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Hangzhou Lingyin Temple Introduction


hangzhou lingyin temple
View of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

Lingyin Temple(灵隐寺,Temple of Soul's Retreat) is the oldest, the most famous and influential buddhist monastery in Southeastern China. Also named Yunlin Temple, Lingyin Temple is Chinese famous Buddhist monastery of Buddhism welcomed and believed by innumerous Buddhism believers. In their mind, Lingyin Temple is their shrine and the place to talk spiritually to Bodhisattva and Buddha. Lingyin Temple located at the northwest riverfront of the West Lake in Hangzhou, and generally, it is considered to be a part of the West Lake Scenic Area, which is the extremely famous and popular tourist attraction in China, even in the Far-East Area. Exactly, Lingyin Temple is situated in the Lingyin Mountain between Fei Lai Feng (飞来峰,Peak Flown From Afar) and Bei Gao Feng(北高峰,Peak of North Highness). Traditionally, Lingyin Temple as well as the area around Lingyin Temple are all the perfect tourist destinations for leisure, reading, study and self-meditation, thanks to its old and lofty trees, tranquil and deep mountains, ancient Buddhist temples as well as the varied clouds and mist. Lingyin Temple in China is considered to be one of the wealthiest monasteries, and the top one in Jiangnan region. Today’s Lingyin Temple serves as the place for tourism and pilgrims. Rarely known, Deng Xiaoping, the former great leader, together with many other leaders, also was the regular comer of Lingyin Temple

Name Origins of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

Legendarily speaking, roughly more than 1600 years ago, an Indian monk named Hui Li(慧理) got to Hangzhou and was dazzled deeply by the fantastic mountains and landscapes in this area and thought of it as The Retreat of The Soul(仙灵所隐).Therefore, he built up a temple and named it Lingyin Temple. Certainly, this is a kind of legend mostly agreed by the mass.

yuchigong profile
Profile of Yuchi Jingde

Another legendary story is also quite fascinating. Originally named Lingying Temple(灵鹰寺, Temple of Wizardly Eagle or Vulture Emple), Lingyin Temple initially was constructed in early period of Tang Dynasty(618-907). It was said approximately 1400 years ago, there was a Bijia Mountain(笔架山,Penholder Mountain) in front of today's Qinlingwan. The zone on the left side of Bijia Mountain was deemed as the Blessed Land of Sunrise and Phoenix. Primitively, this area was wild and full of bramble. Later, a monk with family named Wu lived in back mountain and fed on selling firewood and planting. One day, this monk collected firewood in Bijia Mountain and took off his garment due to the hot weather. He hung his garment onto a branch and went on his work. Unexpectedly, a wild goose flied down and took away his garment. It flied southwardly and stopped at the area where today's Lingyin Temple is located. The monk stared upward and ran after the wild goose toward south. He arrived at the place where his garment was and amazed at the surroundings and landform which looked like a huge eagle lying on the land. Monk Wu got inspired a lot and burnt incense to pray over here. Since then, he started the construction of temple, which was originally named Lingying Temple. From then on, Lingying Temple became more and more popular and the scale of the monastery building complex also has been formed basically. Down to the management period of Monk Bibo(碧钵和尚), there had been hundreds of monks living in temple; Besides, the temple had more than 200 mus of arable land, dozens of cattle, and scores of wells. The influence reached to five prefectures and eight counties. Up to the Zhengguan Period of Tang Dynasty, this was under the reign of Emperor Taizong. One Day, when Master Bibo was giving the lecture of Buddhist sutra to the monks, General Yuchi Gong(尉迟恭), who was the famous general of founding Tang Dynasty and was assigned to suppress the betrayers and robbers at the time, passed by Lingying Temple and was surprised at the towering architecture of the temple. He went into the temple to worship to the God for getting blessing from god to help him defeat the robbers and gangsters, and he promised that he would report the Emperor to give special appropriation funds for the temple reconstruction if he succeeded in suppression. In the end, General Yuchi Gong won in the battlefield and the special funds he applied for temple reconstruction were agreed and appropriated by authority. Mentionably, the Emperor Taizong, whose name was Li Shimin, specially changed the name of temple to be Lingyin Temple(灵隐寺), which since then was used up to today.

