Textual research on the life history and contributions of Gaoyuan Mingyu, the great master of the Consciousness-only School and the Huayan School in the Ming Dynasty

YANG Weizhong1,2

(1.Center for Chinese and American Studies, Nanjing University)
(2.Philosophy Department, Nanjing University)
【Knowledge Link】Buddhist Association of China

【Abstract】In the history of carrying forward the Huayan School and the Consciousness-only School in the Ming and Qing dynasties, Gaoyuan Mingyu (ca. 1544–1633) was once a great contributor. Mingyu became a fully ordained monk in Sichuan and left there for Zhongnan Mountain around the tenth year of Wanli in the Ming Dynasty (1582), where he met an unusual person who passed on the Cheng Weishi Lun (成唯识论, Discourse on the Perfection of Consciousness-only) to him. After nine years of study in the central Shaanxi plain, Mingyu went to Yanjing (later known as Beijing) in the nineteenth year of Wanli in the Ming Dynasty and headed southwards for places in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River like Jiangsu and Zhejiang in the twenty third year of Wanli, from which time onward he became the abbot of Xingfu Temple in Changshu and was honored as the founding master. The completion and publication of the Cheng Weishi Lun Su Quan (成唯识论俗诠, Popular Interpretation of Cheng Weishi Lun) marked the revitalization of the Consciousness-only School in the late Ming Dynasty. Mingyu preached the Cheng Weishi Lun in Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Yanjing, and contributed greatly to the revitalization of the Consciousness-only School. In his later years, Mingyu returned to his hometown Pengxi and presided over the reconstruction of the Qinglian Temple, enjoying a high reputation among local people. In the early Qing Dynasty, his disciple Yusheng Mingshan and his grand disciple Lexiu Huishan (1624–1690) promoted the Huayan School and the Consciousness-only School in Beijing. Mingyu was listed as one of the legitimate patriarchs in the genealogical tree of the Huayan School in the Qing Dynasty, and the lineage headed by Gaoyuan had remained one of the major lineages of the Huayan School in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties and even until the period of the Republic of China.

【Keywords】 Consciousness-only School in the Ming Dynasty; Gaoyuan Mingyu; Huayan School in the Ming and Qing dynasties; Cheng Weishi Lun Su Quan; Xingfu Temple in Changshu;

【DOI】

【Funds】 The National Social Science Fund of China (12BZJ004) The National Social Science Fund of China (13AZD030)

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    [1]. ① Shengyan. Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies (中华佛学学报), (1): 1–41 (1987). [^Back]

    [2]. ① The book was compiled by Cheng Jiasui in the late Ming Dynasty. Cheng Jiasui (1565–1644), courtesy name Mengyang, was born in Xiuning (a county in today’s Anhui Province) in the Ming Dynasty and migrated to Jiading. His publications include the Song Yuan Lang Tao Ji (松圆浪淘集) in eighteen volumes, the Ji An Ji (偈庵集) in two volumes, and the Ou Geng Tang Ji (耦耕堂集) in five volumes. His biography is attached at the end of the Biography of Tang Shisheng in the Biographies of Litterateurs in the History of Ming (明史·文苑传). In the late Ming Dynasty, Cheng Jiasui compiled the Annals of the Xingfu Temple, to which a preface was contributed by Qian Qianyi in 1642. The compilation of the book is a pioneering work, so its heterogeneous stylistic rules and layouts are unavoidable. The version of this book in the Ming Dynasty should have comprised only four volumes. The first volume is dedicated to topographical advantages, attached with the literary works of past dynasties. The second volume is about the funerary stupas of four eminent monks: Huaishu, Changda, Yancheng, and Wu’en. The third volume is related to the history of the temple’s reconstruction after the Ming Dynasty. The fourth volume consists of the biographical sketches of five prominent monks in the Ming Dynasty: Haizhou, Wuzhu, Bo’an, Dongwen, and Dengci. The fifth volume contains only two articles: the Alms-collecting Pamphlet for Reconstruction of the Great Buddha’s Hall and the Particular Events during Reconstruction of the Great Buddha’s Hall of the Xingfu Temple. The book was preprinted in the 15th year of Chongzhen in the Ming Dynasty (1642). The preprint was initially collected by Tie Qin Tong Jian Lou (the private library of the Qu Family), and then owned by the Jingshi Library and now is kept by the Library of Taiwan on behalf of Beiping Library (today’s Beijing Library). In this preprint, the fifth volume contains the Alms-collecting Pamphlet for Reconstruction of the Great Buddha’s Hall in the 32nd year of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, indicating that the book was probably printed during the years under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, or the fifth volume might have been added by later generations. The Annals of the Xingfu Temple at Mount Poshan in Changshu, the 35th volume in the first series of the Zhongguo Fosi Shizhi Huikan (中国佛寺史志汇刊) published by the Mingwen Book Company in Taipei in 1980 is the photocopy of this edition. [^Back]

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    [10]. ⑥ Qian Qianyi once said that Master Mingyu had served as the abbot of Xingfu Temple for over a decade. If the 34th year of Wanli (1606) as recorded in the Annals of the Xingfu Temple is the lower limit of the period in which Mingyu served as the abbot, then it is natural to come to this conclusion. [^Back]

    [11]. ⑦ [Ming] Cheng, J. 常熟县破山兴福寺志, Vol. 4, p. 122. [^Back]

    [12]. ① 常熟县破山兴福寺志, Vol. 3, p. 115. [^Back]

    [13]. ② 常熟县破山兴福寺志, Vol. 3, p. 112. [^Back]

    [14]. ③ ⑤ ⑧ 常熟县破山兴福寺志, Vol. 4, p. 122. [^Back]

