Tung-Shan (Tozan)
China (806 - 869) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Poems by Tung-Shan (Tozan)
Books - Links

Tung-Shan Liang-Chieh (or Dong Shan, known in Japanese as Tozan) was the founder of the Tsao-tung Chan lineage, later brought to Japan by Dogen as Soto Zen.

Tung-Shan entered monastic life at a young age. The story is told that he was reciting the Heart Sutra one day and came to the statement: "There is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind." Feeling around his face, the precocious boy said to his teacher, "I have eyes and ears. How can the sutra say they do not exist?" His teacher, immediately recognizing the depth of the boy's enquiry, suggested that he seek out a Chan master to study with.

Tung-Shan took this advice and, at the age of twenty-one, was formally ordained in the Chan tradition. He journeyed from monastery to monastery, studying with many greatly revered teachers.

Tung-Shan eventually established his own monastery which soon drew a large number of students. The monastery later relocated, settling on Mount Tung (Tung-shan), which gave the celebrated teacher his name.

Tung-shan developed a transmission method that was neither overly ritualized with chanting and meditation, nor excessively intellectual -- the two extremes he saw most often in his travels. Instead, his method was often to answer questions in oblique and unexpected ways that kept listeners attentive and uncertain, in order to help them cultivate honest and direct spiritual awareness.

It is said that when he was preparing to die, Tung-Shan gathered his students together and announced his impending death. His students protested in their grief. To point out the foolishness of their reaction, Tung-Shan ordered that a final meal be prepared to honor Ignorance. The students, ignoring the jibe, took a week to prepare the meal. When it was finally served, Tung-Shan tasted the meal, then took a final ceremonial bath, and died.

Tung-Shan's masterpiece of composition was his Verses on the Five Ranks, which has inspired many commentaries throughout the centuries.

Poems by Tung-Shan (Tozan)

Recommended Books: Tung-Shan (Tozan)

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan and Hekiganroku The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

Related Links

Tung Shan: H.H. Patriarch Dong Shan Liang Chieh

An online biography of Tung Shan.

Theosophy Library Online - Tung-Shan

A good biography on Tung-Shan.

Song of Precious Mirror Samadhi

Several comparison translations of Tung-Shan's poetry.

The Five Ranks

The poem Song of Precious Mirror Samadhi and an exploration of the five ranks of enlightenment, with explanations.

Yun's Talk: Only Partial Agreement

A story of enlightenment associated with Tung-Shan.
Tung-Shan (Tozan)