Hongzhi Zhengjue

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Hongzhi Zhengjue
Tiantong Hongzhi Zhengjue Zen.jpg
Religion Chan
Born 1091
Xizhoue, China
Died 1157
Senior posting
Title Chan master
Predecessor Danxia Zichun
Religious career
Teacher Danxia Zichun

Hongzhi Zhengjue (Chinese: 宏智正覺; pinyin: Hóngzhì Zhēngjué; Wade–Giles: Hung-chih Cheng-chueh, Japanese: Wanshi Shōgaku), also sometimes called Tiantong Zhenjue (Chinese: 天童正覺; Japanese: Tendo Shōgaku) (1091-1157),[1][2] was a Chinese Chan Buddhist (called Zen by the Japanese, but originally Chan) monk who authored or compiled several influential Buddhist texts. Hongzhi's conception of "silent illumination" is of particular importance to the Chinese Caodong and Japanese Sōtō Chan schools;[1] however, Hongzhi was also the author of an important collection of koans, although koans are now usually associated with the Linji or Japanese Rinzai schools).


According to the account given in Taigen Dan Leighton's Cultivating the Empty Field, Hongzhi was born to a family named Li in Xizhou, present-day Shanxi province. He left home at the age of 11 to become a monk, studying under Caodong master Kumu Faqeng, among others, including Yuanwu Keqin, author of the famous koan collection, the Blue Cliff Record.

In 1129, Hongzhi began teaching at the Jingde monastery on Mount Tiantong, where he remained for nearly thirty years, until shortly before his death in 1157, when he ventured down the mountain to bid farewell to his supporters.


Hongzhi is the author or compiler of several texts important to the development of Chán Buddhism. One of these is the kōan collection known in English as The Book of Equanimity, The Book of Serenity, or The Book of Composure (Chinese: 從容録; Wade–Giles: Ts'ung-jung lu), or Shōyōroku (従容録?) in Japanese. A collection of Hongzhi's philosophical texts has also been translated by Dan Leighton.

Hongzhi often referred to as an exponent of Silent Illumination Chán, or Mokusho Zen (黙照禅?) in Japanese.

Aside from his own teacher, Eihei Dōgen, the founder of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan, quotes Hongzhi in his work more than any other Zen figure.[3]


  • Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi, edited and translated by Taigen Dan Leighton (Tuttle Publishing, 2000). ISBN 0-8048-3240-4.
  • The Book Of Equanimity: Illuminating Classic Zen Koans translated by Gerry Shishin Wick (Boston : Wisdom Publications, 2005)
  • The Book of Serenity translated by Thomas Cleary (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1990)


  1. ^ a b The Bright Field of Spirit: The Life and Teachings of Chan Master Hongzhi Zhengjue
  2. ^ Hongzhi, Dogen and the Background of Shikantaza
  3. ^ Heine, Steven, "Dōgen, Zen Master, Zen Disciple: Transmitter or Transgressor", in Heine, Steven; Wright, Dale S., Zen Masters, Oxford University Press, p. 119, ISBN 9780195367652 

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