Master Han Shan Deqing (1546-1623)
Han Shan Deqing is an important figure from the history of Chan Buddhism who isn’t well known. They called him Silly Mountain(not to be confused with the other monk named Han Shan, who they called Cold Mountain).
He lived in China and is regarded as a great reformer. He spent a lot of time just wandering from monastery to monastery giving teachings and helping spread the dharma. He was renowned as a great lecturer and commentator and he advocated practicing Chan and Pure Land practice side-by-side.
It has been suggested that he questioned the value of the system of Dharma Transmission, saying that real enlightenment is beyond such things as certificates and doing the right rituals
Han Shan wrote many commentaries, lectures, and poems. He was a great inspiration to Master Hsu Yun and as such he is revered in the lineages that are descended from him, but outside of those groups he’s largely unknown in spite of his great accomplishments. You can read the “The Maxims of Master Han Shan” here.
Master Hsu-Yun (Deqing Yangche) (1840-1959)
Hsu-Yun (Empty Cloud) is a well-known Chinese master of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is known for his arduous life’s work of revitalization of the Chan Buddhist tradition. Born in a Taoist family, he felt the need, after reading a book about the story of GuanYin in his family library, to practice Buddhism. He fled from home, leaving behind his two wives, and lived as a hermit in nearby forests and grottos. After several years of ascetic life, he met master Yung Ching of the Tientai Lineage who instructed him in Sutra study and Hua-Tou practice. After that he began his famous years-long journey to several Chinese places linked to important Bodhisattvas such as Putuo Shan, Nan-Hai, Wutai Shan, and many others (all the while bowing every three steps) to repay his filial debts and to deepen his understanding of Zen. From there he walked in pilgrimage through Tibet, India, Sri Lanka and Burma.
He is said to have achieved enlightenment during a Chan retreat at Gaomin temple and since that time, he worked tirelessly to revitalize Chan Buddhism in China. He worked for the rest of his life at the reconstruction of the monasteries of the major schools of Chan which were in ruins (such as the monastery of the 6th patriarch Huineng and the monastery of YunMen). He also “re-established” the 5 traditional schools of Chan, transmitting the Dharma to his students and naming them abbots of these monasteries. He is very well known for his teachings on the combined practice of Pureland and Chan, especially through the Huatou method of “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?”. He is said to have died at the age of 120.
Venerable Master Jy Din Shakya (Weimiao Jydin DaShi) (1917-2003)
Master Ji Dyn first met master Hsu-Yun at Nan Hua monastery in his adolescence and received ordination from him at the age of 20. For several years he served as the great master’s interpreter throughout the country. He also spent several years studying Chan and making pilgrimages before coming back to Nan Hua monastery where he helped master Hsu-Yun in regulating the monastery grounds, schools, and offices. As Master Hsu-Yun went on to rebuild the YunMen monastery, Master Jy Din became the head monk of Nan Hua monastery and a committee member of the Chinese Buddhist Association. Master Jy Din received a request from the Chinese immigrant community in Honolulu, Hawaii, to come and share the Buddhadharma in Hawaii. Having received the approval of master Hsu-Yun, with the famous and simple saying: “spread the Dharma to the West”, he and his disciples traveled to Hawaii.
In Hawaii, with the Chinese Buddhist Association of Hawaii, he founded what was to become the first Chan Buddhist Temple in the West. In honor of his master, it was named “Hsu-Yun Si”, the Temple of Hsu-Yun.
In order to help “spread the Dharma to the West”, he founded (with the help of the founders of the “Nan Hua Buddhist Society”, namely Ming Zhen Shakya and Chuan Zhi Shakya) in 1997 the “ZEN BUDDHIST ORDER OF HSU-YUN”, a semi-monastic order of Western priests, to disseminate the Chan teachings and practices of Master Hsu-Yun to Westerners . This order was the first Buddhist organization to exist partially on the internet. The Zen Buddhist Order of HsuYun is a secular community of Chan/Zen Priests. The priests aren’t monks and do not follow the Vinaya rules. They are secular Dharma Teachers and follow the Brahmajala Precepts.
