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Meet Venerable Yifa

Venerable Dr. Yifa became a nun at Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Taiwan in 1979. She received a law degree from National Taiwan University, a MA in comparative philosophy from University of Hawaii and her Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale University in 1996.


She has been the Dean at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist College and the Provost at Hsi Lai University, Rosemead, California, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University, a lecturer at Boston University and a faculty member at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan. She taught at McGill University as the Numata visiting professor in the spring of 2005 and served as the chair of Department of Religious Studies at the University of the West in Los Angeles.


She has been granted numerous awards including “the Ten Outstanding Young Persons” in Taiwan in 1997, “Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award” in 2003 bestowed by the UN in Bangkok, and “Juliet Hollister Award” in 2006, for her contribution to the Peace and Interfaith Education. Yifa started the Humanistic Buddhist Monastic Life Program at Fo Guang Shan in 2002, and brought the program to other temples throughout China beginning in 2009. Woodenfish has allowed over 1,000 college and graduate students to experience the spiritual life in Buddhist monastery and Chinese culture in Taiwan. She also leads a group of graduate students to undertake a Sutra Translation Project, and develops the instructor pool to train the young people to teach Buddhism and meditation. 


Yifa has published a historical study and annotated translation of the Chanyuan Qinggui, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China and works dealing with current social issues “Safeguarding the Heart—a Buddhist Response to Suffering and September 11” in 2002; reprinted as “The Tender Heart” in 2007; “Authenticity— Cleaning the Junk: A Buddhist Perspective” in 2007. She is also co-author of Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict (2001), by Riverhead, NY; a contributor to the books “The Gethsemani Encounter,” “The Buddha’s Apprentices,” and “Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experience,” the latter edited by Peter Gregory and Susanne Mrozik.


Yifa is currently based in Beijing, and travels often to meet with scholars and members of the global Buddhist community. 

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