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A visit to Jiufeng Monastery, home of Chan's most famous female "Patriarch"

Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 1:25 pm
by zhufawuwo
Hi everyone. Happened to pay a visit to JIangxi Province's Jiufeng Monastery 九峰禪寺 this weekend. Wanted to share some pictures and some stories.

Odds are many of you won't have heard of Jiufeng, but you might have heard of the monastery's most famous "patriarch" (祖師), Moshan Liaoran 末山了然, also known as 了然禪師 in Chinese. I use scare quotes because Moshan Liaoran was very much a woman, and one of the most famous female Dharma heirs in the history of Chan Buddhism. She is the only woman to be graced with the honor of inclusion in the 景德傳燈錄 Transmission of the Lamp from the Jingde Period. (Incidentally, 了然 means either "completely understood" or "completed as such." It is one of the most simple but profound Dharma names I have encountered.)

Today, Dhyana Master Liaoran's stupa rests in the mountains above Jiufeng Monastery, which is now one of China's rare "public monastery" for female monastics in the Chan tradition. ("Public monastery" is a marginal rendition of 十方叢林, which refers to a large monastery of learning and practice where any monastic can come and take up residence 掛單.)

Before I share the most famous story involving Moshan Liaoran, some pictures.
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The monastery, hiding amongst mountains and rain.
Jiufeng3.jpg (286.45 KiB) Viewed 488 times
The entrance to the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings 天王殿.
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Humongous prayer wheels outside the Main Hall 大雄寶殿. (Actually only reconstructed in 2016. The monastery is on the up-and-up.)