Zhìyuán 976-1022

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View of West Lake from Gushan on an overcast afternoon.

"Zhiyuan, native of Hangzhou, was born in 976 and became an apprentice monk at the age of seven when he 'left home' (a Buddhist term meaning to leave the secular life and enter the order of monks and nuns) at the Longxingsi in that city. In his youth he made notable progress in his study and applications of the teachings of the Tiantai School of Chinese Buddhism. Later he was the abbot of the Manao Monastery on Gushan Island in West Lake, just outside the city. There, he and the cultivated hermit Lin Pu became friends and probably exchanged poems, though none of the latter's poems to Zhiyuan remain today."

Quoted from Paul Hansen's introduction on page 77 of 'The Clouds Should Know Me By Now', edited by Red Pine and Mike O'Connor.

An interesting tale about this hermit monk: In 1019, when the new prefect, Wang Qinruo, arrived at his post in Hangzhou, many monks were excitedly preparing to go greet him, but were stopped in their tracks when Zhiyuan admonished them, "Toppling mountains, sakasama valleys, running off to red dust! Slow down! Sit and compose yourselves!" (Shamelessly altered notes of Paul Hansen!)

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