EXTRA: Guo'en Temple, Xinxing (Zhaoqing), Guangdong

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on September 1, 2014.)

The purported tomb (墓) of the parents of the Sixth Patriarch (六祖) of Chan (Zen = 禅)
stands at Guo'en Temple (国恩寺), Xincheng, Zhaoqing, Guangdong (广东, 肇庆市, 新兴).

July 29, 2012 - The morning after visiting Qingyun Temple to Zhaoqing's north, I took a highway bus south to Xinxing. Because I couldn't find the local bus down to Guo'en Temple, I ended up being gouged by a taxi driver. (But I found the return bus!)

But it was worth it. Again, though it not on my list of 142 Key Temples, this site was of great personal significance to me.

For over 15 years I have studied the Platform Sutra, the masterpiece of Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chan (Zen). Guo'en Temple was built by the Master next to the village where he was born; it is also where he passed away (though he spent most of his life teaching at Nanhua Temple near Shaoguan).

The great empress and contemporaneous Buddhist patroness Wu Zetian gave the temple its name, meaning "Gratitude of the Nation," to sum up China's feelings toward Huineng for the work he had accomplished.

Today the visitor can walk to the nearby village of Huineng's birth, renamed appropriately "Sixth Patriarch Village" (Liuzu Cun). There is a small temple there to commemorate his life. In Guo'en itself is the grave of his parents, and a litchi tree said to have been planted by Huineng.

One newer feature of the temple is a pagoda built in 1990, though a much older foundation was found nearby in 2006 when new drainage was being dug. Another new pagoda was being built near the road, and there are numerous halls and pavilions.

About four kilometers south of the temple (but alas, beyond my reach on that trip) is the "Pit of the Hidden Buddha" (Zang Fo Keng) where Huineng's body was prepared for mummification. I owe the area another visit just to see that!

GPS Info (click the link to view the map):


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


More pictures can be found here (Guo'en) and here (village).

The tomb of Sixth Patriarch Huineng's parents at Guo'en Temple

A litchi tree said to have been planted by Huineng

This new pagoda stands near the site of a much older one.

An unusual pagoda was being built near the road.

A modest temple in the village where Huineng was born, near Guo'en Temple

One of two small halls at the birthplace (六祖村) of the Sixth Patriarch (六祖) of Chan (Zen = 禅)

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