"For me, the artistic approach is the middle ground to pull the academic and faith together. "

Maxwell Holden's Woodenfish Story

In 2012, I was a graduate student in region and studio art. My advisor recommended this workshop to me. I participated in the BIC (Buddhism in China) program in Shanghai, and visited about 20 temples. I I loved how Yifa packed so much into each day. I am really interested in Chinese Buddhism and want to get back to China and see Buddhist Art at a whole new level. I am planning to go back to China soon to do research on Han Dynasty religious art from 1965 onwards.

Memorable Moments from the Program 

We met many abbots of the temples. They talked to us about the cultural revolution, and the artworks at the temples. The program changed my view on Chinese art. It might just be me, but I found it fascinating to see the deterioration of temples – how they rot in certain ways that look fascinating in layers. These artworks provided me with so many inspira...

Want to hear what Woodenfish alums have said about their experiences in our programs and their spiritual/professional paths? Alumni Spotlight will introduce you to our alums and their insights!

Spencer Ballantyne's Woodenfish Story

I heard about HBMLP from a Professor at Davidson College. My father passed away a year before. I had many questions and kept asking why. I wanted answers. Through the program, I learned about living in equanimity instead of having polarized emotions, and to have this state of appreciation.

One Take-away from the HBMLP (Humanistic Buddhist Monastic Life Program)

I learned mindfulness and to extend emotional awareness and have equanimity. This emotional awareness is particularly helpful in my career path in the entertainment industry where things are often unpredictable. I try to focus on the present and retain a calm mind.

How Has Buddhism Played into Your Career?

I loved reading Zen Koans and the book The Art of Happiness. The book helps me to deal with...

Becoming a Buddhist Nun

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I had a strong desire to explore questions such as what the meaning of life is, and where humans come from and where they ultimately go. While my fellow students in junior high were working hard on preparing for the college entrance examination, I was so devoted to discovering the meaning of life that I saw the three words, meaning of life, printed in the sky when I wandered down the paths lined with coconut trees on campus. At parties, my friends discussed movies, food and boyfriends. I entered, asking them what the meaning of life was. They all said I was no fun. I was born and raised in a town named the North Port (Beigang) in Taiwan, where traditional worship of MaTsu was passed down from generation to generation. However, I did not identify with any religious beliefs.

Determined to become a judge and strive for social justice and fairness since I was little, I enrolled in the law school of National Taiwan University i...

On August 31st, Dr. Yifa was invited to visit the Gaozun Temple, located in Deyang, Sichuan province in China to meet with the Master Jijing, and to attend the annual meeting of the Fuhuideng Educational Group. In the speech she gave to the employees and volunteers of the the Fuhuideng group about Buddhist management, Dr. Yifa shared the management wisdom in Buddhism gained from running Buddhist groups in Taiwan and internationally.

A special arrangement was also made by the Fuhuideng group for Dr. Yifa to have an in-depth discussion with Master Jijing. Both are students of Master Xingyun, and advocates of science, technology and education. Dr. Yifa and Master Jijing shared their understanding about the ideas of Humanistic Buddhism  proposed by Master Xingyun and reached an agreement for future collaboration. Dr. Yifa emphasized that instead of any individual Buddhist master, Buddhist followers belong to the whole of Buddhist society, as well as non-Buddhist society. “The Buddhist pract...


After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Administration from Tilburg University, Netherlands and Masters’ Degree in Finance from Erasmus Universit