EXTRA: Dajian Temple, Shaoguan, Guangdong

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on July 14, 2014.)

These ancient trees are all that remain of the former Dajian Temple (大鉴寺) in Shaoguan, Guangdong,
(广东, 韶关市) where the Sixth Patriarch (六祖) of Chan (Zen = 禅) is said to have delivered the
Platform Sutra (坛经). Small halls in front seem to have been created from an apartment building.

July 22, 2012 - With this week's article, we return closer to home. I took the (then-new) fast train up to Shaoguan, where I began exploring sites from the life of Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chan.

Although he was appointed as Sixth Patriarch at Wuzu Temple in Hubei, most of Huineng's career was spent in Guangdong. He was born south of Zhaoqing; shaved his head in Guangzhou (at Guangxiao Temple, which we have already visited); spent most of his career in Shaoguan; and died back near his birthplace. Many of the next several articles will relate to his life and career.

After checking into a hotel near the old train station, I walked west into the heart of Shaoguan, where I searched out a temple I had been to only once before. Dajian ("Great Mirror") Temple is the alleged site of one of the most famous events in the history of Chinese Buddhism: The giving of a teaching that has been recorded as The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the only document originally written in Chinese that has been given status as a sutra, equal to the words of the Buddha himself. (The Sixth Patriarch is properly known in full as "Dajian Huineng.")

The temple was once a grand place. Today it is more humble, squeezed into mere alleyways, and most of it appears to be more of a glorified apartment building than a temple. (Frankly, I'm sure much of it is just a recreation.)

But there is a pair of old trees, indicating that something has been at that location for quite some time. They speak more of the temple's past than do any of the buildings.

Authentic or not, it was a good place to start on my journey in the footsteps of arguably China's most famous historic monk.

GPS Info:
  • 24.80012, 113.59896


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


More pictures can be found here.

These old trees are probably the only ancient sights at Dajian Temple.

Dajian looks more like an apartment building than an ancient temple.

The main hall is the only building that looks like a temple.

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