Venerable Chan Master Hsin TaoMeet Dharma Master Hsin Tao

Born into a poor village in Lashio in a war-torn Myanmar in 1948, Dharma Master Hsin Tao became a war orphan at four and was taken in by guerrilla forces at nine as their youngest child-soldier. Fierce combat and the cruelty of war thus marred his early life and the matter of life and death, weighed upon him, a great mystery. This feeling remained with him until the day he witnessed a miracle: an Arhat flew across a vast body of water. The seed of determination was thus planted in him to follow his calling and walk the path of the Buddha.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao did not begin formal schooling until the age of thirteen, when he came to Taiwan with the final withdrawal of the KMT army from Myanmar in 1961. He first heard of sacred name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara at fifteen and was so deeply touched that he became a vegetarian overnight, started practicing meditation, and self-tattooed verses of vows that read ‘Realizing one’s Buddha Nature as the supreme offering to Guan Yin’, ‘I shall never rest until the attainment of the perfect enlightenment’, and ‘Liberating sentient beings by entering the Tathagatagarbha’ to help relieve the world’s sufferings. The Venerable Master then left home to formally become a monastic at twenty-five and took the path least traveled by choosing to practice asceticism in remote cemeteries and rundown graveyards for over a decade to confront and transcend man’s primordial fear in search of the truth of life. He later went on a two-year fast while engaged in solitary meditation to more firmly grasp what ‘Liberating sentient beings by entering the Tathagatagarbha’ conveys.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao then founded the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) WuSheng Monastery in northeastern Taiwan in 1983 to formally launch a platform to promote Buddha’s teachings and interact with the crowd of laymen. His journey from a lone-practicing monastic to embarking on the Bodhisattva’s path is based on the conviction that Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana are all Dharma teachings of Buddha and the LJM upholds compassion and Chan/Zen as its principal ideals. Venerable Master Hsin Tao enjoys a unique and highly esteemed but rarely achieved state of convergence of Triyana: from Elder Master Ben Huan he received the lineage of the LinJi School of Chan Buddhism for Mahayana, from the National Buddhist Advisor he received the Mahesh Meditation methods of the lineage of Theravada, and from His Eminent Sichen Bairo Rinpoche he received the Rinchen Terdzö empowerments and the oral transmission of Buddha's Teaching (the Long Chen Nying Thing and the Longsal Nyingpo) in its entirety from the Nyingma School. Dharma Master Hsin Tao’s unique and highly respected status in Triyana thus laid down for LJM a firm foundation and brought to it a highly venerated tradition and inheritance.

Planning for the Museum of World Religions (MWR) began in 1991. The Museum was formally opened on November 9, 2001 to assume the function of an interface for interfaith interactions. The LJM initiative of the ‘Global Family for Love & Peace’ (GFLP) was a UNESCO recognized program to promote transcending exchanges and cooperation that includes, among many such activities, a series of interfaith dialogues between Muslims and Buddhists that to-date has taken places 16 times in 11 countries: on the campus of Columbus University in the US (2002), in Malaysia (2002), Indonesia (2002), at the UNESCO offic in France (2003), in Iran (2004), Spain (2004), Morocco (2005), in Beijing, China (2006), at the NCCU campus in Taipei, Taiwan (2008), at the United Nations headquarters in NY, US (2008), in Australia (2009), India (2010), Jarkata, Indonesia (2012), Salt Lake City, US (2015), at the 1st Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue for the Youth at the UN headquarters in NY, US in 2016, and at the 6th Colloquium between Buddhism and Christianity co-organized by LJM and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Taipei in 2017. These are all examples of the efforts of Dharma Master Hsin Tao in contributing to world peace amidst religious disputes.

Venerable Master Hsin Tao led LJM followers to present the initial Dharma event of ‘Making Offerings to Provide for Ten Thousand Sanghas’ in Myanmar in 2002 to coincide with the ground-breaking ceremony for LJM’s Meditation Center there. The Dharma event has since become an annual event that attracts large numbers of pilgrims from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Europe, and America. Provisions for the four basic needs of the tens of thousands of Sanghas, robes, food, medicine, and bedding, are thus one of the major tasks for LJM every year, and Buddhist followers view the task as their opportunity to earn merits of virtue. From December 2nd to 9th, 2019, 18th Ten Thousand Monks Ceremony, held by LJM, attracted believers from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and numerous other places to come together in the Buddhist country of Myanmar. December 2 - 9, 2019 marked the 18th LJM Dharma Event of a “Grand Puja for Myriad Sanghas in Myanmar”. In his high age of 89, Ven.Bhamo Sayadaw Bhaddanta Kumara Bhivamsa made a special appearance on the occasion in his capacity as the ranking patriarch of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee
,Myanmar. On behalf of the LJM Buddhist Society, Master Jing Nian and Mr. JIANG Shih-Min made a donation for medical/medicinal purposes as a contribution to the named Central Standing Committee of Sanghas.

