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Master Tan Xu (1875-1963)
This is an English translation of the Chinese language encyclopaedia entry entitled ‘Tan Xu Dharma Master’ (倓虚法师 – Tan Xi Fa Shi). Master Tan Xu was an outstanding Buddhist master of the Tian Tai School of Chinese Buddhism. Like master Xu Yun, Tan Xu dedicated his life to the establishment of new temples and to the rebuilding of the old, even setting-up a Buddhist College. His academic work is well known and very popular, and through his efforts Ch’an Buddhism has benefitted greatly. Charles Luk (1898-1978) wrote extensively about the principles of Tian Tai Buddhism in his ‘The Secrets of Chinese Meditation’, explaining how this school has sought to create an integrative approach to all of the Buddha’s vast teachings. Like Ch’an, the Tian Tai teaches that phenomena, although appearing real, is in fact ‘empty’ of any permanent nature. Once the ‘void’ is realised, it must be‘integrated’ with phenomena so that the mind can be truly all-embracing.
Dharma master Tan Xu (倓虚法师– Tan Xu Fa Shi) held the Dharma-name of ‘Long Xian’ (隆衔).
His lay surname was ‘Wang’ (王), and his first names were ‘Fu Ting’ (福庭). He is considered an eminent modern master of the Tian Tai (天台) School of Buddhism, and is very famous in China. He did not become a monk until he was middle-aged, when he was ordained and trained under master Xi Dian (谛闲). During his life he made outstanding contributions to Buddhism, setting-up educational programs and organising the repairing and building of temples. In 1925, the venerable old master Xi Dian passed on the Tian Tai lineage to master Tan Xu. This made master Tan Xu the 44th generation lineage-inheritor of the Tian Tai method. He travelled to Japan to attend the ‘East Asian Buddhist Association’ (东亚佛教联合会 –Dong Ya Fo Jiao Lian He Hui), where he represented the Chinese Buddhist community. He established the Surangama Temple (楞严寺 – Leng Yan Si) of Yingkou, the Ji Le Temple (极乐寺 – Ji Le Si) of Ha’erbin and the Bo Re Temple (般若寺– Bo Re Si) of Changchun. He revived the Bo Re Temple (般若寺 – Bo Re Si) and the Yong An Temple (永安寺 – Yong An Si) of Shenyang. The Da Bei Temple (大悲院 – Da Bei Yuan) of Tianjin, and the Da Xing Shan Temple (大兴善寺 - Da Xing Shan Si) of Xian, etc. In Beijing he revived the Mi Le Temple (弥勒院 – Mi Le Yuan) established a College for Buddhist Studies, and was the abbot of the ancient Fa Yuan Temple. He wrote a number of important works such as ‘Yin Yang Excellent Principle Theory’ (阴阳妙常说 – Yin Yang Miao Chang Shuo), ‘Discussion on the Diamond Sutra’ (金刚经讲义– Jin Gang Jing Jiang Yi), ‘Discussion on the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra’ (般若波罗密多心经讲义 – Bo Re Luo Mi Duo Xin Jing Jiang Yi), and ‘Discussion on Establishing Correct Conviction in the Mahayana’ (大乘起信论讲义 – Da Cheng Qi Xin Lun Jiang Yi), etc, and has published 24 other similar books. He possessed a profound understanding of Buddhism and his merit was outstanding. Master Tan Xu is recognised as a representative of the ‘Zhan Shan Study School’ (湛山学派 – Zhan Shan Xue Pai).
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2013.