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Celebrating the Legacy of Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryūki) and the Art of Ōbaku

Celebrating the Legacy of Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryuki) and the Art of Ōbaku

The anniversary of an eminent master’s death is an important occasion for commemoration in much of the Buddhist world.

The year 2022 marks the 350th death anniversary of Zen Master Yinyuan Longqi (隱元隆琦 1592-1673, Ingen Ryūki in Japanese). Special ceremonies and events will be held in both Japan and China to honor this great Zen master. In North America, the Center for Buddhist Studies, College of Humanities at the University of Arizona is organizing a series of commemorative events which will run for one year beginning May 3, 2022. These events will present and explore the extraordinary life of Zen Master Yinyuan and the great achievements of the Huangbo 黃檗 Chan tradition (known as the Ōbaku school of Zen Buddhism in Japan)  that Yinyuan pioneered in China and Japan. These events highlight the intersection between religion, art, and culture in China and Japan and will be presented in both online and offline formats. Activities will include an online exhibition of works of art related to the Ōbaku tradition, academic lectures, musical performances, and tea-related events.

Coming This Fall – Tea Ceremony Demonstration by Sakura Tea Circle

The Japanese Tea Ceremony, also known as chado or chanoyu, is a traditional way to appreciate tea. With the host preparing and presenting the matcha tea to the guest, it is also considered an art for this ceremonial and cultural activity. The tea culture started from...

Coming This Fall – Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan/Ingen in Global East Asia

In 1654 Zen Master Yinyuan traveled from China to Japan. Just seven years later he established the monastery Manpukuji and founded a new tradition called Ōbaku. In this talk, Jiang Wu tells the story of the tremendous obstacles faced by Yinyuan, drawing parallels...

The Huangbo/Ōbaku religious and cultural tradition, is important in both East Asian history and Chan/Zen Buddhist culture.

From the ninth century onward, eminent monks at Huangbo Temple in Fuqing 福清, Fujian Province, including Huangbo Xiyun (黃檗希運, ?-850, Ōbaku Kiun in Japanese), trained a generation of prominent Zen masters such as Linji Yixuan (臨濟義玄, ?-866; Rinzai Gigen in Japanese). A key development in the revival of Zen Buddhism in seventeenth-century China is the ascent of Zen Master Yinyuan Longqi onto the global stage as the most influential link between Chinese and Japanese Buddhist cultures during this era.

The direct transmission of Buddhist teachings from master to student is a defining characteristic of Zen Buddhist traditions including the Ōbaku school. Yinyuan received authentic dharma transmission from his Dharma Masters Miyun Yuanwu (密雲圓悟, 1566-1642; Mitsuun Engo in Japanese) and Feiyin Tongrong (費隠通容, 1593-1661, Hiin Tsūyō in Japanese). Master Yinyuan presided over Wanfusi 萬福寺 Temple in Fujian, China for sixteen years and transformed it into a major Dharma transmission monastery with an international reputation in East Asia.

In 1654, Yinyuan was invited to Japan and founded Manpukuji Temple in Uji, Kyoto, where he established the Ōbaku school in accordance with monastic rules popular in mainland China. Manpukuji remains the headquarters of the Ōbaku school to this day. The Ōbaku school is one of only three official Zen schools in Japan, in addition to the larger Sōtō and Rinzai schools. Although it was the last of the three Zen schools to develop, Ōbaku was greatly influential in Edo Japan (1616-1868) and continues to maintain a unique Buddhist culture rooted in late Ming Chinese Buddhist traditions.​

The direct transmission of Buddhist teachings from master to student is a defining characteristic of Zen Buddhist traditions including the Huangbo/Ōbaku school. Yinyuan received authentic dharma transmission from his Dharma Masters Miyun Yuanwu (密雲圓悟, 1566-1642; Mitsuun Engo in Japanese) and Feiyin Tongrong (費隠通容, 1593-1661, Hiin Tsūyō in Japanese). Master Yinyuan presided over Wanfusi 萬福寺 Temple in Fujian, China for sixteen years and transformed it into a major Dharma transmission monastery with an international reputation in East Asia.