History and Culture of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

hangzhou lingyin temple
Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

Reliably Speaking, Lingyin Temple was built in326 when Southern China was in the reign of East Jin Dynasty. Up to today, the history of Lingyin Temple has been more than 1600 years. Lingyin Temple becomes the earliest Buddhist Temple in Hangzhou. Its name origins have been mentioned above. During the reign of Wuyue Kingdom (907-978), when China was separately under the administration of five Dynasties and roughly ten kingdoms, the King Qian Chu(钱俶) was a worshipper of Buddhism. Lingyin Temple with his help developed quickly, which was mainly embodied in the extension of buildings---there were 9 towers, 18 pavilions, 72 halls and more than 3000 monks in Lingyin Temple.

During Northern Song Dynasty, some scholars ranked buddhist temples of Jiangnan region, and Lingyin Temple was ranked first as the Top Zen Buddhist Temple. At the time, China had a list of Buddhist Temple named Wushan Shilin( 五山十林, Five Buddhist Mountains and Five Buddhist Forests), and Lingyin Temple was ranked the top of it. Lingyin Temple indeed has the surroundings of retreat, which is in harmony with its name. The whole temple was deeply surrounded diversity of peaks and forests. Fei Lai Feng and Cold Spring are the fantastic attractions around Lingyin Temple.

During the southward visit of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty, he was quite attracted by the gorgeous surroundings of Bei Gao Feng and joyfully inscribed the tablet for Lingyin Temple. But there was an interesting story. It was said that Emperor Kangxi made a mistake which embarrassed him a lot when him did not handle the layout of his handwritings well. The traditional Chinese of Ling(灵) was靈. The upper part of the character is another independent character, 雨(rain), and the middle part is three口 in line and the bottom was also a character, 巫(wizard). Generally, traditional character of Ling is comprised of three parts. But he was too happy to care more about the whole structure of the character and wrote the Yu(雨) quite large, which did harm to the whole writing of Ling(灵). He was troubled but could not tell followers. He considered for a minute. In a flash, he brought to mind that the surroundings of Lingyin Temple, especially the area of Bei Gao Feng always appeared the large scale of mist and covered the whole temple. He got an idea and added a character Yun(云, Cloud) below Yu, and imperially named Lingyin Temple Yun Lin Chan Si(云林禅寺, Cloud-Forest Zen Monastery). Today’s huge tablet written by Emperor Kangxi is in front of Hall of the Heavenly Kings(天王庙). However, the local people still preferred to call it Lingyin Temple.

Having experienced thousands of years, Lingyin Temple still kept well. During the period of Northern Expedition (1926-1927), The 31st Team's Colonel Xu Tujing under the leadership of Warlord Wu Peifu(吴佩孚) burnt down this time-honored temple rebuilt in the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty just for getting illegally a quite treasured legacy----Ancient Crock of Sheng Tian Tang, which was an ancient big crock originally used for immortality of Monk Bibo, the first governor of Lingyin Temple.

Premier Zhou Enlai Protected Lingyin Temple in Cultural Revolution

Since its first construction, Lingyin Temple has suffered more than 10 times of destruction and reconstruction. After the Foundation of P.R.C, Lingyin Temple was gradually restored. Especially the last two times of reconstruction in 1956 and 1975 largely formed today’s structure and scale of Lingyin Temple.

