Lin-chi I-hsüan

(d. 866)

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(d. 866).

T'ang dynasty Chinese Ch'an monk and founder of the Lin-chi school. He originally came from a family named Hsing in Ts'ao-chou, but left home while still quite young and studied Buddhist teaching and practice in many places with many teachers. He achieved his enlightenment (satori) experience and received inka from Huang-po Hsi-yün (d. 850), and thereafter made free use of Huang-po's methods of beating students and shouting directly into their ears. Aside from these ‘shock’ techniques, Lin-chi also gained renown for his mastery of the most complex Buddhist thought as contained in the Hua-yen ching, and his ability to teach and illustrate it in plain and straightforward language. In 851 he moved into the Lin-chi Temple in Hopei, from which he took the name by which he is mainly known and which lent its name to the lineage that followed after him. The Lin-chi school thereafter became the most successful and widespread of the ‘Five Houses’ of Ch'an, and became the ascendant line of the Rinzai school of zen in Japan. He is perhaps best known for his dictum, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha’, through which he attempted to turn students' attention away from external images and teachers so that they could discover the truth about themselves.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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