Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Fourth Patriarch, Dayi Daoxin

Dayi Daoxin (Tao-hsin in Chinese Wade-Giles, and Daii Doshin in Japanese Romanji) lived from 580 to 651.

Some background from the book, Zen's Chinese Heritage, by Andrew Ferguson (pp 24-25):

When he was fourteen years old he went to pay respects to Sengcan Jianzhi, the Third Patriarch.

Daoxin said, "I ask for the Master's compassion. Please tell me of the gate to emancipation."

Sengcan said, "Who has bound you?"

Daoxin said, "No one has bound me."

Sengcan said, "Then why are you seeking emancipation?"

Upon hearing these words, Daoxin experienced great enlightenment.

Daoxin acted as Sengcan's attendant for nine years. After leaving Sengcan, taught at "Broken Head Mountain" for thirty years. This is the present location of the Fourth Patriarch's Temple.

Daoxin is often credited with creating the first self-sufficient monastery for Zen monks in China.

According to Bill Porter, Author of the book, Zen Baggage,

"When people think about Zen, they usually think of it in external terms: nonsensical talk, spontaneous behavior, or minimalist art forms. But that would be to look at it from the outside. If you look at it from the inside, from your own mind, Zen is just a way of living. And that way of living is far easier to realize in a communal setting with the support of others than it is alone. Seclusion has its place, especially once a person has practiced in a community, but it was its communal approach to spiritual cultivation that was the strength of Zen. That was why it overwhelmed all other Buddhist sects in China, both in terms of numbers and in terms of influence. Its success was Darwinian. It produced a better-trained monk and more of them. Other sects were ideology-driven. Zen didn't have an ideology. Zen was life-driven. Its motto was 'No work, no food.'"

Self-sufficiency has been a hallmark of Zen in China and is probably partly responsible for its resurgence today.
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  1. Great quote! Love your blog, read it every night and enjoy every sentence! Thank you both so much for taking the time and energy to share it with us!!!

    Can hardly wait to see where we go next-the Huangshan photos were stupendous from a 33 degree Japan-also sent them to Ansan....

    Thanks again and also for your joy in the seeing!!


  2. Hi, I'm in Xiamen, my Chinese is minimal,but wonder how the meditation practice is there at the 4th Patriarch temple. In Xiamen there is some Zen, but it seems that Pure land practice is far more prevalent, and don't see opportunities to do week long or longer retreats, as is possible in, say, Thailand or Burma. I am a day's journey to Hubei, and wonder if nos is a good time to go.


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