splendid view of lingyin temple
Splendid View of Lingyin Temple

However, during the scary period of Cultural Revolution, Lingyin Temple was luckily partially damaged by the infamous Red Guards thanks to the protection of former premier Zhou Enlai. In August, 1966, The Cultural Revolution widely spread all over China. The Red Guards rebelled against all, including diversity of so-called valueless and superstitious temples and monasteries. A large amount of Buddhist temples of Hangzhou was destroyed, and the monks and operators of temples were caught and persecuted. On August 26, 1966, a portion of the Red Guards of Hangzhou in the name of sweeping away the Four Olds(扫四旧, mainly eliminating old culture, old custom and traditional beliefs) targeted Lingyin Temple and threatened to dismantle the temple and destroy the Buddha statues and finally sweep away Lingyin Temple from the earth. Meanwhile, a part of young students and people publicly objected to their act. These students and people required to protect the national places of interest and ancient relics and protect the safety of Lingyin Temple. Both sides had the severe debating and conflicts. On that day, thousands of people constituted of workers, farmers and students automatically gathered at the front gate and the rear gate of Lingyin Temple to protect Lingyin Temple from The Red Guards’ destruction. At the time, the local governmental organs were defunctive and no one took charge of dealing with this incident. These protectors maintained by the end of August. What’s worse, the movement of sweeping away the four olds became more and more influential, and the leading group of The Cultural Revolution unfathomably declared that “Please revolutionary people decide whether to protect Lingyin Temple or not”. The situation became extremely urgent and the destiny of Lingyin Temple was in danger. Under such a vital circumstance, Premier Zhou Enlai got known this news and worried a lot about how to protect this holy place. Premier Zhou Enlai eventually made the only feasible measure----Closed down Lingyin Temple and sent the governmental paper. Lingyin Temple was protected successfully. Besides, Lingyin Temple was the only temple undestroyed during the Cultural Revolution. During this crisis, the monks of the temple also made the great efforts. These monks on the one hand publicized the announcement of the State Council, and on the other hand, bought a lot of portraits of Chairman Mao and pasted them on the Buddha Statues to prevent from the breach of the Red Guards.

The Return of Ancient Crock of Tian Sheng Tang

a buddha statue in lingyin temple
Statue of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

After the second liberation both in body and soul in 1976, Lingyin Temple was largely developed. During the leadership of present leading monk Shi Changjiu(释常久, customarily, Chinese monks prefer to select the first character of Sakyamuni, or 释迦牟尼, as their surname. For instance, today’s leader of Shaolin Temple named Shi Yongxin,释永信 and famous martial arts film star Shi Xiaolong, or释小龙, who practices Chinese Kung Fu in Shaolin Temple since his childhood, both do like this), who at the age of 7 became a monk of Lingyin Temple. Under the financial support of Buddhist believers, a new architectural complex of Buddhist temple was built in 2000. On March 3, 2004, the inherited treasure, The Gig Crock of Sheng Tian Tang, which lost 77 years ago, returned to Lingyin Temple. At present, Lingyin Temple as a center of Zen branch of Buddhism became more and more welcomed. The believers coming from all over the world gather here for praying. By the way, the inscription of the gate tablet was written by Jiang Zemin, the ex-president of the People's Republic of China.

In 1926, Lingyin Temple was largely destroyed due to the fire set by the troops of Worlord Wu Peifu due to their failure to get the replenishment from temple. On the night of 3 March, the 23rd group of the 17th troop of Wu Feifu, suddenly besieged the whole temple, and in several hours, all the treasures of the temple were robbed and the temple emcee was also deeply humiliated. Majority of 99 bodhisattva and Buddha statues were destroyed. Before their leaving, they set a fire to burn the temple. After they left, a large number of nearby citizens carried footbaths and water containers to help put out fire. It was said the god also helped them. At the time of the fire burning down the whole temple, it was suddenly lightning and thundering, shortly, the heavy rain begun and was said to last for three days and nights. Unfortunately, most of the ancient architectures of Lingyin Temple were thoroughly destroyed. What’s worse, the most important treasure of Lingyin Temple also lost. Since then, for getting back the most important treasure of the temple, they began their long and hard life to search for this divine treasure. This search lasted for generations

The monks looked for this treasure from place to place respectively when they seek for folk financial support in order to restore the temple. Subsequently, they heard of this treasure possibly was in Shi Zi Kou of Gong An County after Wu Peifu’s troop went across The Yangtze River and was defeated by Northern Expedition Troop. In the early spring, 1926, having confirmed the exact address where the Old Crock was, Yang Zaixing(杨再兴), the eldest monk student of Lingyin Temple decided to join the army and take back this treasure. This old crock via transfer was finally collected by a deputy commander with surname Xiong in Changsha, Hunan province. This deputy commander wanted to burn incense to worship when he got the news of this treasure. Meanwhile, Yang Zaixing had become his personal guard, and he knew this treasure would not be back anymore if this commander took a fancy to it. He connected several soldiers who used to be the monk of Lingyin Temple like him in hurry. They stole this treasure at stake and secretly moved it out. Totally, spending three years and six months, they experienced a lot of sufferings and finally took this treasure to the foot of Taohua Mountain(桃花山, Peach Blossom Mountain) of Huarong County, Hunan province. At the time of moving this treasure to Lingyin Temple by water, Yang Zaixing died of disease and hardship. The old crock transportation was delayed. And this delay lasted for ten years. In the end, this old crock lost again.

