Yaoshan Weiyan

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Yaoshan Weiyan
Yaoshan Weiyan Image.jpg
School Chán
Born 745
Jiangxi, China
Died 827 (age 82)
Senior posting
Title Chán master
Predecessor Shitou Xiqian
Successor Yunyan Tansheng
Religious career
Teacher Shitou Xiqian
Mazu Daoyi
Students Yunyan Tansheng
Daowu Yuanzhi

Yaoshan Weiyan (Chinese: 藥山惟儼; Japanese: Yakusan Igen; Korean: Yaksan Yuǒm; Vietnamese: Dược Sơn Duy Nghiễm) was a Zen Buddhist monk who lived during the Tang dynasty. As with most monks of the Tang Dynasty, there are conflicting lines of evidence concerning Yaoshan's life. The earliest biographical information comes from Tang Shen, who wrote Yaoshan's epitaph in 834, seen years after his death. While he is traditionally regarded as a student of Shitou Xiqian, Tang Shen's inscription mentions that he stayed with Mazu Daoyi for nearly 20 years. It also mentions Shitou as his teacher, however. Some scholars consider the epitaph to be a later forgery, although many elements of it agree with other sources. A story dating to the middle of the eleventh century relates an encounter between Yaoshan and Shitou in which Yaoshan failed to awaken, but a later visit to Mazu results in his enlightenment. This is almost certainly a fanciful jibe at Shitou and praise for Mazu, however.[1]

A story involving Yaoshan is frequently referenced in the writing of Dogen, the founder of the Sōtō school in Japan. The story is as follows:

Once, when the Master was sitting, a monk asked him, "What are you thinking of, [sitting there] so fixedly?"
The master answered, "I'm thinking of not thinking (siliang ge busiliang di 思量箇不思量底).”
The monk asked, "How do you think of not thinking?"
The Master answered, "Nonthinking (fei siliang 非思量)."

According to Carl Bielefeldt, a religious studies professor at Stanford University, this passage encapsulates the essence of Dogen's teaching on zazen meditation. Because of this, it is referenced frequently in his works, such as in in the Shōbōgenzō, Eihei Kōroku, and most prominently his early work the Fukan Zazen Gi.[2]


  1. ^ Jia, Jinhua (2007), The Hongzhou School of Chan Buddhism in Eighth- Through Tenth-Century China, SUNY Press, pp. 28–32, ISBN 978-0-7914-6824-1 
  2. ^ a b Bielefeldt, Carl (2006), Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 66: The King of Samadhis Samadhi, Sotoshu Shumucho 
Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Shitou Xiqian
Sōtō Zen patriarch Succeeded by
Yunyan Tansheng