Late Venerable Bai Yun (1915-2011), the 40th Patriarch of the Linji Sect and the 9th Grand Master of the Tian Yue Ch’an order
Venerable Bai Yun comes from the Linji Sect of Buddhism, the sole lineage of the Xuyin Ch’an Master. At the age of seven, he was ordained as a Buddhist novice. At 21, he graduated from the Hunan National University majoring in Chinese Literature. In the same year, he was officially ordained as a monk at the Guaiyuan Temple in Hanyang, a Vinaya Sect Monastery. For the three years that followed, he travelled widely in China, paying homage to accomplished monks of various orders and visited reputed temple sites for cultivation. At 24, he became resident Abbot at Leiyin Temple in Fuqiu Mountains. Four years later, he was seconded to take charge of “The Little South Heaven” at Fanyin Temple in Tianyue Mountains.
At 37, Venerable Bai Yun arrived in Taiwan where he started his life with a 10 year service in the military before returning to his former status as a monk to work on his Ch’an cultivation of breaking free of form, judgement and attachment. In autumn of 1964, he was sent to Biyun Temple at Kwanchailing where he stayed till 1973 when he was invited to be Abbot of the Bodhi Temple. In the following year, on request of his Master Xu Yin, Venerable Bai Yun founded the Qianfoshan (Thousand Buddha Mountain), a new order in the line of the Linji Sect of Fuqiu branch was born in Taiwan. From 1998 onwards, all monks ordained under Venerable Bai Yun would inherit and follow the Tianyue Mountain school of Pingyangtong.
In order to bring Buddhist teachings closer to city people in Taiwan and in response to the popular demands, Qianfoshan Kaoshiung Lecture Hall was established on the 4th August 1991. This was followed by the opening of the Taipei Lecture Hall and the Taichung Lecture Hall in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Today, branches of the Qianfoshan United Merits Foundation can be found all over Taiwan. They include the Taipei Lecture Hall, Tianyue Mountain Tucheng Lecture Hall, Sanxia Qianfoshan Huade Ch’an Temple in the north; Qianfoshan Taichung Lecture Hall, Fuqiu Mountain Kooyan Ch’an Temple and Tianyue Mountain Ka Yi Lecture Hall. In Southern Taiwan, there are the Tai Nan Bodhi Temple, Jiaxian Tianyue Mountain Fanyin Ch’an Temple, and Meilong Foohui Temple in Central Taiwan; Qianfoshan Kaoshiung Lecture Hall and Nazi Lecture Hall in the south.
In addition to the new venues for teaching, Venerable Bai Yun also founded the Chinese Buddhist Society, the Qianfoshan Charity Foundation Incorporated and the Jinqxi Broadcasting Company. As a disciple of the Buddha, Venerable Bai Yun has inherited the Tathagata line of Buddha’s teaching and vowed to carry on the Buddha’s legacy. As the guardian of Qianfoshan, he has pledged to observe the Buddha’s vows as his own, taken on the Buddha’s goals as his own and carried on the Buddha’s work as his own, such as the commitments he has undertaken in his vocation in spreading the Buddha’s wisdom to benefit all sentient beings in this Dharma Ending Era.