Twelfth Generation

Xinghua cunjiang baoshou yanzhao sansheng huiran tongfeng anzhu xita guangmu nanta guangyong yunju daoying qinshan wensui longya judun yuezhou qianfeng caoshan benji qinglin shiqian shushan kuangren luopu yuanan jiueeng daoqian daguang juhui xuefeng yicun yantou quanhuo guifeng zongmi Xinghua Cunjiang (830-88) was a disciple and Dharma heir of Linji Yixuan. He lived and taught in ancient Weizhou (near the Yellow River, upstream from the modern city of Jinan in Shandong Province). The Linji...

Liu Tiemo Iron Grinder

Liu Tiemo (n.d.) was a disciple of Guishan Lingyou. Little is known of the details of her life. After receiving the Dharma seal from Guishan, Liu lived a few miles away from him and would periodically come to visit. She taught Zen in a style described as precipitously awesome and dangerous. Her ability to test the true mettle of Zen adepts brought her the name Iron Grinder. Aside from her prominent appearances in cases sixty of the Book of Serenity and twenty-four of the Blue Cliff Record,...

Muzhou Daoming Chen Zunsu

Muzhou Daoming (780-877) was a disciple of Huangbo Xiyun. He lived and taught at Kaiyuan Temple in ancient Muzhou.98 Muzhou's surname was Chen. He was widely known in China by the name Honored Elder Chen. The Wudeng Huiyuan records that as a youth he went to a temple to offer incense to Buddha, and upon seeing the monks, he felt as though he had known them from some ancient time. He then returned home and received permission from his parents to become a monk. He looked unusual, with foreboding...

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A monk came to practice under Yangshan. He asked, Does the master recognize written characters Yangshan said, I recognize some. The monk then drew a circle in the air and acted as though he presented it to Yangshan. Yangshan acted as if to use his sleeves to erase it. The monk then made another circle in the air and presented it to Yangshan. Yangshan received the circle with both hands and then threw it behind him. The monk then stared at Yangshan. Yangshan looked down. The monk then walked in...

Jlufeng qln

Jiufeng Qin (n.d.) was a disciple of Zhimen Guangzuo. He lived and taught in ancient Ruizhou (the area of Gao'an City in modern Jiangxi Province). A monk said to Zen master Jiufeng Qin, I ask the master to reveal an expedient method to enter the Way. Jiufeng said, The Buddha does not fight against people's wishes. The monk said, Thank you, Master, for this expedient. Jiufeng said, You still earn blows from the staff Zen master Jiufeng entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying, No matter...

Fenyang Shanzhao Wude

Fenyang Shanzhao (947-1024) was a disciple and Dharma heir of Shoushan Xingnian. He came from ancient Taiyuan (now a place in modern Shanxi Province). Both of Fenyang's parents died before he reached the age of fourteen, so at this young age, he entered upon the homeless life of a monk. Extremely intelligent and well versed in the Confucian and other classics, Fenyang embodied the keen intelligence and wisdom that imbued the greatest masters of ancient times. He traveled widely and reportedly...

Dongshan Liangjie

Dongshan Liangjie (807-69) was a disciple of Yunyan Tansheng. He is recognized to have founded the Caodong school of Zen. This school, along with the Linji school, remains today as one of the two existing Zen schools that began in China during the Tang dynasty (618-905), the golden age of Zen. Dongshan came from ancient Huiji (in modern Zhejiang Province). A story relates how, as a youth, he read the Heart Sutra and came upon the words No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body and asked his...

Baoen Xuanze

Bao'en Xuanze (n.d.) was a student of Fayan Wenyi. Bao'en came from Weinan City in Huazhou (now in the northwest portion of Hua County, Henan Province). He first studied under a Zen teacher named Qingfeng.156 He then continued his practice under Fayan Wenyi. Upon meeting Qingfeng, Bao'en asked, What is the student's own self Qingfeng said, It's the boy of fire coming to seek fire.157 Fayan asked, Where'd you come from Bao'en said, From Qingfeng. Fayan said, What words did Qingfeng have to say...

Touzi Datong

Touzi Datong 819-914 was a disciple of Cuiwei Wuxue. He came from ancient Shuzhou in the southern part of modern Anwei Province . As a young man he left home to study under a Zen master named Bao Tangman. He first studied meditation techniques of the Anapana Sutra.113 Some time later he read the Flower Garland Sutra and proceeded to study under Cuiwei Wuxue. After his enlightenment under Cuiwei, he roamed throughout China, eventually returning to his old home and settling on Mt. Touzi. There he...

