Yunyan Tansheng

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Yunyan Tansheng
Yunyan Tansheng Image Zen.jpg
School Chán
Personal
Born 780
Jianchang, China
Died 841 (age 61)
Senior posting
Title Chán master
Predecessor Yaoshan Weiyan
Successor Dongshan Liangjie
Religious career
Teacher Yaoshan Weiyan
Baizhang Huaihai
Students Dongshan Liangjie

Yunyan Tansheng (Chinese: 雲巖曇晟; Wade–Giles: Yün-yen T'an-shêng; Japanese: Ungan Donjō; Korean: Unam Tamsŭng; Vietnamese: Vân Nham Đàm Thạnh) was a Zen Buddhist monk during the Tang Dynasty. Ancient biographies record that he was from Jianchang.[1] He is said to have become a monk when he was 16 at Shimen Temple with Baizhang Huaihai as his teacher. After 20 years with him, Baizhang died and Yuyan had still had not attained enlightenment. He visited many teachers before settling on Yaoshan Weiyan as his new master.[1][2] The first part of his name comes from Yunyan Mountain, which is outside of modern Changsha, where he taught after studying with Yaoshan. Recorded dialogues involving Yunyan often include him and his fellow student, Daowu Yuanzhi. He supposedly died from illness, the day before which he ordered his students to prepare for a banquet because a monk was preparing to depart the monastery.[1]

A well known poem, the Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi, is attributed to Yunyan in Juefan Huihong's biographical compilation of 1119, the Chanlin sengbao zhuan (Chronicle of the Sangha Treasure in the Groves of Chan). This is the first time this poem is mentioned in the historical record. Huihong writes that the poem was given to Dongshan Liangjie, Yunyan's student, but that he believes Yunyan's teacher probably gave it to him in turn. Huihong further relates that he came upon the poem in 1108, when it was given to a scholar Zhu Yan by a monk, whom he does not identify. The scholar Morten Schlütter notes that the poem's provenience is doubtful given the way it came to Huihong, and furthermore the style differs substantially from works of the era that Huihong attributes it to. Most later historical sources, such as the Zengaku daijiten, the Bussho kaisetsu daijiten, and Shinsan zenseki mokuroku, attribute the poem to Dongshan Liangjie rather than Yunyan, although again, neither is likely.[3]

Appearance in Kōan[edit]

A number of kōan dialogues feature Yunyan and his fellow student Daowu Yuanzhi. Case 54 of the Book of Equanimity, Case 89 of the Blue Cliff Record, case 105 from Dōgen's Shinji Shōbōgenzō, and the chapter "Kannon" from Dōgen's Kana Shōbōgenzō, and all involve the same story in which Yunyan and Daowu discuss the purpose of Avalokiteshvara's many hands and eyes. The precise intention of the story varies with each version.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ferguson, Andrew E. (2000), Zen's Chinese heritage: the masters and their teachings, Wisdom Publications, pp. 142–145, ISBN 978-0-86171-163-5 
  2. ^ Mitchell, James (2005), Soto Zen ancestors in China, San Francisco: Ithuriel's Spear, p. 36, ISBN 978-0-9749502-3-5 
  3. ^ Schlütter, Morten (2010), How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute Over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China, University of Hawaii Press, pp. 158, 230, ISBN 978-0-8248-3508-8 
Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Yaoshan Weiyan
Sōtō Zen patriarch Succeeded by
Dongshan Liangjie