September 17, 2014

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Who is Hsu Yun?

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Master Hsu Yun (Empty Cloud)

Hsu Yun is unquestionably the most revered Chan Master in China since Hui Neng, the sixth and last Chan (Zen) Patriarch.   Beyond China, a traveler will find shrines, altars and temples in his dedication around the globe. In his unquestionably long lifetime (accounts indicate he may have lived to 120 years) he led the effort to restore dozens of Buddhist temples and monasteries throughout China including one of the most famous, Nan Hua, founded in 675 AD.  After its restoration, Nan Hua temple quickly became one of China’s most revered Buddhist monasteries once again.  Nan Hua is also known as Caoxi for the river that flows nearby. It is considered Chan’s "home base", for, as the story goes, Chan became fully mature as the mystical branch of Buddhism upon the arrival of its resident master, Hui Neng.

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Nan Hua Temple

But this is not what Hsu Yun is most famous for.  Hsu Yun is most celebrated for his relentless efforts to resurrect Chan in monasteries throughout China, and to offer it directly to anyone who wanted to learn about it, Buddhist clergy and laity alike, as well as non-Buddhists.   Just as Gusteau, from the popular 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille, believed that “Anyone can cook”, Hsu Yun believed that anyone can do Chan.  He spent much of the latter part of his long life speaking about Chan to monks and anyone else who cared to attend his lectures and sermons. He espoused the importance of Chan practice as an individual, independent, undertaking, dependent on nothing but our own courage, motivation, faith, discipline and spiritual desire.    

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Master Jy Din, 1997

The Order of Hsu Yun received its name from one of his Dharma heirs, Jy Din, who served as his personal translator for many years as he traveled throughout China.  Hsu Yun later sent Jy Din Westward to Hawaii to serve its growing number of Chinese Buddhist immigrants.  In honor of his beloved Master, he named the first Buddhist temple in Hawaii, Hsu Yun Temple.

In the spirit of Chan and the teachings of Hsu Yun, the Order of Hsu Yun as represented on this website (www.hsuyun.org) offers resources for anyone interested in learning about or practicing Chan.