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楊岐方會 Yangqi Fanghui (992–1049)
(Rōmaji:) Yōgi Hōe

Yangqi Fanghui
by Andy Ferguson
In: Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings, Wisdom Publications, 2011, pp. 407-411.

YANGQI FANGHUI (992–1049) was a disciple of Shishuang Chuyuan. He is known as the founder of the Yangqi branch of the Linji school. All of the Linji Zen schools in the world today are spiritual descendants of this branch. Yangqi’s home was the city of Yichun in Yuanzhou (now in Jiangxi Province). As a child he was clever and well spoken. As a young man he is reported to have run afoul of authorities in his job as a tax administrator and was forced to flee into obscurity. He later became a monk at Jiufeng in Duanzhou (west of modern Guangzhou City). Traveling to the region of ancient Tanzhou, he studied under the eminent teacher Shishuang Chuyuan and became his Dharma heir. Later, he gained his mountain name while serving as abbot at the Putong Monastery at Mt. Yangqi. In the year 1046, Yangqi moved to Haihui Temple in Tanzhou.

Yangqi taught the principle that Zen is manifested in everyday events, and the great way of emancipation is to be sought in the common activities of people’s lives.

When Shishuang Chuyuan moved from Nanyuan to Mt. Dao Wu, and then to Shishuang, Yangqi followed him, performing administrative affairs in each place. Although Yangqi remained with Shishuang for a long time, he never attained enlightenment. Each time he would have an interview, Shishuang would say, “There are a lot of administrative affairs requiring attention. Go do them.”

On one occasion when Yangqi went to see Shishuang [for instruction on practice], Shishuang said, “Director! Someday your descendants will cover the earth. Why are you in a hurry?”

One day, Shishuang had just gone out when it suddenly began to rain. Yangqi spied his teacher walking on a small path, chased him down, and grabbed him, saying, “You’ve got to talk to me now, or else I’m going to hit you!”

Shishuang said, “Director! You already completely know how to take care of things, so that’s enough!”

Before Shishuang had finished speaking, Yangqi experienced great enlightenment. He then kneeled and bowed to Shishuang on the muddy path.

The Zeng Ding Fozu Dao Ying offers a different passage related to Yangqi’s spiritual maturity.
[The Tseng Ting Fo Tsu Tao Ying (Annotated Portraits of the Buddha Ancestors) was compiled and edited by Hsü Yun and reprinted by Hsin Wen Fêng, Taipei, 1975.]

Yangqi asked Shishuang, “How is it when the great dark bird cries ‘na! na!’ and flies down from the clouds into the chaotic mountain peaks?”

Shishuang said, “I walk in wild grasses. You rush into the village.”

Yangqi said, “When the senses have no room for even a needle, still there is another question.”

Shishuang then shouted.

Yangqi said, “Good shout.”

Shishuang shouted again.

Yangqi also shouted.

Shishuang then shouted twice.

Yangqi bowed.

Shishuang said, “This affair concerns one person taking up and carrying a lotus.”

Yangqi shook his sleeves and went out.


When Shishuang passed away, Yangqi left and went to live at Pingmai on Jiu Peak. Many monks and laypersons came to Jiu Peak to request that he assume the abbacy at Mt. Yangqi.

At that time, Marquis Qin didn’t know Yangqi.

He exclaimed in surprise, “Does Monastery Director Hui understand Zen?”

Upon accepting the invitation to teach, Yangqi met with the congregation to answer questions. At the end of the meeting he said, “Are there any more questions? If so, come forth with them. Today my life is in the hands of each and every one of you, and is dependent on your support. Why is this? An abbot’s authenticity is clearly judged by the congregation. It can’t be hidden away and obscured like a submerged water plant. It must be tested now before the congregation. Can anyone else come forward to test it? If not, then it is my own loss.”

When he finished speaking, Yangqi got down from the seat.

Just then Marquis Qin grabbed him and said, “I’m happy that today I’ve finally gotten a fellow practitioner.”

Yangqi said, “What do you mean by ‘fellow practitioner’?”

Marquis Qin said, “Yangqi guides the ox. Marquis Qin pushes it.”

Yangqi said, “At this moment, is Yangqi in the front, or is Jiufeng in the front?”

Marquis Qin was unable to answer.

Yangqi then pushed him away and said, “Before I thought we were fellow practitioners, but actually we’re not!”

Because of this incident, Yangqi’s reputation spread widely through the land.