Venerable Master Fo-Yuan Shakya (MiaoXin FoYuan) (1922-2009)
Master Fo Yuan Shakya, Abbot and Lineage Master of the restored Yunmen School of Zen (last teacher of Ming Zhen Shakya)
Master Fo Yuan was ordained as a monk at the age of 18 in the Chinese Vinaya tradition at the Qi Jia Temple. He studied and practiced extensively the precepts and classical Buddhist meditation methods. He traveled to practice and study the Dharma under several masters. Having heard of the “sanctity” of master Hsu-Yun, he looked for him and finally found him rebuilding the YunMen monastery. At YunMen Si, he studied arduously with master Hsu-Yun and thanks to his dedication to the practice and his knowledge of the Dharma, became the “Guest Master” of the YunMen monastery.
There he received the name Fo Yuan and Miao Xin from Hsu-Yun and was transmitted the re-established Chan Lineage of the YunMen House, thus becoming the 13th generation inheritor of the YunMen Chan School since the founder of this Chan Lineage, Wenyan YunMen (the Lineage being extinct for several hundred years). After that, he assumed the abbacy of the monastery with a spirit of true sincerity and arduous work, renewing the Chan tradition of “agricultural and spiritual Chan work”, making the famous edict “a day without work is a day without food” ring truer than ever. He also continued the reconstruction of the monastery, which is now a big complex with various Buddha and relic halls, Chan halls, monk halls and a library. He also temporarily assumed the abbacy of the Nan Hua monastery after the passing of his friend, and Hsu-Yun’s disciple, Master Wei Yin.
Venerable Dharma Teacher Ming Zhen Shakya
Venerable Ming Zhen Shakya (formerly Chuan Yuan Shakya), was a Chan/Zen Priest and Dharma Teacher, a writer, an artist and the main Dharma teacher of Shi Yao Xin Shakya from 2007 to 2016. She was the first American to be ordained in Mainland China since the communist revolution. She has been fully ordained and authorized to teach the Dharma to Westerners by both Master Wei Yin Shakya of the Linji lineage and by Master Fo Yuan Shakya of the Yunmen lineage of Zen Buddhism. She founded her first sangha as an authorized Dharma Teacher, the Nan Hua Zen Buddhist Society, in the early nineties upon finally returning from China.
Ming Zhen then co-founded the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun in 1997 with Grand Master Jy Din Shakya. She has helped Master Jy Din Shakya in spreading the Chan Dharma in many ways, such as founding the Zen Buddhist Order of HsuYun and helping him write the « Empty Cloud: The Teachings of Hsu Yun« .
She has been the editor of the “Zen Buddhist Order of HsuYun” until recently, and has written articles and books on the Zen practices for more than 25 years. Our “Old Sun” entered Nirvana in November 2016, leaving her Dharma Heirs with all her teachings and the Light of the Loving presence.
Venerable Dharma Teacher YaoXin Shakya
FaShi YaoXin is a Fully Ordained and Transmitted Zen Priest in the Linji/Yunmen Lineage of the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun. He was a direct disciple of Ming Zhen for many years and serves on the Council of the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun as « Co-Prior of the Order ».
As a Senior Dharma Teacher in the lineage of the ZBOHY, he founded DWZS and serves as « Head Priest » of the Sangha.
Shi YaoXin has also received ordination as a Chan/Zen Priest and Dharma Teacher in the Order of Engaged Buddhists (OEB) . He has been authorized to teach the Dharma as represented by OEB’s Prior ordaining lineage which is both Ch’an and Soto Zen, by Rev. Shi Shen-Xi Astor.
Shi YaoXin is also honored to deepen his study of Soto Zen Buddhism under Master Taigu Turlur, founder and guiding teacher of Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage.