A pioneer and initiator of the systematic practice of Buddhism in our country, Žarko Andričević is the founder of the Dharmaloka Buddhist community and Chan Center. For four decades he has been opening paths and spaces dedicated to finding answers to fundamental existential questions through Buddhist wisdom and meditation. His teaching is easily accessible, yet profound.
Born in 1955, Žarko showed interest in Eastern religions and philosophy during his early high school days. After moving to Zagreb for his studies in 1975, he began practicing martial arts and yoga. Researching the spiritual roots of these disciplines he encountered Buddhism. Two years later, he formally became a Buddhist by taking refuge in the Three Jewels at the first ceremony of this kind held in the former Yugoslavia.
Since 1983, he has been the head teacher of the Mushindokai organization, teaching kempo, yoga and Buddhism at the main venue in Zagreb and many other different branches across the country. In 1985 he started the first meditation group that systematically studied the original texts of the Pali and Mahayana canons. The first residential center, which had a library and a meditation hall, was established in 1992 for the needs of the meditation group.
That group was the starting point of the first Buddhist community in Croatia, named Dharmaloka today; as well as the Buddhist Center, opened in Zagreb in 1998. While searching for a new teacher, he met the prominent Chan Master Shifu Sheng Yen in 1996, a holder of both Chan lineages in China. The encounter with Master Sheng Yen and the living tradition of Chan Buddhism marked a major turning point both in his life and in the life of the Community as a whole.
In June 2001, on a two-week retreat in the United States, he received a rare recognition, the transmission of the Dharma from Master Sheng Yen and thus became one of his Dharma heirs in the West. This event marked the beginning of his career as a teacher and Chan Master, while Dharmaloka and the Buddhist Center in Zagreb became one of the few places in Europe where it is possible to reliably follow the path of Chan Buddhism. Žarko is an established international Chan Master — he is a regular guest teacher at the Dharma Drum Meditation Center in the US and the DDM Center in Taiwan. So far, he has led over 80 seven-day and ten-day Chan meditation retreats across Croatia, Europe, North America and Asia. He is a full member of the Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers. He continued his teacher’s mission by advocating for interreligious dialogue and an engaged attitude towards climate change by participating in numerous international conferences.
Žarko also wrote the curriculum for the internationally recognized School for Zenyoga Teachers, as well as that of the School for Dharma and Chan Teachers, which is held over the course of several years.
Chan Center Hartovski Vrh, whose construction was financed almost exclusively by his international efforts, is a gift to the future of Chan in this area — and of course a vibrant place open to anyone who wants to taste the fruits of its practice.
If you’d like to view, listen to or read the archive for some of the numerous public talks he has given so far, take a look here.