About the Western Chan Fellowship
The Western Chan Fellowship is a UK registered charity, an association of Western lay Chan (Chinese Zen Buddhist) practitioners. Our principal activities are:
- Organising and leading intensive silent meditation retreats
- Coordinating our network of meditation groups
- Publishing our journal New Chan Forum, which includes a wide range of articles such as Dharma Talks, Retreat Reports, Discussion Articles and Critical Comment, Poetry, and more.
The Western Chan Fellowship was formed in 1997 and registered as a charity in 1998. It was based on a network of local groups which formed following the first teaching visit to the UK in 1989 of the Venerable Chan Master Dr Sheng Yen. Before his retirement Chan Master Sheng Yen was the Abbot of two monasteries in Taiwan and head of the Institutes of Chung Hwa Buddhist Culture in Taiwan and New York.
Master Sheng Yen visited the UK four times and passed on to us a view of the Dharma (teaching) based on his experience in both the main lineages of Chan - Linji (Rinzai) and Caodong (Soto). He was a second-generation teacher in the lineage of the Great Master Hsu-yun who did so much to restore Chan to China in the early years of the 20th century. Master Sheng Yen also trained in Japan following the tradition of Harada Roshi, from whom several lineages of American Zen are currently descended. In Japan he also received a doctorate in Buddhist studies and was a much-respected scholar. In attempting to transmit the wisdom of Master Sheng Yen, we have a tradition on which we can rely. John Crook received Dharma transmission from Master Sheng Yen in 1993, as did Simon Child in 2000, and thus both are fully authorised teachers in the same lineages.
The Western Chan Fellowship retreats are supported by a number of local groups which hold periodic meetings for meditation practice. The evening meetings are linked to both informal local day retreats led by the local group meditation instructors, and to more disciplined and intensive residential retreats held at Maenllwyd. An introductory retreat, the Western Zen Retreat, is recommended before participation in a full Chan retreat.
The links on the left will inform you about our history and constitution, our Teachers and membership, and also there are contact details, news, and an image gallery.