Welcome to the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun
from Chuan Zhi Shakya
What is Zen? There is no way to describe in words the nature of the spiritual mind, but be that as it may, those who have encountered it can not help but try, for it's something that moves us in a most profound way. It's natural for us to want to share these experiences with others so that they, too, might share our joy. All world religions offer a mystical path: a path that is outside and beyond our normal, conditioned, modes of thinking and behaving. Buddhism's mystical path is Chan (Zen). It is in the context of both ancient and contemporary teachings that we offer resources and guidance for those interested in learning more about Chan Buddhism.
Chan defies definition, but we can say that it was dominanty the result of the blending of Indian Buddhism and Chinese Taoism. While each of these mystical traditions are infinetly complex systems when studied empirically, Chan becomes infinitely simple when applied directly to our lives. Perhaps ironically, there is nothing to teach when it comes to Chan because the knowledge of Chan is within each of us: all we can do is point a seeker in the direction that he or she can find it within themselves. Spiritual authority comes only from within.
We present in these pages "spiritual exercises," thoughts and teachings from a variety of sources, and offer support from a like-minded group of individuals. The Chan path is difficult because it requires that we change ourselves: the way we think, the way we act toward ourselves and others, and even the way we feel about things. In short, we must "undo" ourselves to discover who we truly are ... underneath who it is we think we are. It requires vigilance, devotion, and, perhaps most importantly, faith -- faith that we, ourselves, hold the ultimate answer that our inner beings seek. As Hotei points to the moon we ask our selves what is his message? Is it the moon? Is it the Finger? It is neither. What is it?
In the Chan teaching tradition, "anything goes" as long as it serves to point the seeker in the right direction and causes no harm. A novice to Chan may initially be uncomfortable with the lack of firm rules and regulations, dogmas and belief-structures that Chan historically has regarded as dangerous to spiritual development; however, complete freedom of Self is the ultimate goal of Chan and this relies on our growing ability to discard attachments to all forms of structured thought and action.
The Order of Hsu Yun Website offers a wide variety of materials for those interested in learning about Chan, from poetry and art, to essays by our clergy and visitors, traditional Mahayana scriptures, chants and prayers, selected writings from spiritual teachers of other religious traditions, and more. In the spirit of Chan, we always welcome your feedback, questions, and comments.
I hope you find something of value in the writings and other works presented here.
May the Infinite Light shine eternally, and may we all come to realize our fundamental inter-connectedness with each other, and all that is.
- Chuan Zhi
History and Background of OHY
by Fa Dao Shakya
Founding of the Order
The Zen (Chan) Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun (ZBOHY) was founded on November 8, 1997 by Grandmaster Jy Din Shakya, Abbot and founder of Hsu Yun Temple in Honolulu. The event coincided with an ordination ceremony in which he named Chuan Zhi Shakya after himself, a rare honor bestowed to a disciple. The subsequent year, in May 1998, Grandmaster Jy Din escorted Rev. Chuan Zhi to China where he received full ordination in a month-long ceremony at Hong Fa temple. At the end of the ceremony, Chuan Zhi was entered into the ledgers of the International Buddhist Registry as Abbot of The Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun (Hsu Yun Chan Yuan: 虛 雲 禪 苑).
Grandmaster Hsu Yun
Master Hsu Yun is considered the most famous Chinese Chan (Zen) master of the 20th Century in China and other parts of the world. He is known best for his tireless effort at spreading the Dharma during his exceptionally long life.
According to the sparse records available, Hsu Yun was born in approximately 1839 in Guangzhou province. In his youth he enjoyed reading about Chan Buddhism and it was during his teen years that he decided to enter monastic life despite strong family opposition. He was ordained at Gu Shan temple in 1859 by Grandmaster Miao-lian at age 20.
During his long lifetime, Hsu Yun traveled throughout China and Southeast Asia giving lectures and assisting with intensive Chan practice retreats. His passion, bringing Chan to the forefront of consciousness in China, led him to the restoration of numerous monasteries and temples that had fallen into extensive disrepair, many abandoned due to aging and lack of interest. Among these was Nan Hua temple, founded by the Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng. Hsu Yun not only rebuilt and revitalized this famous temple; he founded a religious school on the grounds to teach Buddhism, as well as a primary school to help provide for the many young children of the region who would otherwise have had poor, or no, education.
Grandmaster Hsu Yun died in October of 1959, at Zhen Ru monastery. By available accounts, he was 120 years old.
More about Hsu Yun's teachings can be found here.
Grandmaster Jy Din Shakya
Grandmaster Jy Din Shakya was born on November 17, 1917 to a wealthy business family in China. He survived both the Japanese invasion of China in World War II and the later Chinese Communist attacks on religious activities. During a visit in 1934 to Nan Hua Monastery, Jy Din first met Master Hsu Yun: "Something happened to me when I looked into his face," he wrote later, "I suddenly dropped to my knees and pressed my forehead to the ground, kowtowing to him. My friends were all astonished. I had never kowtowed to anybody in my life."
After much encouragement from Master Hsu Yun to become a monk at the temple, he was ordained at Nan Hua Monastery in 1937. Jy Din was to become Hsu Yun's translator as he later traveled throughout China teaching Chan Buddhism.
