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Master Taoguang

Zen Master Taoguang (with dates of birth and death unclear) was from Sichuan. During the reign of Emperor Muzong of the Tang Dynasty, he once travelled to study Buddhism. Before he set out, his master enjoined him to stay when encountering tian and to stop when coming upon chao. Arriving at Chaogouwu in Lingyin Mountain, he recalled his master’s words and came to realize that there was the character chao in the name Chaogouwu and that Bai Juyi, then governer of Hangzhou, styled himself as Letian, which also contained the character tian. Thus Taoguang immediately stopped to take up residence in Chaogouwu in Lingshan Mountain. Residing in Lingyin Temple, he and Bai Juyi became good friends for both of them were fond of poetry. Bai Juyi once wrote the following poem Inviting Zen Master Taoguang to invite Taoguang to his house.

I have my house cleaned and prepare rice,

       There will not be meat or fish in my house.

       Rinse the arrowroot with clear spring water,

       Wash my hands to pick flowers on the vine.

       Remove yellow leaves from green leaf mustard,

       Select the red ginger with purple shoots.

       Invite the master to dine together,

       After that tea will be served.


       Zen Master Taoguang declined his invitation by the following poem Declining the Invitation of Taibai.

         As a monk I love to live in the mountain,

       Tired, I will rest my head on a rock.

       I don’t know how to plant a pine, nor to dine with others,

       All I can do is to draw water to raise lotus.

       Green mountains can be overshadowed by white clouds,

       It is difficult to have the moon leave the sky.

       I can’t take my cane with me to the city, 

       For fear that it may scare the singing orioles on the tree.

Later Zen Master Taoguang built a thatched cottage in Lingyin Mountain, which was today’s Taoguang Temple.


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