Research findings of a joint effort between LJM’s GFLP, the United Nation’s CWLF (Child Welfare League Foundation), and a local NPO in Myanmar in 2006 showed that 75% of the country’s villagers were living below the poverty line, with one out of every four young children below the age of 5 suffering from malnutrition. Half a year after the release of the report, a first ‘Monsoon Nursery & Daycare’ funded by the GFLP and the CWLF was launched to help look after young children as their parents were busy farming. The nursery/daycare was in service 24/7 and children had milk and warm food for two of their daily meals, with supervised learning and play, as well as health and hygiene care. The project greatly improved the immediate environment critical to the development of health and intellect of young children in the formative phase of their childhood.

Also in 2006, another key project by LJM’s GFLP materialized as the echo farm at Naung Mon in Lashio in the northern part of the Shan State of Myanmar began actual planting. Its lofty ideal has always been to create a mechanism and an eco-system that provides work opportunities to local farmers without the pressure of competition. As an eco-farm, work started with the improvement of the soil. Organic compost and liquid enzyme fertilizer were produced from leguminous greens and microbial colonies to best suit that purpose. The LJM eco-farm at Naung Mon places great value on practicality, humanity, and self-reliance. Its management refrains from willful depletion of natural resources and focuses on growing high-yield crops while giving priority to conservation to safeguard sustainability. Local farmers, therefore, learn skill sets fit for organic farming to produce the essence of oil from vetiver and lemongrass, as well as from sachi inchi (Plukenetia volubilis). Fair trade has become the farmers’ best friend for protection against multi-layered exploitation. LJM considers such practices to be the best possible demonstration of environmental friendliness.

One of the many meaningful projects Dharma Master Hsin Tao is conducting in Myanmar, the land of his birth, the School of Sramaneras at Naung Mon started operations in 2016, primarily to help offer access to education to underprivileged children in the northern regions of the country. The curriculum observes regulations stipulated by local authorities and strikes a balance between knowledge acquisition and skills learning, with the addition of courses in Buddhism in the overall syllabus for the pupils to become seeds for the future spread of love and peace. The design of the syllabus centers around Buddhism (sutra reciting in the mornings and evenings, learning the Pali language, and the studies of Dharma) in Burmese, Chinese, and English, along with the basics of language, mathematics, nature, history, and geography. Group activities such as physical education, music, calligraphy, and gardening are offered to provide a solid and balanced curriculum. Bhikkhus are their life coaches 24/7, acting as role models to help keep everything on track. The School follows the philosophy of individualized education in which cookie-cutter approaches have no place, while activity is always encouraged to energize the classes and optimize their effects. It is hoped that the ambiance and learning thus offered will prove conducive to the grooming of future Buddhist masters who are solid in their practice and respected for their mindfulness and expertise, and above all, recognized for their international foresight.

In addition to his deep commitment to charity and education in Myanmar, Venerable Master Hsin Tao also initiated the offering of a short-term ascetic retreat as quasi monastics of Theravada for Buddhist layman at the International Meditation Center of the LJM Maha Kusala Yama Monastery in Yangon. The program has become a popular and regular attraction for 7 years running, with an ever-growing following. The 7th short-term monkhood retreat in the Theravada tradition took place between November 17 and 25, 2019, and the ceremony in which the participants formally vowed to observe and practice the dictated precepts was witnessed and blessed by both Venerable Bhaddanta Dr. Kumara, the Rector of the State Pariyatti Sasana University, and Dharma Master Hsin Tao. The blissful certification ceremony was solemn as well as august.

People can improve and elevate their state of mind by practicing meditation and Dharma, but what to do about the natural calamities that batter our planet? The major typhoon that devastated Myanmar in 2008 caused serious casualties and left hundreds of thousands in dire need of drinking water, food, and medicine. Dharma Master Hsin Tao immediately activated the LJM disaster relief mechanism by making a donation of US$200,000 and dispatching a relief mission to disaster zones in Myanmar. From there onward, the voluntary LJM Medical Services Corps has since become an international delegation, frequently visiting remote countryside areas in Myanmar to offer medical aid and services and hygiene education. The escalating global warming implies an inferno for our planet, rendering world peace and ecology for sustainability our most urgent and challenging mission presently. For the Earth to experience positive changes that are long-term and impactful, it must begin with individuals and small groups of people who are dedicated to causing the butterfly effect to ultimately influence all humankind, given the fact that time is of the essence.