This ancient crock was sold to a well-off family, but later, this family got poorer and poorer. And they thought this crock was unlucky and threw it away. And then, it was transferred to a common family. It was said that this family worshipped this treasure sincerely and single-heartedly and became more and more rich. The superpower of this ancient crock was spread widely. Master Shi Changjiu also looked for this treasure for more than 30 years and finally found it in March, 1999. After he confirmed the specific address of this treasure, Master Shi Changjiu had a wish that he wanted to gradually restore Lingyin Temple gradually and welcome Sheng Tian Tang Ancient Crock back. In 1999, The Grand Hall of the Great Sage, the main architecture of Lingyin Temple, as well as many other important buildings was under the construction. Master Shi Changjiu moved to Jijiaoli Village, Huarong County, Hunan province without a stop and called at a farmer family with a surname Cai, because the treasure was preserved at this common family. Master Shi Changjiu did not have sufficient money to buy back this treasure and also was unwilling to ask for this treasure directly. Hence, from March 9 to March 18, Master Shi Changjiu kneeled down in front of their gate every morning. The whole family at the beginning was curious and surprised and later became worried. On the morning of March 18, the householder found Master Shi Changjiu had fainted as they opened the gate. They were shocked and moved Master into the house quickly. After Master Shi Changjiu came to himself and told them the reasons. This family was deeply touched and generously said to Master Shi Changjiu: Although we are not the Buddhist pilgrims, we know this is the most important treasure of Lingyin Temple. Please do not worry; we will choose a lucky day to send this treasure back to Lingyin Temple.

The Bird's-Eye View of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple Grotto & Inscriptions of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple
The Grand Hall of the Great Sage The Gate of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

On the September 9, 1999, this was an unforgettable day in the life of Master Shi Changjiu. With their 50 years’ efforts, the main buildings of Lingyin Temple successfully built up. In 2001, Kwan-Yin Hall and Hall of Heavenly Kings were built and in 2002, Shiwang Hall was constructed. On November 8, 2003, the Old Crock of Tian Sheng Tang came back.

Representative Scenic Spots in Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

Three Main Halls of Lingyin Temple

Today’s Lingyin Temple was rebuilt on the basis of the original relics, and the whole structure is similar to other temples in Jiangnan region. The buildings on the axle wire of the temple is generally comprised of The Hall of Heavenly Kings(天王殿), The Grand Hall of the Great Sage(大雄宝殿) and The Hall of The Medicine Buddha(药师殿) Surely, the main buildings aside from three large-scale halls also include some other important architecture such as Sutra Library and Huayan Hall, which are both worth a visit. As for these buildings, there is a saying like this: Coming to The Hall of the Heavenly Kings for safety, coming to The Grand Hall of the Great Sage for official promotion, coming to The Hall of the Medicine Buddha for good luck, coming to Sutra Library for healthiness and coming to Huayan Hall for success in imperial examination(the outdated part of regime used before the foundation of Nationalist Government of China, or the Republic of China), which mostly is similar to today's nationwide college entrance examination.

The Buddhist Rituals in Lingyin Temple The Buddhist Rituals in Lingyin Temple
The Monk Group in Lingyin Temple The Monks in Lingyin Temple

The center of Hall of Heavenly Kings opposite to the gate of temple is the Statue of Maitreya Buddha(弥勒佛). This is a smiling and amiable Buddha widely known as Laughing Buddha with a cloth bag and extensively liked by Chinese people, especially in the novel, the Journey to the West(西游记); Maitreya Buddha was quite impressive as a kind-hearted and accommodating old man. This is the principle statue. There is another important Buddha stature nearby---Weituo Statue (韦驮)in Chinese or Skanda Buddha who was the guard of Buddhism. This statue with a history of more than 700 years was 2.5 meters high and made of treasured fragrant camphor wood. The figure wearing the gold helmet and armour is quite vigorous. It is also the rare and valuable cultural relics inherited from Southern Song Dynasty. Both sides of The Hall of Heavenly Kings are the colored statue of Four Heavenly Kings. They are 8 meters high respectively. Two of them look powerful and others look friendly. In China, they are widely known as Si Da Jin Gang(四大金刚). The ceiling of this hall is ornately decorated and the tourists’ first impression is that this hall is too huge and gives the visitors a sense of divinity.