In 1654, Yinyuan was invited to Japan and founded Manpukuji Temple in Uji, Kyoto, where he established the Ōbaku school in accordance with monastic rules popular in mainland China. Manpukuji remains the headquarters of the Ōbaku school to this day. The Ōbaku school is one of only three official Zen schools in Japan, in addition to the larger Sōtō and Rinzai schools. Although it was the last of the three Zen schools to develop, Ōbaku was greatly influential in Edo Japan (1616-1868) and continues to maintain a unique Buddhist culture rooted in late Ming Chinese Buddhist traditions.​

Portrait of Yinyuan Longqi 隱元隆琦 (Jp. Ingen Ryūki, 1592-1673)
Tradition of Kita Genki 喜多元規 (active c. 1663-1709)
Eulogy by Muan Xingtao 木菴性瑫 (Jp. Mokuan Shōtō, 1611-1684), 1676
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
119.4 x 57.8 cm; 193.7 x 71 cm (mounted)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase: Brooke Russell Astor Bequest, 2015, 2015.3

The early patriarchs of the Ōbaku school, including Yinyuan Longqi, Jifei Ruyi (即非如一 (1616-1671; Sokuhi Nyoitsu in Japanese), Mu’an Xingtao (木菴性瑫, 1611-1684; Mokuan Shōtō in Japanese), Gaoquan Xingdun (高泉性潡, 1633-1695; Kōsen Shōton in Japanese) and other immigrant monks such as Donggao Xinyue 東皋心越 (1639-1696, Tōkō Shin’etsu in Japanese) and Duli Xingyi 獨立性易 (1596–1672, Dokuryū Shōeki in Japanese), were all gifted artists. In particular, Zen Master Yinyuan became one of the most influential and active Zen masters of his time and he was greatly respected among Japan’s cultural, religious, and political elite.

In addition to his status as a religious leader, Yinyuan was also a renowned calligrapher and poet and his inner circle primarily consisted of monk-artists. Outstanding works of calligraphy and painting by the Ōbaku monk-artists contributed significantly to the positive reception and success of the Ōbaku school in Edo Japan. Many of the world’s top museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and The National Museum of Asian Art, have important works of calligraphy and painting by Ōbaku monk-artists in their collections. The online art exhibition organized by the Center for Buddhist Studies includes numerous works, with a special focus on portraiture and calligraphy, by prominent Ōbaku monks and other related artists.

The extraordinary cultural achievements of the Ōbaku school extend beyond the visual arts and include tea culture, the unique vegan cuisine and food culture known as fucha ryōri (普茶料理), music, literature and the Buddhist liturgical arts. Events and programs commemorating Yinyuan’s 350th death anniversary will explore both the life journey and achievements of this influential Zen master and the many cultural contributions of the Ōbaku school that he founded.

Portrait of Duli Xingyi 獨立性易 (Jp. Dokuryū Shōeki, 1596-1672)
Kita Genki 喜多元規 (active c. 1663-1709)
Self-eulogy dated 1671
Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
111.4 x 50.1 cm; 211.8 x 63.8 cm (mounted)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund, 1965.31

We hope to inspire engagement and understanding of the unique culture of the Ōbaku school through this timely presentation and associated programs.

The early patriarchs of the Ōbaku school, including Yinyuan Longqi, Jifei Ruyi (即非如一 (1616-1671; Sokuhi Nyoitsu in Japanese), Mu’an Xingtao (木菴性瑫, 1611-1684; Mokuan Shōtō in Japanese), Gaoquan Xingdun (高泉性潡, 1633-1695; Kōsen Shōton in Japanese) and other immigrant monks such as Donggao Xinyue 東皋心越 (1639-1696, Tōkō Shin’etsu in Japanese) and Duli Xingyi 獨立性易 (1596–1672, Dokuryū Shōeki in Japanese), were all gifted artists. In particular, Zen Master Yinyuan became one of the most influential and active Zen masters of his time and he was greatly respected among Japan’s cultural, religious, and political elite.

In addition to his status as a religious leader, Yinyuan was also a renowned calligrapher and poet and his inner circle primarily consisted of monk-artists. Outstanding works of calligraphy and painting by the Ōbaku monk-artists contributed significantly to the positive reception and success of the Ōbaku school in Edo Japan. Many of the world’s top museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Asian Art, have important works of calligraphy and painting by Ōbaku monk-artists in their collections. The online art exhibition organized by the Center for Buddhist Studies includes numerous works, with a special focus on portraiture and calligraphy, by prominent Ōbaku monks and other related artists.

The extraordinary cultural achievements of the Ōbaku school extend beyond the visual arts and include sencha (steeped tea) tea culture, the unique vegan cuisine and food culture known as Fucha Ryori (普茶料理), music, literature and the Buddhist liturgical arts. Events and programs commemorating Yinyuan’s 350th death anniversary will explore both the life journey and achievements of this influential Zen master and the many cultural contributions of the Ōbaku school that he founded.

We hope to inspire engagement and understanding of the unique culture of the Ōbaku school through this timely presentation and associated programs.

We hope to inspire engagement and understanding of the unique culture of the Ōbaku school through this timely presentation and associated programs.