The Hongzhou School: Huangbo

by tendo zenji


Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Nanyue Huairang
Mazu Daoyi
Baizhang Huaihai
Huangbo Xiyun

Huangbo was the teacher of Linji from whence the dominate Linji school formed.

Huangbo in the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp

HUANGBO XIYUN (d. 850) was the disciple of Baizhang and the teacher of Linji Yixuan. He came from ancient Fuzhou. As a youth, he entered a monastery on Mt. Huangbo in his home province. Later, he traveled to the district of Gao’an where he resided at Mt. Huangbo (Xiyun renamed the mountain after his old mountain home in Fuzhou). Huangbo also traveled and lived at Mt. Tiantai, as well as the capital city of Changan, where he received instruction from National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong. Huangbo’s physical appearance was striking. He had a large protruding forehead that was whimsically described as a “large pearl.” Regarded as a teacher with simple methods and few words, Huangbo embodied Mahayana Buddhism’s bodhisattva ideal by adhering to the vow to defer the fruit of enlightenment until all other beings can first enjoy it. A famous legend about Huangbo provides a metaphorical teaching on this vow. – Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 133)

House Tune

Huangbo was taking his leave of Nanquan. Nanquan accompanied Huangbo to the monastery gate. Lifting up Huangbo’s hat, Nanquan said, “Elder, your physical size is not large, but isn’t your hat too small?” Huangbo said, “Although that’s true, still the entire universe can fit inside it.” Nanquan said, “Teacher Wang!” Huangbo then put on his hat and left.- Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 135)

If a monk asked Huangbo, “Why did the First Ancestor come from the west?” Huangbo would hit him. Through these and other methods, his students realized the highest function. Those of middling or inferior ability have never understood the master’s greatness. Huangbo passed away in [the year 850] on the mountain where he lived and taught. He received the posthumous name “Zen Master Removing Limits.” – Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 138)


Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary
Thomas Cleary
Shambhala (April 12, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1590302184

The Zen Teachings of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind
Join Blofed
Grove Press (January 18, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0802150926

A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace: The Zen Teaching of Huangbo with a Modern Commentary
Seon Master Subul
Wisdom Publications (April 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1614295301

Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism
by Mario Poceski
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0195319966