EXTRA: Youmin Temple, Nanchang, Jiangxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on October 27, 2014.)

Courtyard (院) at Youmin Temple (佑民寺) in Nanchang, Jiangxi
(江西, 南昌市), the final home of Mazu Daoyi (马祖道一)

August 9, 2012 - No temples from my list were located in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province; but it was a good staging point for trips to two more remote temples: Zhenru, which I visited the next day, and Jingju, where I went the day after. Besides, there was a temple of historical significance located there.

To be honest, Youmin ("Blessing the People") Temple isn't much to look at today. Destroyed in the 1960s, its reconstruction was completed in 1995.

It is quite small, but it's in a fine location: just east of the beautiful Nanhu Lake, and north of Bayi Park, which celebrates the August 1, 1927, Nanchang Uprising and the founding of the People's Liberation Army.

But the main reason I wanted to visit was because of an illustrious former resident. Although the temple is said to have been built in 503, it wasn't until the eighth century that it became home to Mazu Daoyi, perhaps the second-greatest Chan (Zen) Master after Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch.

(Huineng taught Mazu's teacher, so Mazu was a second generation "descendent" of Huineng. Three generations later, Mazu's student Linji founded what is today one of the two surviving main lineages of Chan.)

Mazu is the very model of the "Crazy Zen-Man." Have you ever heard of the custom of whacking sleepy meditators with a stick? It started with Mazu. Suddenly shouting at a student to startle him into enlightenment? That was his, too. Nonsense answers to serious questions? Silent gestures? Grabbing a student's nose and giving it a twist? All trademarked Mazu.

Nothing remains of Mazu's life at Youmin, but it was a moving experience to visit what had been his final teaching seat.

GPS Info:
  • 28.68224, 115.89689


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

A new hall at tiny, reconstructed, but historic Youmin Temple

A courtyard at the temple

A new Buddha statue at Youmin

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