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Teaching Meditation in Malaysia, Taiwan, and America: The Transnational Career of Venerable Chi Chern

Fri, March 17, 12:45 to 2:45pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Floor: 4th Floor, Forest Hill


In the last three decades, numerous Chinese Malaysian monks and nuns went to Taiwan to receive full ordination and religious education at various Buddhist seminaries. Consequently, many of them joined the globalized Taiwanese Buddhist movements after their studies, whether or not they return to Malaysia. There are also monastics such as Venerable Chi Chern (Jicheng 繼程, born 1955) who built a transnational religious career after their stint in Taiwan. Born and ordained in Malaysia, Chi Chern received his religious training at Taiwan’s Fo Guang Shan (佛光山), and later, learned meditation from Dharma Drum Mountain’s (法鼓山) founder, Chan Master Sheng Yen (Shengyan 聖嚴, 1930-2009). Sheng Yen appointed Chi Chern as the first Dharma heir of his Dharma Drum Order of Chan. Thereafter, Chi Chern teaches Chan meditation in Malaysia and conducts annual meditation retreats for Dharma Drum Mountain’s followers in Taiwan and America. This essay uses the transnational biography of Chi Chern as a case to examine the Malaysian Chinese Buddhist community and their activities, institutions, and networks. It contends that unlike Malaysian monastics of the previous generation, the new generation of Chinese Malaysian monks such as Chi Chern have become prominent agents in the globalization of Taiwanese Buddhism. This paper will demonstrate that Chinese Malaysian monks, armed with multiple language skills, are significant propagators of Taiwanese Buddhism to the rest of the world.


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