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    [18]. ⑨ It can be speculated from the materials below that the word “died” here should be changed to the word “left.” [^Back]

    [19]. ① His father Qian Shiyang died on the 16th day of the fifth lunar month of the 38th year of Wanli (1610). [^Back]

    [20]. ② The name “Yuangong” mentioned here may probably not refer to Gaoyuan Mingyu. By consulting relevant literature, the author found the name “Yuangong” in the Narrative of Construction of the Ruiguang Temple, the 42nd volume of the Anthology of Qian Qianyi (初学集). At its beginning, the article reads, “At my age of fifteen or sixteen, Lanyuan Yuangong, the abbot of the Ruiguang Temple, had association with my deceased father. Over thirty years went by since then, and what still lingers vividly on my mind is that my deceased father stopped his boat, laid down his travelling bags and greeted Yuangong with a broad smile. Every time passing by the door of the temple, I could not bear to enter but turned my vehicle round in tears. Yuangong resided at the backyard of the temple and often asked a novice monk to guide me in sightseeing on the dilapidated temple. The halls and rooms inside looked bleak and chilly, funerary stupas were overgrown with weeds at the foot, and the surrounding brick walls could barely be recognized. There were leaking roofs on the corridors, with wrecked walls and rotten woods supporting the pictures and statues of the Buddha and making squeaky noises. Both of us looked back and left in a hurry.” (Anthology of Qian Qianyi, Vol. 42, p. 1106). In the 24th year of Wanli (1596), Qian Qianyi followed his father Qian Shiyang (1554–1610) to arrive at the Ruiguang Temple in Suzhou. The temple was located in the south of Suzhou. During the Chongzhen period, Qian Qianyi and Wen Zhenmeng (1574–1636) were the leaders among the advocates of repairing this temple, and the repair was completed within a few years later. The person who had been in charge of the work throughout the years was Yuanjing, the monk who guided Qian Qianyi in sightseeing on the dilapidated temple as mentioned in Qian Qianyi’ article above. Yuanjing passed away in the 20th year of Chongzhen at the age of 52. The Biography and Eulogy of Chan Master Liaoyi Dingyuan from Ruiguang Temple is included in the eighth volume of the General Doctrines by Master Ouyi (灵峰蕅益大师宗论). The article reads, “Chan Master Liaoyi, born to a Zhou family in Changzhou County, was in his childhood known for his strong sense of justice among the people in the neighborhood. At the age of 23, he suddenly intended to become a monk and served his apprenticeship with Lanyuan Yuangong at the Ruiguang Temple under the name of Dingyuan. And then he read a gatha saying “treading on steelyard weights as hard as iron” and quite felt a loss, so he pondered over it day and night and figured out somewhat. He was also confused by how to be impenetrable to evils and then began to understand after years of meditation. When Chan Master Zhanran from the Yunmen Temple visited Wu area, Liaoyi expressed his opinions which were affirmed by Master Zhanran. Afterwards, he only chanted the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment at night and read Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in the daytime. The way he conducted himself in relation to others remained the same without any change.” (Jia Xing Zang, Vol. 36, p. 387) Chan Master Dingyuan passed away on the 26th day of the 12th lunar month of the 44th year of Wanli (1616), at his age of 46, and 24 years after his ordination ceremony. The specific date when Lanyuan Yuangong passed away was unknown. It can be inferred from the death year of his disciple Dingyuan, namely the 44th year of Wanli, and other materials, that it had possibly been several years since the death of Lanyuan Yuangong when Qian Qianyi wrote the epilogue above in the 40th year of Wanli. On that account, Qian Qianyi wrote this sentence “I lamented over not only the death of Master Yuangong.” [^Back]

    [21]. ③ His son was a monk of the Xingfu Temple. [^Back]

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    [29]. ④ As shown above, the construction of the Great Hall in the Xingfu Temple was completed under the supervision of Mingyu in the 32nd year of Wanli. Obviously, Mingyu returned to the Xingfu Temple again afterward. [^Back]

    [30]. ⑤ 锦江禅灯, Vol. 20 in The Shinsan Dainihon Zokuzokyo, Vol. 85, p. 225. [^Back]

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    [42]. ③ The year was wrong as there was no the so-called “26th year of Chenghua.” [^Back]

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    [60]. ⑩ Wang, S. & Huang, W. in 中国佛寺志丛刊, Vol. 3, p. 214. [^Back]

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    [65]. ⑨ Dayi lived at a remote vihara in the mountains, so, presumably, Monastic Manger Yiyun should be a monk of the Southern Guanyin Temple. [^Back]

    [66]. The Shinsan Dainihon Zokuzokyo, Vol. 32, p. 539. [^Back]

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    [69]. ④ Dayi’s first sentence in the History of Compiling a Complete Collection of the Saddharmapundarika Sutra is that “Since receiving ordination in Nanjing in the jia-wu year,” with no mention of whether he became a monk in his childhood, so it can be inferred roughly that he was tonsured at the age of over 17 or 18. In this case, if he was still alive at that time, then he was at least 67 or 68. [^Back]

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This Article

ISSN:1000-4289

CN: 11-1299/B

Vol , No. 02, Pages 52-63

April 2017

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Abstract

  • 1 Gaoyuan Mingyu’s years of birth and death
  • 2 Gaoyuan Mingyu’s activities in his early years
  • 3 Mingyu’s activities in the Xingfu Temple
  • 4 Gaoyuan Mingyu’s writings and activities for carrying forward the Consciousness-only School
  • 5 Gaoyuan Mingyu’s activities in his later life
  • 6 Gaoyuan Mingyu’s disciples and development of his Chan lineage
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