Linji Yixuan
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Linji Yixuan
Linji Yixuan
Japanese painting of Linji Yixuan (Jap. Rinzai Gigen).
TitleCh'an Master
Died866 CE
Senior posting
TeacherHuangbo Xiyun

Linji Yixuan (simplified Chinese: ?; traditional Chinese: ?; pinyin: Línjì Yìxuán; Wade-Giles: Lin-chi I-hsüan; Japanese: ? Rinzai Gigen; died 866 CE) was the founder of the Linji school of Chan Buddhism during Tang Dynasty China.

Línjì y?lù

Information on Linji is based on the Línjì y?lù (?; Japanese: Rinzai-goroku), the Record of Linji. The standard form of these sayings was not completed until 250 years after Linji's death and likely reflect the teaching of Chán in the Linji school at the beginning of the Song Dynasty rather than those of Linji's in particular.[1]

This contains stories of his interactions with teachers, contemporaries, and students. The recorded lectures are a mixture of the conventional and the iconoclastic. Despite the iconoclasm, the Línjì y?lù reflects a thorough knowledge of the sutras. Linji's teaching-style, as recorded in the Línjì y?lù, was exemplary of the development Chán took in the Hongzhou school () of Mazu and his successors, such as Huangbo, Linji's master.


According to the Línjì y?lù, Linji was born into a family named Xing (?) in Caozhou (modern Heze in Shandong), which he left at a young age to study Buddhism in many places.

Also according to the Línjì y?lù, Linji was trained by the Chan master Huángbò X?yùn (?), but attained kensho while discussing Huángbò's teaching during a conversation with the reclusive monk Dàyú (). Linji then returned to Huángbò to continue his training after awakening. In 851 CE, Linji moved to the Linji temple in Hebei, where he took his name, which also became the name for the lineage of his form of Chán Buddhism.

Linji's teaching style

A statue of Linji Yixuan under the southern gate of Zhengding Hebei, China


Linji is reputed for being iconoclastic, leading students to awakening by hitting and shouting.[2]

Three Mysterious Gates

Chán faced the challenge of expressing its teachings of "suchness" without getting stuck into words or concepts. The alleged use of shouting and beating was instrumental in this non-conceptual expression - after the students were well-educated in the Buddhist tradition.[3]

Linji is described as using The Three Mysterious Gates to maintain the Chán emphasis on the nonconceptual nature of reality, while employing sutras and teachings to instruct his students:[3]

  1. The First Gate is the "mystery in the essence",[4] the use of Buddhist philosophy, such as Yogacara to explain the interpenetration of all phenomena.
  2. The Second Gate is the "mystery in the word",[4] using the Hua Tou[a] for "the process of gradually disentangling the students from the conceptual workings of the mind".[4]
  3. The Third Gate is the "mystery in the mystery",[4] "involving completely nonconceptual expressions such as striking or shouting, which are intended to remove all of the defects implicit in conceptual understanding".[4]

References in popular culture

The titular story of Volume 2 of Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima's manga comic Lone Wolf and Cub revolves around Linji's saying "if you meet a buddha, kill the buddha," in which the protagonist must overcome his self to assassinate a living buddha.

In the manga Gens?maden Saiy?ki by Kazuya Minekura, Genj? Sanz? purports to live by the concept of " (muichimotsu)," as taught by his teacher Sanz? K?my?, who is quoted as saying:

Japanese Romanized English
"Muichimotsu" "Have Nothing"
Butsu ni aeba butsu (w)o korose If you meet a buddha, kill him.
So ni aeba so (w)o korose If you meet your forefather, kill him.
Nanimono ni mo torawarezu Attached to nothing,
? Shibararezu Bound [to nothing],
? Tada aru ga mama ni onore (w)o ikiru Live your own life simply as it is.

Linji's lineage

28 / 1 / Damo ? / tma / Daruma / Dalma
29 / 2 / Shenguang Huìke 487-593 Hu? Kh? Eka / Hyega
30 / 3 / Jianzhi Sengcan ?-606 T?ng Xán S?san / Seungchan
31 / 4 / Dongshan Daoxin 580-651 o Tín D?shin / Doshim
32 / 5 / Huangmei Hongren 601/2-674/5 Ho?ng Nh?n K?nin / Hongihn
33 / 6 / Caoxi Huineng 638-713 Hu? N?ng En? / Hyeneung
34 / 7 ? / Nanyue Huairang 677-744 Nam Nh?c Hoài Nhng Nangaku Ej? ? / Namak Hweyang
35 / 8 ? / Mazu Daoyi[9] 709-788 Mã T? o Nh?t Baso D?itsu ? / Majo Toil
36 / 9 ? / Baizhang Huaihai 720?/749?-814 Bách Trng Hoài H?i Hyakuj? Ekai ? / Paekchang Hwehae
37 / 10 ? / Huangbo Xiyun ?-850 Hoàng Bá Hy V?n ?baku Kiun ? / Hwangbyeok Heuiun
38 / 11 ? / Linji Yixuan ?-866/7 Lâm T? Ngh?a Huy?n Rinzai Gigen ? / Imje Euihyeon

See also


  1. ^ Stuart Lachs: "The Chinese term Hua-t'ou can be translated as "critical phrase." Literally it means the "head of speech" or the "point beyond which speech exhausts itself." In Korean, hua-t'ou are known as hwadu and in Japanese as wato [...] A hua-t'ou is a short phrase (sometimes a part of a koan) that can be taken as a subject of meditation and introspection to focus the mind in a particular way, which is conducive to enlightenment.[web 1]


Written references

  1. ^ Welter & Year unknown.
  2. ^ McRae 1993.
  3. ^ a b Buswell 1993, p. 245-246.
  4. ^ a b c d e Buswell 1993, p. 246.
  5. ^ characters and Wade-Giles Romanization
  6. ^ See Thi?n S? Trung Qu?c for a list of Chinese Zen Masters in Vietnamese.
  7. ^ Romaji
  8. ^ Hangeul and South Korean Revised Romanization
  9. ^ extensive article in Mazu Daoyi



  • Buswell, Robert E. (1991), The "Short-cut" Approach of K'an-hua Meditation: The Evolution of a Practical Subitism in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism. In: Peter N. Gregory (editor)(1991), Sudden and Gradual. Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited
  • Keown, Damien. A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-860560-9
  • Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. "Lone Wolf and Cub 2: The Gateless Barrier". Dark Horse, 2000. ISBN 1-56971-503-3, ISBN 978-1-56971-503-1
  • Lowenstein, Tom. The Vision of the Buddha: Buddhism - The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment. ISBN 1-903296-91-9
  • McMahan, David L. (2008), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-518327-6
  • McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group Ltd, ISBN 978-0-520-23798-8
  • Schloegl, Irmgard. The Zen Teaching of Rinzai. Shambhala Publications, Inc., Berkeley, 1976. ISBN 0-87773-087-3
  • Watson, Burton (1999), The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi: A Translation of the Lin-chi lu, New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-11485-0
  • Welter, Albert (n.d.), The Textual History of the Linji lu (Record of Linji): The Earliest Recorded Fragments

Further reading

  • Ruth Fuller Sasaki, The Record of Linji
  • Welter, Albert (2006), Monks, Rulers, and Literati. The Political Ascendancy of Chan Buddhism, Wisdom Books
  • Welter, Albert (2008), The Linji Lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: The Development of Chan's Records of Sayings Literature, Oxford University Press
  • Schlütter, Morten (2008), How Zen became Zen. The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-3508-8

External links

Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Huangbo Xiyun
Rinzai Zen patriarch Succeeded by
Xinghua Cunjiang

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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