Toward that objective Dharma Master Hsin Tao has been toiling to build a future university for the Earth, the University for Life & Peace. It is a major undertaking that will have a tremendous impact on the world and the people in it. Yet again, Myanmar is the place designated for the future university, which will be an embodiment of the MWR’s spirit of ‘Respect, Tolerance, Love’, and an extension of the ideals of ‘Loving the Earth / Loving Peace’, to collectively promote ecology for sustainability while cultivating future promoters of peace. The future university will base its teaching focus on Chan meditation as the backbone for spiritual studies of Buddhism. It will further take for its core the ecology of spirituality and adopt a cross-domain/-discipline methodology for an integrated approach to teaching to do justice to its brand-new, issue-facing and solution-driven curriculum fit to attract elite candidates the world over. Students of the future university will be expected to have a diversified world view of love and peace and be ready to shoulder the responsibility of making sustainability possible. In sum, the future university upholds the idea that it will take education in spirituality, education in ecology, and innovation in technologies to alter the Earth’s collision course with destruction. Of these, education in spirituality will rely on the practice of Chan meditation and repentance to create an energy field that stabilizes people and ultimately, the Earth itself, to trigger the self-healing mechanism. Spiritual studies induce ecological awakenings in people to cherish our environment and to re-learn compassion by looking inward for self-reflection and self-criticism before acceptance. They further instill such realizations in people’s minds and guide their future interactions with other sentient beings and the environment. When such learning is taken to heart by everyone, the heart-warming awareness makes us whole again, and the environment around us becomes right as well. Spirituality is when we perceive and appreciate the details and the little things in life, seeing them all become beautiful again, with a touch of divinity.

The future University for Life & Peace aims at cultivating elites and scholar-monks as global citizens who love the Earth so that they finish their studies and return to where they come from to lead and expand the ‘Loving the Earth’ movement. This future university project has presently secured a government-issued license for a Buddhist university. Dharma Master Hsin Tao notes that ‘the University for Life & Peace will be a university of ecology, as ecology means a symbiosis that equals interdependent co-existence. The future university aims to exhaust the studies of ecology and make known to the people of the world what ecology, symbiosis, and interdependent co-existence and Nature and mankind are all about. It aims for people to NOT mutually destroy one another but instead to benefit all, the ecology must be protected for the symbiosis to continue. A sustainable ecology is what we choose to go for, as it is what Nature demands and depends upon. The University for Life & Peace will set out to identify what is not right with our ecology and find the right solutions for these issues.’

The Winter School 2019 as a pilot project of the future university took place in Yangon and was attended by 45 participants and faculty members from 14 countries. Courses in environmental sciences, anthropology, philosophy, neuropsychology, and economics of ecology were conducted both in lecture halls and for group discussions as well. The design of the curriculum was to benefit the Earth by creating a loop mechanism of goodness via a religious awakening so that the loop will ultimately become an ever-growing magnetic field, a field so great that the Earth’s self-healing process will be triggered. The idea was to unite spiritual care with the target academic fields to enable the establishment of a set of ‘rules of the game’ with global recognition for impact.

The Winter School program functions as a pilot project for the University for Life & Peace. The 2020 program will invite experts and scholars from 14 countries to test-run courses built around a wide-ranging but eco-centric curriculum, from applied sciences to their ecological manifestations. Put differently, the Winter School 2020 is set to map out a strategic juxtaposition for science and technology to benefit ecology for the Earth and its sustainability, a juxtaposition that makes academic discourses become physically practical and applicable. Dharma Master Hsin Tao has spared no effort in appealing to the world for the establishment of ecological ethics and environmental care and maintenance, by everyone in their utmost sincerity. There is a deep sense of urgency in Venerable Master Hsin Tao’s repeated calls for action and for people to realize, once and for all, that people and the environment are interconnected and that a brave new world will only then be possible if we join in making it a reality. This realization and awakening will never be too late, as long as we are ready to act upon it.


Award Record
Outstanding Contribution to the Propagation of Buddhism Award
( Highest Sri Lankan honor for a Buddhist Leader )

Pt. Motilal Nehru National Award for Peace,Tolerance, and Harmony

Awarded the Highest Myanmar (Burma) National honor
Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja

Received Interfaith Visionary Award from the Temple of Understanding, USA

Received the Highest Honor Award from
Theravāda Sangha (Maha Kama TaNaSaYiYa)

2nd benefactor of Buddhism Award
(Thai Royal Buddhist monastery Wat Bowonniwet Vihāra Committee )

“Mahā-ācārya Award ”
Highest honor in Myanmar
“Agga Mahā KamaTaNaSaYiYa”