Five Houses of Chan
The Five Houses of Chan (also called the Five Houses of Zen) were the five major schools of Chan Buddhism that originated during Tang China. Most Chán lineages throughout Asia and the rest of the world originally grew from or were heavily influenced by the original five houses of Chán.
The Five Houses
The five houses were each defined by a unique method of teaching. Each school's methods were significantly different from the others, though it was not unheard of for teachers from one school to use the methods of another.
The Guiyang school (潙仰宗 Guíyáng, Jpn. Igyō) was the first established school of the Five Houses of Zen. Guiyang is named after master Guishan Lingyou (771–854) (Kuei-shan Ling-yu, Jpn. Isan Reiyū) and his student, Yangshan Huiji (807-883, or 813–890) (Yang-shan Hui-chi, Jpn. Kyōzan Ejaku).
Guishan was a disciple of Baizhang Huaihai, the Chinese Zen master whose disciples included Huangbo Xiyun (who in turn taught Línjì Yìxuán, founder of the Linji School). After founding the Guiyang School, Yangshan moved his school to what is now modern Jiangxi.
Over the course of Song Dynasty (960–1279), the Guiyang school, along with the Fayan and Yunmen schools were absorbed into the Linji school. Chán master Hsu Yun, however, attempted to revive absorbed lineages. The attempt was successful regarding the Guiyang school, Hsuan Hua being its most known modern representative.
The Linji (Chinese: 临济宗; pinyin: Lín jì zōng) was named after Chán master Línjì Yìxuán, who was notable for teaching students in ways that included shouting and striking in an attempt to help students reach enlightenment. The Linji school is the predominant Chinese Chán school.
The Caodong school was founded by Dongshan Liangjie and his Dharma-heirs in the 9th century. Some attribute the name "Cáodòng" as a union of "Dongshan" and "Caoshan" from one of his Dharma-heirs, Caoshan Benji; however, the "Cao" could also have come from Cáoxī (曹溪), the "mountain-name" of Huineng, the Sixth Ancestor of Chan. The sect emphasized sitting meditation, and later "silent illumination" techniques.
In 826 Korean Seon Master Doui, a student of Sixth Ancestor of Chan Huineng, brought Chan/Seon (Korean Zen) to Korea and founded the "Nine Mountain Seon Monasteries" which adopted the name Jogye order.
In 1227 Dōgen Zenji, a former Tendai student, studied Caodong Buddhism and returned to Japan to establish the Sōtō school. The Caodong school is still a respectable Chinese Chán school and is second only to Linji in number of monks and temples.
The Yunmen school was named for Yunmen Wenyan. The school thrived into the early Song Dynasty, with particular influence on the upper classes, and culminated in the final compilation of the Blue Cliff Record. Later during the Song Dynasty, the school was absorbed into the Linji school. The lived on into the modern era through Master Hsu Yun (1840–1959).
The Five Houses during the Song Dynasty
Over the course of Song dynasty (960–1279), the Guiyang, Fayan, and Yunmen houses were gradually absorbed into the Linji house. Caodong was transmitted to Japan in the 13th century from Ven. Rujing of Tiantong Temple to Ven. Dōgen leading to the creation of the Sōtō Zen school.
- Gethin 1998, p. 263.
- Harvey 2013, p. 222.
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- Koole 1997, p. 207.
- Ven. Jian Hu. "Buddhism in the Modern World" Stanford University, May 25, 2006, p. 1
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