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Lu Sheng-Yen (盧勝彥, Lú Shèngyàn) (born 27 June 1945), commonly referred to by followers as Master Lu is the founder and spiritual leader of the True Buddha School, a new Buddhist sect with teachings taken from Sutrayana and Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism), as well as Taoism. Master Lu has declared himself to be Living Buddha Lian Sheng (蓮生活佛, Liansheng Huófó) and is revered by his disciples as a Living Buddha.

His organization says that over five million students have taken refuge as disciples under Lu. There are also more than three hundred local chapters of the True Buddha School, including thirty major temples, such as the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Redmond, Washingtonmarker, where he resides presently. The majority of his disciples hail from Taiwanmarker, Singaporemarker, Indonesiamarker, and Malaysiamarker.

Lu is married to Lian Hsiang, who is also a vajra master, and is referred as Grand Madam Lu. Lu and Lian Hsiang have two children.

Life

Born in Chiayi County, Taiwanmarker in 1945, Lu was raised a Christian, attending a Protestant school. His post-secondary education was at Chung Cheng Institute of Technology, and he graduated with a degree in Survey Engineering. In his early twenties he was both a survey engineer and a Sunday school Bible teacher.

He has written that his epiphany came in 1969 when he had a mystical experience, leading him to seek out a total of twenty-one human gurus in Taoism, Sutra, and Tantra. In 1982, Lu and a small following of his disciples moved to the United States, and lived in the state of Washington.

To date, Lu has written over 200 books in Chinese on various topics, including feng shui and poetry.

According to his website, he went into retreat in Tahiti for six years starting late 2000 and lived in Taichung, Taiwan. Today he lives in Redmond, Washington.

Teachings

Lu teaches the Mahamudra method of attaining Buddhahood. His teachings follow the traditional stages of the practice of the Four Preliminaries, followed by Guru Yoga, Deity Yoga, the Vajra Practices, and finally Highest Yoga Tantra. Lu has written that his spiritual gurus included the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and Tai Situ Rinpoche.

He describes the state of enlightenment using the allegory of Padmakumara, whom he identifies with Amitabha Buddha and his own enlightened self.

According to Noah Casey, Lu's teachings do not prohibit the consumption of meat and alcohol (as do some sects in Vajrayana); however, "The consumption of alcohol is limited to quantities not resulting in intoxication, and the eating of meat is restricted to animals not butchered especially for the person consuming. Before consuming either of these, or any other nutritional substance, a special prayer is required. For meats, the spirit of the animal must be delivered." However, this is seen as contradiction, in comparison with traditional Pure Land Buddhist teachings.

Controversies

The True Buddha School has, in recent times, been criticized by six major Buddhist organizations in Malaysia and many other Buddhist organizations in Taiwan and Hong Kong as a cult and as a breakaway from orthodox Buddhist teachings.

Lu made headlines during an investigation by the Washington Statemarker Public Disclosure Commission into his cash donations to then-Governor Gary Locke, who Lu had hoped would run for the White Housemarker. Locke was cleared of any wrongdoing by the commission in 1998. Further, this did not affect Locke in his pursuit for confirmation as the current U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

He was also sued in civil court by a former disciple, a 41-year-old Malaysian immigrant over allegations of sexual misconduct, after the King County, Washingtonmarker prosecutor declined to file charges for lack of evidence. The case was dismissed by King County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Learned citing constitutional issues. In the case S.H.C. v. Sheng-Yen Lu, the Superior Court of King County granted the Temple's motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals later "affirm[ed] the trial court's grant of summary judgment dismissing all claims against the Temple." The school has recently re-addressed this matter in the hopes of closing the case.

After a meeting in November 1996 with the Dalai Lama and a meeting with the 100th Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Lu asserted that both the Dalai Lama and Ganden Tripa Rinpoche had endorsed him as an authority in Tibetan Buddhism. This was rebutted by sources close to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsalamarker, who asserted that it was merely an individual meeting. His claims that he has millions of disciples have also been heavily questioned by Tibetan sources, as well as his claim to have attained lineage from various Tibetan lineages. The source also dismissed claims made by Lu that he had been afforded an audience of between 1500 and 2000 lamas upon a 1996 visit to Tibet and Indiamarker. Since then, Tibetan monasteries have been advised to avoid contact with Lu, so as to diminish the possibility that they could be misrepresented for his own benefit.

Lu has also gained attention for his opulent lifestyle, with his vehicle being a Rolls Royce.

He has been criticized by Tsering Phuri, the president of TIBETcenter, who said "People should not say, `I am a living Buddha'".

Notes

  1. Lu, Sheng-yen. Who is Sheng-Yen Lu
  2. Rev. Pi Yan (2006). Grand Master and Grand Madam visited LSCT Temple Chicago Chapter on Nov 11, 2006
  3. True Buddha News (Edition 609, page 2)
  4. Lu Sheng-yen. Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra, ch. 2
  5. Lu Sheng-yen. Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra, preface
  6. Lu Sheng-yen. The Emergence of Padmakumara
  7. Casey, Noah. The True Buddha School: A Field Research Report on The Chan Hai Lei Zang Temple
  8. Anderson, Rick. Sex and the buddha in the Seattle Weekly, September 5, 2001.
  9. S.H.C. v. Sheng-Yen Lu


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