Chicago Enlightenment Temple -- History
In 1992, as the Vietnamese ethnic Chinese in the United States had a deepening understanding of Buddhism, a group of the Vietnamese Chinese donated funds to build a Buddhist Temple in north Chinatown close to Argyle Street where Vietnamese Chinese gathered. The temple was named the IBFA. The temple was run without monastics. In 2000, the devotees felt the difficulties to manage the business on their own. They strongly believed that a Buddhist temple should be managed by the monastics. With an opportunity, Master JiRu came along. Master JiRu is very compassionate and caring for the public. Because the original temple site was small and difficult to develop, the devotees later reached a consensus and decided to sell the original site and purchase the current site in South Chinatown (2249 S Wentworth Street, Chicago). At the same time, the temple was handed over to master JiRu and his sangha people. At that time, there were no Buddhist temples in South Chinatown. This move allows more believers to come in contact with the Buddha’s Teachings. Since the Enlightenment Temple moved to South Chinatown in 2004, the temple has more than ten years of history. The establishment and development of the IBFA relies on the support and hard work of the Chinese Buddhists.
IBFA -- Meditation Center
In the winter of 2009, all monastics of the IBFA agreed to buy a building suitable for meditation. An Orthodox church was on the market. It is in a quiet neighborhood which is very suitable for meditation practice. After purchased the building, it was renovated into a Buddhist meditation center within a month, and the Jade Buddha was enshrined in the temple. In addition, based on the compassionate spirit of Buddhism, the Chicago IBFA Meditation Center also built a columbarium for the storage of cremated ashes. It provides both single and double occupancies regardless of race or religion. Anyone can purchase the storage spaces. The meditation center will also assist in the funeral arrangement, purchase of urns, and hold memorial ceremonies every year. Meditation center’s location: 2754 Central Park Ave, Chicago IL 60623.
Master Ji Ru
Born in Malaysia, Master Jìrú studied Theravāda Buddhism and ordained in that tradition in Thailand in 1980. He later studied Chinese Buddhism and ordained in that tradition under the late great Buddhist Master Venerable Zhúmó in 1986. Master Jìrú has held several important teaching and administrative positions in the Malaysian Buddhist community, including the Vice-Chairmanship of the Buddhist Association of Malaysia Youth and religious advisor to the Sabah State Liaison Committee of Malaysia where he helped establish the “Sabah and Labuan Buddhist Educational Foundation.”
Shīfù came to the United States in 1992 to give a Dharma Talk, and shortly thereafter was appointed Abbot of Great Enlightenment Temple in New York. In 1993, he became Secretary of the Buddhist Union of New York. In 1996, he became the Vice-Chairperson of Mid-America Buddhist Association (MABA) in Augusta, MO, and formed Youth Buddhist Educational Foundation (YBEF) the following year. In 1999, he became the Abbot of MABA. In 2000, Shīfù became Abbot of the International Buddhism Friendship Association (IBFA) in Chicago. In 2002, he was appointed Abbot of Chuang Yen Monastery and Great Enlightenment Temple in New York. Shīfù held those posts for two years before returning fulltime to MABA, where he now resides.
Bhikkuni Chimiu (釋智妙) has been practicing since the age of eight when she entered into Jing Hui Yuan in Hong Kong. She received her novice vows as a nun in 1963, and her higher ordination as a Bhikkuni in 1967. She came to the United States in 1993, first practicing at Chuang Yen Monastery and The Temple of Enlightenment in New York. In 1999 she moved to MABA, where she practiced as a student of Master Ji Ru. In 2001, she moved to MABA’s sister Temple in Chicago, the International Buddhism Friendship Association (IBFA/Enlightenment Temple).
Bhikkuni Kongzheng (釋空正), she was ordained in Aug, 1989 at JiuHua Mount in China, and studied precepts for the monastics at Wuzhuo Temple in Guangzhou, China until Summer, 1991. She met Master Jiru and practiced as a student of Master Ji Ru since 1994. She started her Buddhism education in MinNan Buddhist College in 1991 and graduated in 1996. She was the Dean and a lecturer at ZhongDe Buddhist College ( A branch of the MinNan Buddhist College), in Fujian Province between 1997 and 2001. She immigrated to USA in 2002 and lived in Mid-America Buddhist Association at the beginning. In 2009, she moved to MABA’s sister Temple in Chicago, the International Buddhism Friendship Association (IBFA/Enlightenment Temple).
Kōngyán is originally from Malaysia. She first learned about Buddhism in 2002 after reading “The Way to Buddhahood” by Venerable Master Yinshun. Her interest in Buddhism quickly flourished and she subsequently took refuges and precepts in December 2003. She has an undergraduate degree from Malaysia, a Master’s degree in Forest Molecular Genetics from Michigan Technical University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Plant Science from Washington State University as of May 2012. As Venerable Kongyan became more serious in learning Dharma, the interest of joining the Sangha in order to practice and share dharma with others slowly began to emerge. Consequently, she moved to MABA to practice here after completing her Ph.D. study. She was ordained in September 2012 as a novice and finished taking her full Bhikkshuni ordination on December 2014 in Taiwan.