While Zen is most commonly associated with the Japanese tradition, many of the important Zen Teachers were not from Japan. Zen has deep roots in China and a number of Chinese Zen (or Ch’an) Masters made important contributions toward establishing Zen in the west. One of these was Hsuan Hua, whose name literally means “proclaim and transform”. Hsuan Hua taught in the west for nearly 4 decades, calling himself “the Monk in the Grave” as he never wanted fame or profit and preferred to be beneath the feet of all living beings as a stepping stone to the ground of Buddha.
Like many of the best known teachers of Zen in the U.S., he first began teaching in San Francisco in the 1960s where he translated and lectured on the Buddhist Sutras, held daily meditation sessions and became famous for fasting and praying for peace. Hsuan Hua founded the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah California, one of the first Ch’an monasteries in the United States. He also supported and helped harmonize all types of Buddhist tradition in America and would later be instrumental in helping establish the Theraveda Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley California. As well, he founded the Buddhist Text Translation Society, the Dharma Realm Buddhist University and the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, eventually ordaining over 200 people from countries all over the world.