Bhikshuni Heng Chih
On 19 June 1969, Heng Chih was initiated in Buddhist monastic life as a novice nun by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco, California, USA. Master Hua then arranged for his first five monastic disciples to travel to Taiwan to participate in an ordination platform, and on November 1969, Heng Chih became a fully-ordained Buddhist nun. Thirteen years later, she was granted permission to receive ordination a second time at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, with Master Hua presiding as Precept Transmitting Master.
She is a founding member of the Buddhist Text Translation society and has served on various of the four committees in helping prepare English publications of texts and Master Hua’s commentaries for the Shurangama Sutra, the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Earth Store Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the Hundred Dharmas Shastra, the Shurangama Mantra Verses, and for the Preface, Prologue and some chapters of the Avatamsaka Sutra.
She was awarded a B.A. upon entry and earned M.A. and Ph.D in Translation at Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU).
She is a professor on the teaching faculty of DRBU and was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, teaching Buddhist Philosophy from 2008-2013.
Over the years, she has been a resident monastic at several of DRBA’s branches in Canada and the United States, a visiting monastic in DRBA’s Asian branches, and currently serves as Monastic Advisor at Gold Coast Dharma Realm, Australia.
Bhikshuni Heng Hsien
Bhikshuni Heng Hsien became a monastic disciple of the late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in 1970, and was fully ordained as a Mahayana Buddhist nun during a Frontier Ceremony held in San Francisco in 1972. She joined the DRBA (then SABA) Board of Directors in that same year, and continues as a Director to the present. When Dharma Realm Buddhist University was founded in the mid-1970s, Heng Hsien also joined the DRBU Board, and is now an Honorary Trustee. She was an early DRBU Professor and has held such positions as Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. She is now Professor Emerita and continues to live on campus.
Heng Hsien’s interest in translation began at Berkeley High School where she did a senior thesis on Roman translation of Greek philosophical texts into Latin. She earned a B.A. from UC Berkeley in Comparative Literature (emphasis in French and Latin), and an M.A. in Mediterranean Studies from Brandeis. Her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley is in South and Southeast Asian Studies with an emphasis on Sanskrit Buddhist Texts. She has taught Sanskrit along with many other subjects at DRBU, and composed a book-length set of Sanskrit lessons on the Amitabha Sutra that appeared in sequence in the Buddhist journal Vajra Bodhi Sea. These lessons are now published online and used in DRBU classes. Additional positions she has held include President of the Vajra Bodhi Sea Publication Society.
From the earliest days as a disciple of Venerable Master Hua, Heng Hsien has tried to combine both study and practice and also bring the teachings of the Buddha and the succession of Buddhist Masters into the West. This has meant participating in all aspects of the work of BTTS, often as adviser on Sanskrit and other technical matters, but also as a primary translator, oral interpreter, reviser, polisher, editor, certifier and proof reader. In her early decades with BTTS, she was involved in virtually all the translations published by BTTS, when everyone worked together and task boundaries merged. She is still working to complete specialized translation and publication of Venerable Master Hua’s lectures on the Preface and Prologue to the Flower Adornment (Avatamsaka) Sutra and that Sutra’s Ten Grounds Chapter.
Dr. Ron Epstein
A graduate of Harvard University, the University of Washington, and the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Ron Epstein has a Master’s degree in Chinese language and literature and a doctorate in Buddhist Studies. He is currently chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus at Dharma Realm Buddhist University, and a lecturer emeritus at San Francisco State University. He was previously co‑chair of the Review Committee of the Buddhist Text Translation Society and a member of the Board of Trustees of both Dharma Realm Buddhist University and the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. He is currently a member of the Editorial Committee of the journal Religion East and West.
When he was 24, he commenced his long term study and practice of Buddhism with the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua (Xuanhua), who awarded him the title Fojiao Jiaoshou (“Professor of Buddhism”) in 1968 and appointed him a chancellor of Dharma Realm Buddhist University in 1988.
He has also been a translator of Buddhist texts and written extensively on a wide range of subjects. Among his book-length publications are The Śūraṇgama Sutra: A New Translation with Excerpts from the Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua (co-chair, translation committee); Buddhist Text Translation Society’s Buddhism A to Z (compiler); the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 39, Part VIII, with the Commentary of Tripitaka Master Hua” (principal translator); and The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra with the No Stand Gatha Explanation and Prose Commentary of Gold Mountain Tripitaka Master, Sramana Hsuan‑hua (principal translator).
Although his main area of expertise is Buddhist studies, he also taught about environmental and animal ethics. In addition to his Buddhist writings and translations, he has written extensively on the dangers of GMOs. In Mendocino County, he was a co-sponsor of Measure H, which bans the growing and raising of GMOs in the county. He has also been a vocal advocate of local campaign reform, and is a co-founder of CARE (Compassion for Animals Respect for the Earth.
David Rounds took refuge with the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua in 1971 as one of the early generation of American disciples. At the Master’s suggestion he began working on the English side of Sutra translation, and over the years he has edited many English language publications of the Buddhist Text Translation Society. Adding cumulative Chinese recognition to his English skills, he actively used both languages during the research and decision-making as a member of the team that translated the recently published and quite popular revised English of the Shurangama Sutra text. From 1978 to 1987 he and his wife Sue Rounds and their son Nathaniel were among the first group of residents of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, where David was able to carry out the practices of eating one meal a day, reciting the Shurangama Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra, and regularly-scheduled bowing every third step. He has also written six books, authored many articles, and has applied his skills as a composer and lyricist to transform many parts of the traditional Chinese Buddhist liturgy into English chants and praises. When the Master completed the Avatamsaka Sutra lectures and he asked what his disciples would like to have him explain next. The Master accepted David Rounds’ formal request that the Master to explain the syllables of the Shurangama Mantra, whereupon the Master composed over 500 Shurangama Mantra verses and David Rounds is gradually applying his poetic skills to rendering these in versified English. From 2001 to 2014 he was editor of Religion East and West, the annual journal of the Institute for World Religions.