Jingzhao Mihu Mi the Seventh

The monk Jingzhao Mihu n.d. was a Dharma heir of Guishan. He taught in the ancient Chinese capital city of Jingzhao another name for ancient Changan . Mihu means Mi the Foreigner. The Book of Serenity describes him as having a wonderful beard. The Transmission of the Lamp provides some accounts of his life and teachings. When Mihu resided at Jingzhao, an old worthy asked him, Nowadays if people see a piece of broken well rope in the light of the moon they say it's a snake. I'd like to know what...

Deshan Xuanjian

Deshan Xuanjian 819-914 was a disciple of Longtan Chongxin. He came from ancient Jian Province in the north of modern Sichuan Province . As a youth he thoroughly studied the rules of the Vinaya and was an authority on the Diamond Sutra. He thus earned the nickname, Diamond Zhou. Deshan said to his fellow practitioners, It's like a feather falling into the ocean. The ocean's nature is unchanged. It's like throwing a seed against a sharp blade, the blade is not dulled by it. Whether one studies...

Lingyun Zhiqin

Lingyun Zhiqin n.d. was a disciple of Guishan Lingyou. He came from the ancient city of Changxi in Ben Province now the city of Xiapu on the coast of Fujian Province . He gained enlightenment when he saw a peach tree in bloom. He then composed a verse that gave evidence of his awakening. The lamp records offer this account. When Lingyun saw the peach blossoms, he composed a verse For thirty years I've sought the swordsman. Many times the leaves have fallen, the branches bare. After seeing the...

Moshan Liaoran

Moshan Liaoran n.d. was a disciple of Gao'an Dayu. Although little is recorded of her life and teachings, she is the primary remaining example of a prominent female teacher among the early records of the Zen school. She is known from a dialogue with a monk named Xian of Guanxi that is found in the lamp records. Guanxi Xian first studied with Linji Yixuan, hut left that teacher and set off traveling, eventually coming to Moshan's temple in ancient Ruizhou, the area of modern Gao'an City in...

Dasui Fazhen Shenzhao

Dasui Fazhen 878-963 was a disciple of Changqing Da'an. He came from ancient Zizhou now the city of Santai in Sichuan Province . He is recorded to have experienced great enlightenment while still quite young. After becoming a monk at Huiyi Temple, he traveled extensively and studied with the teachers Daowu Yuanzhi, Yunyan Tansheng, and Dongshan Liangjie, among others. Some accounts describe him as a diligent student and heir of the Guiyang Zen lineage, although both the Transmission of the Lamp...

Shishuang Qingzhu

Shishuang Qingzhu 807-88 was a disciple of Yaoshan Weiyan. He came from the city of Xingan near ancient Luling. He was ordained by Zen master Xishan Shaolong on Mt. Tai at the age of twenty-three, and then proceeded to study the Vinaya. Finding this path to be too slow, he traveled to Mt. Gui, where he studied with Guishan Lingyou and worked preparing food in the kitchen. In a famous exchange between Guishan and Shishuang, Guishan chided him for overlooking a grain of rice that had accidentally...

Dayang Jingxuan Jingyan

Dayang Jingxuan 943-1027 was a disciple of Liangshan Yuanguan, and a transmitter of the Caodong Zen lineage. He came from ancient Jiangxia now the city of Wuchang in Hubei Province . He left lay life to enter Chongxiao Temple in Jinling. There he studied under Zen master Zhitong. At the age of nineteen, after ordination, he left Jinling and traveled widely throughout the country. He first studied under Zen master Yuanjiao Liaoyi. Unsuccessful with that teacher, he continued his travels and...

Yangshan Huiji

Yangshan Huiji 807-83 was the main disciple of Guishan Lingyou. Yangshan came from ancient Shaozhou now the city of Shaoguan in Guangdong Province . His parents refused him permission to leave home and become a monk, so Yangshan demonstrated his resolve to them by cutting off two of his fingers, vowing that he would seek the true Dharma to repay his filial obligations. Accounts vary about where he first entered the clergy. It is likely that he first studied under Zen master Bu Yutong, the abbot...

Linji Yixuan Huizhao

Linji Yixuan d. 866 was a disciple of Huangbo Xiyun. Linji is a preeminent figure in the history of Zen. He came from the city of Nanhua in ancient Caozhou now the ity of Dongming in Shandong Province . As the founder of the Linji school of Zen in Japanese, Rinzai , his tradition remains, along with the Caodong school, as one of the two lineages that survive to the present day. After taking the vows of a monk, Linji studied the sutras, the Vinaya, and the various doctrines that were carried on...