In 1949, Master Jy Din was directed by Hsu Yun to move to Hawaii to establish a Buddhist temple for the many Chinese immigrants who had moved there. By 1956 enough money was raised to build a traditional Chinese-style temple at 42 Kawananakoa Place in Honolulu. Master Jy Din named it the Hsu Yun Temple after his beloved master.
After decades of service to the local Chinese ethnic population of Hawaii, Master Jy Din recognized the self-limiting nature of a temple that, by it's Chinese ethnic nature, effectively excluded non-Chinese ethnic populations.
In the 1990's he became aware of the power of the Internet as a means to spread the teachings of Buddhism to other parts of the world. In 1998 he elevated his disciple and heir, Chuan Zhi, to Abbot of the Order of Hsu Yun and included a mandate that the order continue its online presence for the promotion and study of Zen.
Master Jy Din passed away at 85 years of age on March 13, 2003, after a long and difficult illness. Jeanne Lum, a member of the Temple Board said of him: "His major principle was to accept things. And he never complained, never scolded or got angry at anyone, and always believed that if you would just do kindness to a bad person the person gradually would change." Leadership of the Hsu Yun temple was passed on to Master Fa Wai Shakya.
A biographical account of the life of Master Jy Din can be found here.
Chuan Zhi Shakya
Chuan Zhi was born on October 12, 1960 in Lafayette, Indiana, United States. He received his undergraduate degree in Physics in 1983 and spent the following two years teaching mathematics and physics in Bogotá, Colombia. Upon returning to the United States, he continued his education in Physics at Purdue University before joining the workforce as an experimental physicist in 1986. After a long fascination with Zen Buddhism he became ordained under Grandmaster Jy Din Shakya (November 8, 1997). Chuan Zhi received ordination at Hong Fa temple in China in 1998 under Grandmasters Jy Din, Ben Huan, Shou Ye and others.
Master Fa Hui Shakya
Master Fa Hui was ordained by Master Chuan Ying Shakya on August 15th, 1945, the day Japan surrendered to the Western Allies, ending the war in the Pacific. He became Abbot of Hsu Yun Temple shortly before the passing of Grandmaster Jy Din and has been instrumental in the ongoing evolution of ZBOHY.
When asked if he would like to give a message to the ZBOHY community he replied: "People must be careful: once you enter the Chan path, do not let yourself go off in another direction. Stay on the Path. Many people think that by switching to other paths, or by mixing different paths together, they will attain Buddhahood faster and more easily. It doesn't work that way. Follow a straight course and don't take turns that lead away from Chan. Keep your practice simple, and keep your practice strong. Be kind to people and don't get involved in conflicts."
Hui Neng, the Sixth and last Patriarch of Chan, founded his order in 675 AD at his monastery which he named Bao Lin Ji. It latter came to be known as Nan Hua Si. This historic temple is located roughly 100 miles north of Guang Zhou on the Caoxi Little River. Through a succession of Dharma Heirs, the lineage to Hui Neng continues through many branches around the world. According to documented Chinese records, Master Hsu Yun was 54 generations from Hui Neng and his heir, Jy Din, was 55th generation. [The lineage sequence is contained in a poem which lists, in chronological sequence, Dharma names given from master to disciple. Once the list has been completed, it returns to the beginning and repeats. For example, Jy (Zhi) gives the first name "Chuan" (56th generation), Chuan gives the name "Fa" (57th generation), Fa gives the name "Yin" (58th generation), and Yin gives the name "Zheng" (59th generation). For a look into the value and pitfalls of the lineage system, read Rev. Chuan Zhi's essay series, Western Zen: Transition and Turmoil.]
The Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun (ZBOHY) under the guidance of Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya is represented on the www.hsuyun.org and www.xuyun.org websites and is not associated with other groups or websites that might represent themselves as ZBOHY in the United States or other countries unless acknowledged as affiliated groups on our website. Because of our mandate to abstain from political agendas, ZBOHY is also not associated with the Fa Lun Gong or other religious-political groups outlawed in China or elsewhere.
Individual opinions expressed by clergy of ZBOHY do not necessarily reflect those of ZBOHY as a whole, the Board of Directors, or the Founders or Spiritual Heads of the Order.
A note on word Usage: "Zen" or "Chan"?
"Zen" and "Chan" are both cognates of the term Dhyana, meaning "to dwell" or to meditate. Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character Chan. Since the term, Zen, was the first to make its way to the west, it is more universally used. For this reason, ZBOHY uses the two terms interchangeably.
Chinese Pinyin spellings (the contemporary Chinese standard) are used in preference to Wade Giles spellings now found almost exclusively in Taiwan. Even with the pinyin standard, Chinese words are often spelled differently depending on the time and location of origin and local dialect; therefore, there may arise discrepancies in spellings of names and locations with other literature.
Ultimately, the practice and study of Chan is both a personal pursuit and a sangha (community) pursuit. It is not the intention of ZBOHY to demand strict conformity of practice. Rather, it is our goal to present classical and contemporary Chan teachings, methods and principles in the Western idiom as a guide to those wending their own way along the Path.
It is our purpose and intention to present the teachings of the Hsu Yun/Lin Chi lineage in a way that makes them readily accessible and understandable to Western Practitioners. It is our hope to offer the benefit of an international sangha to our affiliated groups and lone seekers alike.
We humbly offer that which we have been given -- modern western understandings and approaches to the Dao of the classical Southern Chan masters.
Rev. Fa Dao Shakya, Director, OHY