No. 102: Yunmen Temple, Shaoguan, Guangdong

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on July 21, 2014.)

This statue commemorates Master Xuyun (虚云大师) at Yunmen Temple
(云门寺) in Shaoguan, Guangdong (广东, 韶关市).
It is one of the many temples he rebuilt in the 20th century.

July 23, 2012 - The morning after my arrival in Shaoguan and my short walk to Dajian Temple, I woke up early and caught a highway bus from Shaoguan's West Bus Station out to Ruyuan, an "Autonomous County" occupied by the Yao minority. From there it was a fairly short local bus ride to Yunmen ("Cloud Gate") Temple, formerly one of the most important seats of Chan (Zen) in China.

After the death of the great Chan Master Huineng (whom we will see again and again in the next weeks) in the Tang Dynasty, Chan began splitting into various sects until, in the Song, it was composed of five "houses." One of these is the Yunmen School, named for this temple and Master Yunmen Wenyan, who had lived there. This school was later absorbed into the Linji which, with the Caodong, are the only survivors of the "Five House" system.

After its heyday, the temple went through the usual cycle of ruin and rebuilding. It was notably rebuilt in the 1940s by the great modern Master Xuyun, and again after the Cultural Revolution.

Today, it's booming. There is a massive new gateway, and a pagoda which had not yet been opened on my visit in 2012. But climbing the slope to the original compound, I saw monks and laymen working together, winnowing rice they had harvested from the nearby fields. The old Chan tradition of "Don't Work, Don't Eat" is still alive.

Yunmen Mountain, which rises behind the temple, is festooned with flowers, butterflies, stupas, and a memorial hall to Master Xuyun, as well as a large stupa with some of his remains.

A trip to Ruyuan makes a pleasant side trip from more-urbanized Shaoguan.

GPS Info:
  • 24.80464, 113.31281


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


More pictures can be found here.

The massive new entry gate at Yunmen Temple

Ponds lie in front of Yunmen's main compound.

Stupa and hall dedicated to Master Xuyun

A new pagoda rises on the mountain near Yunmen.

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