Virtue of Masters
Home > Virtue of Masters > Master Huilin

Master Huilin

Zen Master Huilin (750-833), whose secular surname was Ke and who styled himself as Baoyu, was originally from Xin’an, a place what is now Anhui Province. According to another archive, his secular surname was Ge. The difference may come from the similarity of the mandarin pronunciation between Ke and Ge. It is commonly considered that Bibliography of Huilin included in Biographies of Eminent Monks in the Song Dynasty and Huilin in the Tang Dynasty included in New Categorized Biographies of Six Monk in Dazheng Buddhist Scriptures both provide creditable information about Zen Master Huilin. Due to the lack of detailed historical materials, the specific date of Zen Master Huilin’s birth cannot be determined. However, deducing from the year Zen Master Huilin passed away, we can know that he was born in the 38th year of the reign of Tang Emperor Xuanzong (750 AD), with the exact month unclear.

Zen Master Huilin became a Buddhist monk when he was still a child. He studied Buddhism after a monk with the nickname of Jin Monk at the west side of Mountain Lingyin in Hangzhou until the first year of Dali period (766 AD) when he took oaths as a Buddhist monk at LingShan Dharma Assembly. After that, Zen Master Huilin had a more profound understanding of the three learnings, i.e. precepts, concentration, and wisdom. Knowing the three learnings are equally important, Zen Master Huilin laid the foundation for his future retaining of the Buddhist teachings, which exerted far-reaching influence on his propagation of Buddha Dharma. Since then, Zen Master Huilin had no longer lingered on secular affairs; instead he developed a preference for meditation by the river in forest. He went to Mountain Tianmu and resided there for over 20 years. During that time many supernatural incidents happened due to Zen Master Huilin’s extraordinary practice of Buddhism. Mountain Tianmu was so remote that visitors had to climb for days to reach the top. Therefore it was sporadically visited. And according to historical records, a dragon which was too stinking to bear often raised the devil on the mountain top. It was also said that in every May the mountain deity would meet with the dragon and made waves together. The place was exactly where Zen Master Huilin lived, but he was not at all distracted by all those hardships and incidents.

Between Yuanhe year (806 AD) and Dinghai year (807 AD), Zen Master Huilin was invited by Duzhi, who was a councilor of the Ministry of Rites as well as a provincial prefect of Hangzhou, to preach on Buddha Dharma in Yongfu Temple. By the spring of Jichou year (809 AD), Zen Master Huilin went to Tianzhu Temple to teach Buddha Dharma at the call of Pei Changli, who was an official in the Ministry of War and a prefect of Hangzhou. Later he presided over Lingyin Temple for over two decades, and during that time, Zen Master Huilin taught Buddha Dharma and trained disciples, enjoying a high reputation not only in the Buddhist community but also in the secular world. At that time, the officials and celebrities coming to ask for Zen Master Huilin’s teaching include Lu Ze – an official of prefecture, Yang Ping – an assistant minister of the Ministry of Penalty, Lu Yuanfu – a supervising secretary, Bai Juyi – a great poet, Li Yougong – an official from fiscal department, Cui Shan and Lu Yi – ministers of the Ministry of Penalty, and so on and so forth. Thus the influence Zen Master Huilin had on the Buddhist community and the whole society can be clearly seen. He was also addressed as the “Abhidharma Confucius” and “Bodhisattva Shengli”.

In the 6th Dahe year of the reign of Tang Emperor Wenzong (833 AD), Zen Master Huilin passed away on April 25th, contributing 63 years of his 83-year life to Buddhism. He was then buried on May 12th on the left side of Manao Slope, which was on the south of Mountain Xishan near Yong’an Temple.

View: 1376