year of birth : 1908 | place of birth : Jiangsu, China
nationality : Taiwan
education : Minnan Buddhist Institute | occupation : Chinese Chan Master
website : Minnan Buddhist Institute
Dongchu was a Chinese Ch'an Master in Mainland China and later in Taiwan and also the teacher of respected modern-day Ch'an Master Sheng-yen. He is the 51st generation of Zen patriarch from the Caodong School. He also established several monasteries and organizations in Taiwan that continue to exist and expand to this very day, including Chung-hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture(CHIBC) and Nung Chan Monastery.
He was born in Jiangsu province, China. At his early education period, he studied with various prominent monks such as Master Aiting and Master Nanting from the Zhulin Buddhist Institute in Zhenjiang. He then pursues his study further at Minnan Buddhist Institute in Xiamen, and studied under renowned scholar-monk and modernist Master Taixu. His peers in the institute include Master Yinshun, Zhumo, and Cihang (Tzuhang) – all of whom also became influential monks.
After graduated from Minnan Buddhist Institute, Ven. Dongchu then became dean of the prestigious school Jiaoshan Buddhist Institute. At the same time, he was abbot of the Dinghui Monastery in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. Dinghui Monastery (Monastery of Samadhi and Wisdom) was a very famous Ch'an monastery in China, it stands on an island in the Yangtze River, on a hill called Floating Jade Mountain. It was first built around 194-195 CE and changed names several times before finally became Dinghui Monastery during Qing Dynasty. He also taught classes at several other Buddhist institutes, including Jingan Si(Quiet Calm) Academy in Shanghai – at which young Sheng-yen, who was studying there, first encountered him. Ven. Dongchu had a reputation as a progressive thinker who, unlike most monks at his time, wouldn't hesitate to criticize others. He was also known as a fierce teacher and his students gave him the nickname the 'Big Gun'. His paradigm was much influence by his teacher, Taixu.
He also became the first permanent council member in the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China in 1947. In 1976, Ven. Dongchu had a chance to visit his disciple Ven. Sheng-yen at New York. Ven. Sheng-yen was an abbot of a small monastery at the Bronx and he succeeded to gain a number of Western followers. They both had parted long before. Ven. Sheng-yen went to six-years solitary retreat in 1961. He then studied in Japan for some years and earned doctorate degree before arriving in United States. Ven. Dongchu died in 1977 in sitting position with no clear illness.