Venerable Beishi Guohan (also known as “Old Teacher Tsao”) was born in a village near Taipei, Taiwan in 1951, and got his Master degree in Geological and Geophysical Prospecting at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography in 1975. He was engaged in oil and gas exploration for about twenty years as an exploration manager for the Chinese Petroleum Corporation.
Venerable Guohan immigrated to Vancouver, B. C. Canada in 1993 and met Chan Patriarch Huikong Shengyan in 1994. He became Patriarch Sheng Yen’s disciple and investigated Chinese Chan for twelve years. Guohan focused first on the investigation of Silent Illumination Chan followed by Huatou Chan.
At the middle of 2004, Chan Patriarch Shengyan asked Guohan after a Chan retreat: “Have you joined the Retreat?”
Guohan said, “Yes! I did.”
Chan Patriarch asked, “How’s the experience?”
Guohan answered, “No good, no bad!”
Chan Patriarch said, “Not bad!”
Guohan made obeisance to the Patriarch.
Later, Patriarch Shengyan said to Guohan, “You should share responsibility in the spreading of Chan Dharma over a whole region of westerners, and let true Suddenness Chan Dharma become popularized in western countries.”
While investigating Chan, Venerable Guohan was President of the Vancouver Branch of Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association 2001– 2002, and was charged with buying a piece of land to establish the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Centre, which was completed and began operations in 2006. After that, he founded the Suddenness Chan community, “Cosmos Chan (Zen) Community”, for the purpose of deeply and widely popularizing Chan in the West, and has begun to distribute the Teachings and guide Retreats of Suddenness Chan all over the world.
Venerable Guohan often reminds Chan practitioners that “Ordinary Mind is Chan” and that they merely have to live their ordinary life with the “Ordinary Mind”. That is to say, if they can only maintain the “Ordinary Mind of Non-Abiding Awareness” at the very moment in all daily activities, then all their experiences of ordinary life are Chan, and this is exactly the life of true peace, harmony, altruism, and happiness. Meanwhile, this is genuinely the spiritual powers and their subtle functions, and also the marrow of the mind ground of Suddenness Chan. Venerable Guohan has introduced the “Ten Dream-awakening Pictures” to serve as a more detailed annotation of Suddenness Chan enlightenment. The system is introduced in an effort to let Chinese Chan’s realms of realization on the Patriarch/Matriarch path have a fuller, more complete framework.
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- “Beishi”: Chinese “卑詩”; English “British Columbia”