Through The Hall of Heavenly Kings, there is a large garden, and the main part is The Grand Hall of the Great Sage. Originally named Jue Huang Dian(觉皇殿), it belongs to the traditional building with three-level double eaves. The double eave is 33.6 meters high and looks quite magnificent. The principal statue in hall is a Statue of Sakyamuni on the Lotus Seat. It was 24.8 meter high and one of the highest wooden statue themed with sitting Buddha. The visitors usually awfully respect it. Two side of the hall are the statues of 20 gods and the back of the main statue is a statue of Kwan-yin backed by 150 Buddha statues. The below is the Statue of Shan Cai Tong Zi(Sudhana or Child of Wealth, 善财童子 in Chinese) as well as story that he paid homage to Kwan-yin. San Cai Tong Zi or Sudhana had 53 teacher and Kwan-yin was his 27th teacher. Under the teaching of Kwan-yin, Sudhana became a Buddha. Both sides of Kwan-yin are Child of Wealth and Long Nv(龙女, Girl Dragon). The above are the statue of the Bodhisattva King Dizang of the Great Vow as well as the scene of Sakyamuni Cultivates on Snow Mountain. It is worth of appreciation and artistic value. The original statue of Sakyamuni of Lingyin Temple was damaged in 1949 when the principal beam of the Grand Hall of The Great Sage was broken down due to the undermining of termite. Today’s statue was redesigned when the whole temple was under the reconstruction. It was jointly created by the sculptors of China Academy of Art as well as the folk artists based on the original version of Zen-style Buddha statue in Tang Dynasty.

lingyin temple
View of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

The Hall of the Medicine Buddha has been reconstructed recently. It houses the statue of the medicine Buddha, Sun God and Moon God. On the left side, there is the reconstructed Hall of Five Hundred Arhats(五百罗汉堂). Plenty of rare cultural relics are housed in this hall. On the both sides in front of the Hall of The Heavenly Kings, there are two stone-made sutra inscriptions. The front of the Grand Hall of the Great Sage is two stone-made pagodas with eight corners and nine stories, each side is perfectly carved. Via the study and academic confirmation of Liang Sicheng(梁思成, a son of Liang Qichao,梁启超, and world-famous architect and architectural historian), both were made in late period of Wuyue Kingdom, someone said they were made in 969. The well-preserved cultural relics of Buddhism include gold-covered Buddha statue, the ancient written sutra on leaf of Borassus Flabelliformis(贝叶写经), the handwritten Diamond Sutra by Dong Qichang(董其昌, the greatest scholarly calligrapher and painters of late Ming Dynasty) and others. All of these are quite valuable

Fei Lai Feng(The Peak Flown From Afar)

Fei Lai Feng nearby Lingyin Temple is an important place of interest in Hangzhou and also the main scenic spot of Lingyin Scenic Area. As for its name origin, Indian Monk Hui Li said: This is the small peak of Indian Vulture Mountain and I do not know how it flies afar. Hence it is named formally the Peak Flown From Afar.

The value of Fei Lai Feng is embodied in its natural landscape, what’s more in the aspect of its treasured grotto carving art. Fei Lai Feng Scenic Spot is one of the most important areas in possession of Southern China’s ancient grotto art, and it can be as famous as Sichuan Dazhu Stone Carvings. Especially in Qingling Grotto, Yuru Grotto, Longhong Grotto and Sheyang Grotto as well as on the cliffs around, there are more than 330 stone statue carvings varied from Five Dynasties Period to Yuan Dynasty. The most eye-catching statue is the Statue of Maitreya Buddha, who is always laughing and showing his fat chest and big belly. There is a famous couplet could be used for depicting the character of this Buddha:大肚能容容天下难容之事,开口便笑笑世间可笑之人,which means His big belly can bear all that can not be bore in the world; His laughing is for laughing at the man who deserves being laughed on the earth. This life-like statue is the biggest one among all the statues of Fei Lai Feng Scenic Spot. It is the earliest statue themed with Laughing Buddha in China and the representative of statue-making art in Song Dynasty and naturally has the high value of art. But the oldest statues of the Peak Flown From Afar is Statue of Mahāsthāmaprāpta (大势至, Da Shi Zhi, means Arrival of the great strength, who is a bodhisattva that represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha Buddha and Avalokiteśvara bodhisattva, especially in the Pure Land Buddhism), Statue of Kwan-yin and Statue of Amitābha. Nearby The Peak Flown From Afar, there is Yuru Grotto also named Jade Milk Grotto, and through Yuru Grotto, visitors get into Tongtian Grotto, in where a large rarely-seen Kwan-yin Statue is located. Going forward, it is Yi Xian Tian(一线天, A Line of Sky). In front of Yi Xian Tian, there is the famous Cold Spring, the fourth famous spring in Hangzhou.

