Juefan (Huihong)

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Juefan Huihong (1071–1128) was a Buddhist monk and poet active primarily during the tumultuous reign of the Chinese emperor Song Huizong (r. 1101–1125). Huihong promoted an approach to Buddhism he called literary Chan (wenzi Chan) that incorporated poetry, painting, and scholarship on religious and secular books, with contemporary Chan school practices. Several prominent literati including Zhang Shangying (1043–1122) and Huang Tingjian (1045–1105) befriended Huihong and advocated his literary Chan, helping to ensure his lasting fame.

Huihong became a monk after he lost his parents at the age of fourteen and was ordained at nineteen. During his early years he primarily studied YogĀcĀra school texts. In 1092 Huihong became a pupil of Zhenjing Kewen (1025–1102), a legendary Chan teacher from the Huanglong collateral branch of the Linji lineage. Between 1092 and 1105, Huihong investigated the sūtras and Chan literature, and visited sacred sites throughout southern China. In 1105 Huihong was jailed for the first of four incarcerations because of his connections to a faction opposed to Huizong's anti-Buddhist policies. Huihong's disfavor at court earned him an exile to Hainan island in 1112–1113. During this time Huihong turned to writing and reading poetry for solace and compiled a treatise on poetic criticism called the Lengzhai yehua (Evening Discourses from a Cold Studio). In addition, Huihong finished work on his somewhat unorthodox discourse record, the Linjian lu (Anecdotes from theGroves [of Chan]), and one of the earliest commentaries to the Śūraṅgama-sūtra (Chinese, Shoulengyan jing; Heroic March Sūtra). During the last decade of his life, Huihong finished compiling the Chanlin sengbao zhuan (Chronicles of the San˙gha Jewel within the Groves of Chan) with eighty-four biographies.

See also:Chan Art; China; Poetry and Buddhism


Gimello, Robert M. "Mārga and Culture: Learning, Letters, and Liberation in Northern Sung Ch'an." In Paths to Liberation: The Mārga and Its Transformations in Buddhist Thought, ed. Robert E. Buswell, Jr. and Robert M. Gimello. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992.

Keyworth, George. "Transmitting the Lamp of Learning in Classical Chan Buddhism: Juefan Huihong (1071–1128) and Literary Chan." Ph.D. diss. University of California, Los Angeles, 2001.

George A. Keyworth