Bhikkhuni Dr. Yang Li


Bhikkhuni Dr. Yang Li of China is the Abbess of Pau Chi Temple. She is the 50th successor of the Caodong sect of Zen, and is the first Bhikkhuni Abbess of the Cao Shan Temple in its thousand year history.

She was born into a Buddhist family in the ancient city of Changan which has a deep Buddhist root. She began learning the art of acupuncture from her ancestors when she was only 4 years old, and started treating and helping patients when she was just a child.

As a laywoman, she was devoted to undertaking charity work. Since 1986, she served as the Acting-Deputy Director General of the Hong Kong Gracious Glory Foundation. During this time, she devoted herself to medical charity work. She once raised 50 million dollars for the treatment of persons with congenital heart disease. She cured 1093 persons. Also, she enabled those living in remote areas to receive vaccinations for infectious diseases. She travelled to the Gannan area of Tibet to equip all the doctors with motorcycles and refrigerators for the vaccines and gave them money each month for gasoline. As a result, the herdsmen and women were able to receive basic vaccinations for the first time in their lives and the incidence of infectious diseases drastically declined.

After ordination, she took refuge in Venerable Yi-Chan in order to follow the Wei-Yang sect lineage and strove to revive the thousand year-old Zen Temple. She rebuilt the monastery, hung the bell in the Zen hall, and practiced meditation in the Cao Shan tradition. She established the Caodong Buddhist Institute to educate faithful monastics with Buddhist scriptures. She developed Zushi Zen with an emphasis on both Zen Literature and Zen Farming. She re-established the precepts for the ancient temple and enabled the Caodong lineage, which has the most followers in the world, to shine in solemn and sacred glory once again.

Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Yang Li also established the Jianxi Caodong Charity Organization which dedicates itself to the protection and preservation of the temple, culture and historical relics, provides for the elderly, and offers continuing education to unemployed women and students who have dropped out. Cao Shan Baoji Temple is now a new monastery for women and practitioners of modern Buddhism. It improved traditional farming by creating Zen Farming which develops and distributes local organic produce to nearby villagers and disciples and shares profits with them. Her Zen Literature materials disseminate the Buddha’s teachings in a relaxed and vivid way. She also applies Zen to a series of handicrafts and gifts to let the Buddha’s teachings enter the artistic life of modern people.