This is a spiritual world traditionally loved by great soul. Su Dongpo(苏东坡, whose courtesy name is Zi Zhan, an unprecedented soul of China in culture and spirituality) once said:”溪山处处皆可庐,最爱灵隐飞来峰”, which means every point of brooks and hills could be house, but The Peak Flown From Afar of Lingyin Temple is my favorite.

The Buddha Statues in Lingyin Temple The Buddha Statues in Lingyin Temple
The Buddha Statue in Lingyin Temple The Ji Gong Statue in Lingyin Temple

Story about the Peak Flown From Afar

It was said that one day, Monk Ji Gong (济公, also called Dao Ji) of Lingyin Temple suddenly predicted there would be a peak flying from afar. At the time, the front of Lingyin Temple was a village. Monk Ji Gong was worried about the arrival of the unknown peak would cause casualty and he ran to the village to warn the villagers of what might happen and advised them to leave as quickly as possible. Ordinarily, in the eyes of villagers, Ji Gong acted like a mad monk and preferred to play tricks on them. They mistook Ji Gong’s advice as a trick again; hence nobody took it seriously, which made Monk Ji Gong worried. At this time, He rushed into a family where there was a wedding ceremony and took the bride rapidly out of the house. The villagers found the monk dared to get the bride away from the ceremony and hell-for-leather went after him. Suddenly the gale begun and the whole sky turned dark when they were chasing Ji Gong, and with a sound of Hong, a peak fell down to the front of Lingyin Temple. And the peak did not destroy the village at all. The villagers got aware that Monk Ji Gong saved them all. And this peak was Fei Lai Feng, the Peak Flown From Afar.

Li Gong Ta(Elder Li Pagoda)

Ligong Pagoda is the place for keeping ashes of Monk Hui Li. This pagoda is more than 8 meters high with eight angles and seven stories. It is made of stone and located nearby The Peak Flown From Afar. There is also the Pizhi Pagoda and the Forest of Tombs and Pagodas

Cold Spring(冷泉)

Cold Spring located outside of the Hall of the Heavenly Kings of Lingyin Temple. It is ranked the fourth among the famous springs of Hangzhou. Bai Juyi, a famous poet and official of Tang Dynasty and acted as the governor of Hangzhou for a certain time, had a close connection with Lingyin Temple and his famous prose Leng Quan Ting Ji(冷泉亭记, Prose of Cold Spring Pavilion), which makes Cold Spring and Lingyin Temple widely famous in Chinese Literature. Anciently, there was a tradition that each governor of Hangzhou would build up a pavilion to express his personality, and a lot of leaders built a lot of pavilions in Hangzhou such as Xubai Pavilion(虚白亭) by Xiang Li, Houxian Pavilion(候仙亭) by Han Gao, Guanfeng Pavilion(观风亭) by Pei Changdi and Jianshan Pavilion(见山亭) by Lu Yuanfu. And Lengquan Pavilion was built by Yuan Xie. Su Dongpo was said to drink and create poems in Lengquan Pavilion when he acted as governor of Hangzhou.

During Tang Dynasty, there were five pavilions around Cold Spring, but four of them were destroyed by flood. Currently, there are two pavilions respectively named Leng Quan(冷泉)and He Lei(壑雷) Lei He Pavilion was built in Song Dynasty and named after some words from Su Dongpo’s poem:” 不知水从何处来,跳波赴壑如奔雷”, which mean I do not know where the water comes but the jumping wave like the rapid thundering rushes to the gully. On the Pavilion of Leng Quan, there is a famous couplet:”泉自几时冷起,峰从何处飞来”, which means When does the spring become cold? and Where does the peak fly here? 

