speaking on a particular topic, he adopted the unique Question and Answer approach with the audience so that he could guide them according to their conditions and levels of understanding. With his profound wisdom, he conveyed the Dharma with such simplicity and clarity that people were quickly awakened to its very essence. Thus, he struck a powerful chord with audiences everywhere. People were filled with joy, illumination and an inspiration to cultivate themselves to unfold their own wisdom through practice of the Bodhisattva Way.
The Venerable Master penned more than a hundred books on Buddhist practices and established Jen Chen Buddhism Centres in America, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan. To this day, his books and magazines on Humanity Vehicle Buddhism continue to be published and received globally. Through his literature, he taught that the culture of Buddhism
is in fact a human bliss culture. In gratitude of his dedication in bringing a bliss culture to humanity, Venerable Master Shen-Kai is also revered by many people across nations as the ‘Bodhisattva of Bliss’.
The Venerable Master’s compassionate vows were magnanimous and far-reaching. He vowed to return to this world lifetime upon lifetime to guide humanity to purify their mind, unfold their intrinsic wisdom-awareness and attain enlightenment and liberation so as to forever part from suffering and embrace lasting happiness. He hoped that many Bodhisattvas-to-be will be inspired to join in the effort to bring about a bright and blissful pure land for all and to welcome the birth and supreme enlightenment of Maitreya Bodhisattva, the next Buddha.
The Venerable Master passed away in August 1996 at the age of 78 in Los Angeles, USA. To this day, many people across the globe continue to benefit from his wisdom, and inspired by his compassionate vows, many of his disciples have vowed to walk in his footsteps to be a lamp of wisdom upon themselves and others.
His great compassionate vows
There was a Buddhist parable: One day, a dense forest was gripped by the ravages of a massive fire. A little bird who lived there was very anxious seeing homes being destroyed and thousands of animals rapidly being decimated. Without any concern for itself, it wet its body in a nearby lake and flew over the flames shaking the beads of water from its feathers. Over and over again, it repeated this action, desperately trying to douse the fire to save as many lives as possible. This compassionate act so deeply moved the heavenly King Śakra that he descended to the earth and said to the little bird, “Do not persist in this foolish act. How can your tiny beads of water put out this huge fire? You are better off fleeing for your own life!”
The little bird replied, “But countless creatures in the forest are facing immediate prospect of being burnt to death! I will not stand idly by and do nothing about it even if it means losing my precious life in attempting to put out the fire!”
Venerable Master Shen-Kai said, “There is moral decay in our world today and human minds are leaning toward evil. Not only do the flames of delusion and negativity in our minds burn us continuously, but it also harms others. Thus, the cries of people suffering are everywhere on earth. I cannot bear to see the anguish and fear of people being scorched and burnt in the inferno. Thus, I vow to uphold Śākyamuni Buddha’s teachings and continue the sacred mission of Buddha to actively promote the teachings of Humanity Vehicle (Jen Chen) Buddhism so as to benefit all sentient beings. Although my personal strength is insignificant, I am not willing to be a person who cares only for his personal liberation. And for now, I do not wish to be born elsewhere in Buddha pure lands. I want to emulate the spirit of the little bird. I vow to return to this Sahā world lifetime upon lifetime to practise the Bodhisattva Way in guiding people to purify their minds so that they unfold their wisdom-awareness and attain true happiness, ease and bliss through the way of ultimate liberation. I hope that my vows will also inspire many Buddhist practitioners to work together to practise the Bodhisattva Way in guiding others to purify their minds and bring about a blissful pure land for all. Together we shall welcome the birth of Maitreya Bodhisattva to this world to attain Buddhahood and bring greater benefits to all sentient beings.”