Ch’an Master Wei Li [Thich Duy Luc in Vietnamese] is of the 89th generation in the Ch’an tradition, tracing down from Mahakasyapa.
Born in 1923 in the province of Canton, China, he came to Vietnam in 1938 where he later became a school teacher of Chinese and then an Oriental medicine doctor. For 8 years, he worked at the free-of-charge medical office of Minh Nguyet Cu Si Lam Buddhist temple in Can Tho.
There was at Cu Si Lam temple a complete series of the Supplementary Tripitaka of 150 volumes. The Master wanted to read the whole series. But after one year of reading with an average of 10 hours a day, he was only able to read 7 volumes. Seeing that it would take him at least 20 years, just to complete reading the Supplementary Tripitaka, let alone the Main Tripitaka, the Master decided that he would only read the volumes on Ch’an.
In 1965, he began practicing under the guidance of Ch’an Master Dieu Duyen of the Patriarch Ch’an tradition. Master Dieu Duyen was a close disciple of the eminent Chinese Ch’an Masters Hsu Yun [Empty Cloud] and Lai Kuo for many years.
On February 8th 1973, he renounced lay life to become a Buddhist monk. His teacher was Venerable Hoang Tu, abbot of Tu An Temple in Cho Lon. On April 2nd 1977, per his teacher's request, Master Wei Li started teaching Patriarch Ch’an at Tu An Temple. In just two years, the number of people who came to attend his seven-day retreats often reached 300 or more.
In 1989, Master Wei Li came to the United States and founded Tu An Zen Temple and made yearly trips back to Vietnam to continue his teaching there.
While he was in the USA, people of different ethnic and culture backgrounds came to practice with him at the temple. Several times, he was invited by various Buddhist institutions in Canada, Australia, Taiwan and in the USA to come lecture on Patriarch Ch’an.
While he was in Vietnam, he conducted monthly seven-day retreats for monks, nuns and lay people. On a monthly basis as well, he was invited to give dharma talks at Phat Vien Dai Tung Lam Viet Nam [Vietnam Great Buddhist Training Center]. Every two months, he was asked to organize a seven-day retreat for the Center.
Master Wei Li also had an organic garden in Cu Chi where assorted vegetables were grown, using no chemical fertilizers or insecticides. He made his last trip to the USA right after the inauguration of the free-of-charge Oriental clinic he opened in Long Thanh, Dong Nai.
Master Wei Li translated from Chinese to Vietnamese and wrote commentary notes of a number of common Buddhist sutras and Ch’an essays. He also wrote several books on the practice of Patriarch Ch’an and on Buddhism in general. The titles totaled up to almost thirty.
The knowledge of the Master of Buddhist dharmas is vast, but during his dharma talks or question and answer sessions, he always led listeners and questioners back to the importance of practice. His most often repeated remark was: “All of my words have only one purpose: to help strengthen your faith so that you can practice awakening. My words are not for the sake of mere understanding.”