Yunlin Sutra Library (Lingyin Library)

Buddhist sutras are complicated and all-inclusive. The Buddhist sutras as well as the related treatises are the main learning resources for monks and nuns as well as the male and female pilgrims, who altogether are called”四众弟子”, Four Kinds of Disciples. In 2003, Yunlin Sutra Library was established to serve a tranquility, harmony and spiritual habitat to those pilgrims living in earthly world

In fact, as early as the time in the reign of Emperor Daoguang of Qing Dynasty, Ruan Yuan(阮元, 1764~1849), a famous national study scholar and high official of Qing government, set up Lingyin Library in Lingyin Temple, which could be regarded as the earliest public library of China. Today’s library is largely different from that built by Ruan Yuan. It aims at giving the comers an environment and resources to study sutra and cultivate them themselves in spirit.

Zhi Chi Xi Tian(咫尺西天, Western Paradise Nearby)

Zhi Chi Xi Tian is a large screen with Chinese traditional style of architecture opposite to the main gate of Lingyin Temple. Firstly it is highly praised for its artistic value of calligraphy. Secondly, Zhi Chi Xi Tian has a deep meaning in the aspect of philosophy of Buddhism, especially close to Lingyin Temple. Zhi Chi just roughly means the western paradise is only between 0.8 and one foot away from where this screen located to the location of Lingyin Temple. In other words, entering Lingyin Temple is coming into the Western Paradise. It is really easy to find how important Lingyin Temple in Chinese Buddhism culture and philosophy.

Hangzhou lingyin temple
The Large-Scale Screen with Four Huge Characters of Zhi Chi Xi Tian(western paradise within reach)Opposite to the Gate of Lingyin Temple

Famous Buddhist Monks in Hangzhou Lingyin Temple

Yongming Yanshou (904-975), lived in early Song Dynasty, was the master of China’s sixth generation of Jingtu Zong(Pure Land School, 净土宗). His original surname was Wang and courtesy name was Chong Yuan. His was born at Yu Hang of Zhejiang province. Since his childhood, he believed Buddhism and got rid of animal killing and saved the life. Used to act as different officials of government, at the age of 30, Yongming Yanshou entered into religion of Buddhism in Longce Temple. In 960, Qian Chu, the king of Wuyue Kingdom invited him to take charge of reconstructing Hangzhou Lingyin Temple and rebuilt more than 130 halls and pavilions. Lingyin Temple was resurgent. In 961, he took charge of Yongming Temple(永明寺), also famously known as Jingci Temple(净慈寺). Qian Chu entitled him Zhi Jue Cha Shi(智觉禅师, Master of Wisdom) and the followers learning from him were more than 2000. In 970, Yongming Yanshou was allocated to build Liu He Ta(Six Harmony Pagoda, 六和塔) on Yuelun Peak nearby Qiantang River. Based on his considerations to the different schools of Zen Branch of Buddhism, he tried to write out his masterpiece titled Zong Jing Lu(宗镜录).

Monk Ji Gong was quite famous in folk society of China and highly respected by the mass. A lot of folk legendary stories are closely associated with him. He also was depicted to be a monk with unique personality and strong superpower to help the common people in trouble and penalized these ill-conditioned people. Monk Ji Gong was a favorite person in history of China. Ji Gong was a truly existed person in Chinese history, He was born in 1148 and died in 1209. His original name was Li Xinyuan(李心远) and Buddhist name Ji Gong. He was born in Taizhou of Zhejiang province. He entered Buddhism in Lingyin Temple. His life experience was depicted wizardly. He was the representative of Hangzhou traditional culture, especially the folk culture.

Guan Xiu whose courtesy name was De Yin born in Lan Xi. His original surname was Jiang. Guan Xiu was versatile and specialized in prose and poem. Used to live in Lingyin Temple, he was a famous talented monk in the realm of making poems. In Chinese literature history, he was an unavoidable man. His masterpiece was named Chan Yue Ji(禅月集, Zen Moon Collection)

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 The Travel Guide of Hangzhou

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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