Yangqi said, “Fog fills the sky and the wind blows wildly. The foliage and the trees, like a great lion’s roar, expound the Mahaprajnaparamita scripture. All of the buddhas of the three worlds turn the great wheel of Dharma under the heels of each of you! If you understand this, then your wisdom is not wasted. If you don’t understand, then don’t say that the terrain of Mt. Yangqi is dangerous, because in front of you there is still the highest mountain to climb!”


One day, three monks arrived at the monastery.

Yangqi said to them, “Three people traveling together must have one wisdom.”

Yangqi then picked up a cushion and said, “Practitioner, what do you call this?”

The monk said, “A cushion.”

Yangqi said, “Really?”

The monk said, “Yes.”

Yangqi then again asked, “What do you call it?”

The monk again said, “A cushion.”

Yangqi then looked to the left and right and said, “This practitioner possesses the eye.”

Yangqi then said to the second monk, “If you want to travel a thousand miles, you must start with the first step. What is the first phrase?”

The monk said, “Arriving here at the master’s place, how dare I extend my hand?”

Yangqi then used his hand to draw a circle in the air.

The monk said, “Complete.”

Yangqi then extended both of his hands.

When the monk started to speak, Yangqi said, “Complete.”

Yangqi then asked the third monk, “From where have you recently departed?”

The monk said, “From Nanyuan.”

Yangqi said, “Today, you monks have discovered Yangqi. Please sit and have some tea.”


Yangqi entered the hall and said, “The single word of Yangqi is complete and perfect everywhere. If you try to grasp it, it’s inconceivable.”


A monk asked, “In order to escape the vexations of the mind, one must see the ancient teaching. What is the ancient teaching?”

Yangqi said, “The clear moon of the universe. The clear wave of the blue ocean.”

The monk then asked, “If someone doesn’t yet understand this, how can he do so?”

Yangqi said, “Beneath the heels.”


Yangqi addressed the monks, saying, “There is no great meaning on Yangqi. What you sow you’ll reap! Old Shakyamuni was talking in a dream. Where will you find any trace of it now?”

Yangqi then struck the meditation platform and shouted, “Practice!”


Yangqi asked a monk who had just arrived, “The fog is thick and the road is obscured, so how did you get here?”

The monk said, “The sky does not have four walls.”

Yangqi said, “How many straw sandals did you wear out coming here?”

The monk shouted.

Yangqi said, “One shout. Two shouts. After that, then what?”

The monk said, “I meet you, Master, but you’re quite busy.”

Yangqi said, “I don’t have my staff. Sit and have some tea.”


When another monk arrived, Yangqi said to him, “The leaves fall and the clouds gather. Where did you come from today?”

The monk said, “From Kwan Yin.”

Yangqi asked, “How would you say one word from beneath Kwan Yin’s heels?”

The monk said, “I’ve just arrived to see you.”

Yangqi said, “What is it that you’ve seen?”

The monk didn’t answer.

Yangqi said to a second monk who had also come, “You! Can you say something for this practitioner?”

The second monk didn’t answer.

Yangqi said, “Here are a couple of dumb horses.”


Yangqi left thirteen Dharma heirs.



Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
In: Zen Essence: the science of freedom
Shambala, 1989, pp. 22-23.

Lost and Found

When body and mind are pure, all things are pure. When all
things are pure, body and mind are pure.

"The coin lost in the river is to be retrieved from the river."


Still Worldly

When you detach from the whole universe, everywhere is dark.

When you let go of the absolute, the rain is seasonal and the breeze is
moderate. Even so, there is still worldliness there.


The Ancient Teaching

Someone asked Yangqi, "As it is said, 'If you want to escape
from clamor in the mind, you should read the ancient teaching.' What
is the ancient teaching?"

Yangqi replied, "The moon is bright in space, the waves are calm
on the ocean."

The inquirer asked, "How does one read it?"

Yangqi said, "Watch your step."


The Supreme Vehicle of Zen

I am asked to expound the supreme vehicle of Zen, but if it is
the supreme vehicle, even the sages stand aside, buddhas and Zen
masters disappear.

Why? Because you are all the same as the buddhas of old.

But can you really believe and trust this?

If you really can, let us all disband and go our separate ways.

If you don't leave, I'll go on fooling you.


Mind and Phenomena

Mind is the faculty, phenomena are the data: both are like
scratches in a mirror.

When there are no scratches or dust, the clarity of the mirror

When mind and phenomena are both forgotten, then your nature
is real.


Silent Zen

Someone asked Yangqi, "When the founder of Zen came from
India to China, he sat facing a wall for nine years-- what does this

Yangqi said, "As an Indian, he couldn't speak Chinese.