My Purpose as a Mentor
My name David “Listen” comes from my Chan/Zen practice, which focuses on listening clearly—inwardly and outwardly. My mentoring practice is to listen closely to you, and provide you guidance on how to engage in “life practice”.
By helping you to hear yourself—your body, ideas, emotions and your situations—on a deeper, experiential level, I allow you to discover your barriers and find your own answers and ways to engage your life in a healthy, fulfilling, and skillful way.
Due to my fluency in both English and Mandarin, as well as experience living in both Western and East-Asian culture environments, I have a unique ability to understand and help both Western and East-Asian people. (See client’s testimonials)
I currently reside in New York City and actively mentor, teach meditation, lecture, translate as well as write articles for various magazines and compose meditative music.
Mentoring Training and Experience
I was a Chan/Zen Buddhist monk for 11 years, during which time I gained extensive experience in mentoring. In addition to learning and teaching about the Chan/Zen meditation and way of life, a big part of my service as a monk was to guide people on a personal level. Often done through counseling sessions, I had the opportunity to help many people with their personal issues and general direction in life.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York , I was one of the few western monastic disciples of Chan Master Sheng Yen, having trained for 11 years from 2004 – 2015. From 2004 – 2008, I lived at the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education, Taiwan, and received a ministerial degree at the Dharma Drum Sangha University. After graduating from the seminary, I served as the counselor for the male students of the Chan Meditation Studies Department. As their mentor, I helped them to find balance a midst their transition into the monastic way of life, providing guidance on a group as well as individual basis.
After returning to the U.S., I was stationed as the Director of the Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC), NY, from 2009 to 2014. During this time I mentored and coached hundreds of volunteers, visitors, and participants. In addition to holding group discussion/communication sessions, I also held routine one-to-one meetings to counsel people individually. It was my role to assist these people in adjusting to a life of discipline, intensive meditation practice, selfless service, as well as living harmoniously with a tight-knit group. This experience of closely mentoring people helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the causes of human suffering and how to resolve them.
To broaden my understanding of Western psychology, counseling, and therapy, and to deepen my experience in mentoring, I’ve acquired a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling (M.S.Ed.) at Hunter College, NYC. I currently am a limited-permit holder of mental health counseling (MHC-LP), working as a counselor at a Behavioral Health Clinic in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The population I work with consists of Chinese-speaking people who suffer from severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or chronic forms of psychosis. This experience deeply enriches my understanding of the human condition and provides me the blessed opportunity to serve and learn from these precious people.
Over the span of my monastic life, I led, attended and assisted with numerous intensive meditation retreats in U.S., East Asia, and Europe, designed to help deepen the calm and clarity of one’s mind and balance one’s daily lifestyle. Because of these numerous opportunities to sit in silence with myself, I’ve learned how to clearly observe my own pains and obstacles, see their causes clearly, work with and gradually transform them. Having such ability, I’m able to understand other people’s issues and help them resolve theirs as well.
During these retreats, I had the opportunity to work with and study under many of Master Sheng Yen’s lineage successors, including Venerable Chi Chern (繼程法師), Zarko Andricevic, and Simon Child. Because of this, I was able to adopt aspects of their teaching style into my own practice.
Over these years of training, I simultaneously gained extensive experience in teaching meditation classes and leading meditation retreats. I led many activities at various meditation centers, as well as taught at many college campuses and private institutions. I’ve also continued to guide people in their meditation practice on an individual basis outside of retreat.
As the DDRC Director for nearly seven years, my duties included managing the Center’s operations, developing the programs and activities, and overseeing the work of the staff. During this time, I gained a lot of practical experience in how to organize and manage not only my own affairs, but those of the whole retreat center and its residents. It was on the one hand like running a small business, and on the other hand like raising a family. Now I am able to share the insights from having developed these skills, experiences, and techniques with my clients.