Yingci 應慈

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Yīngcí 應慈 (1873-1965)
  • Lay surname 姓: Yú 余
  • Name 名: Fēng 鋒
  • Style names 號: Zhènqīng 振卿, and later, the "Old Man Holding Flowers" 拈花老人
  • Courtesy name 字: Yīngcí 應慈
  • Dharma name 法名: Xiǎnqīn 顯親
  • Also respectfully referred to as Master of Huáyán 華嚴座主
  • Born 2/5 Tóngzhì 同治 12 (1873) at the Yúfù Salt Works 餘復鹽行 in Ānfēng Township 安豐, Dōngtái County 東臺縣, Jiāngsū 江蘇
  • Died August 31, 1965, at the Yìnyuè Chán Hall 印月禪堂, at Cíyún Temple 慈雲寺, Shànghǎi 上海
Notable Associates:
  • Article editor: Erik Hammerstrom

Yīngcí 應慈 (1873-1965) was a Chán Master and seminary organizer of the Republican period. He was a close associate of Yuèxiá 月霞 in the 1910s. He lectured widely on Huáyán thought from the 1930s to the 1950s, and led several ordinations in the 1950s.



Yīngcí was born to a family that originally hailed from Ānhuī 安徽, but had moved to Jiāngsū 江蘇 and become wealthy in the salt industry several generations before his birth. Yīngcí began studying under his father's tutelage at a young age, and received his Xiùcái 秀才 degree at age 15 suì. His father died the following year.

In 1898, Yīngcí decided to ordain and traveled to Pǔtuóshān 普陀山, where, at Fǎyǔ Temple 法雨寺, he met and was tonsured by Chán Master Míngxìng 明性. He followed Míngxìng to Nánjīng, and studied Chán and various Mahāyāna texts with him until 1900, when he went to Tiāntóng Temple 天童寺 in Níngbō 寧波. There, Yīngcí received full ordination under Jìchán 寄禪. Following his ordination Yīngcí studied Chán for several years under Dàdìng 大定 at Jīnshān's 金山 Jiāngtián Temple 江天寺, and under Yuèlǎng 月朗 at Gāomǐn Temple 高旻寺 in Yánghzōu 揚州.

In 1903, Yīngcí began studying under Chán Master Yěkāi 冶開 at Tiānníng Temple 天寧寺 in Chángzhōu 常州. That year he received from Yěkāi license to teach (rènkě 認可), and three years later, on the first day of the eighth lunar month of Guāngxù 光緒 32 (1906), he received dharma transmission from Yěkāi and was made abbot of the temple. Four monks received dharma transmission from Yěkāi that day, the other three were Míngjìng 明鏡, Yuèxiá 月霞, and Wéikuān 惟寬. They each became 42nd-generation dharma holders in the Línjì 臨濟 lineage. Neither Yīngcí nor Yuèxiá wished to stay and become abbot, and Yīngcí soon followed Yuèxiá (who was 17 years his senior) as the latter embarked on a sūtra lecture tour.

Over the following years, Yīngcí continued to accompany Yuèxiá. In 1909, Yuèxiá accepted the invitation of Zhāng Tàiyán 章太炎 to come to Tokyo to lecture. Yuèxiá's lectures on the Laṅkāvatāra 楞伽 and Vimalakīrti Sūtras 維摩經 and the Sūtra of Perfect Enlightenment 圓覺經 were attended by many notable Chinese, and he influenced many of them to take an interest in Buddhism. Yīngcí and Yuèxiá stayed in Japan for eight months. When they returned in 1910, Yuèxiá was recommended by Yáng Wénhuì 楊文會 to serve as president of the nascent Jiāngsū Sangha Education Association 江蘇僧教育會, and run the Jiāngsū Sangha Normal Study Hall 江蘇僧師範學堂. Yīngcí also taught at the Study Hall during that period. In 1911, they accepted an invitation to lecture at Bǎotōng Temple 寶通寺 in Húběi 湖北, and Dìxián 諦閑 took charge of the School.

With the outbreak of the revolution, Yuèxiá and Yīngcí went to Shànghǎi where they began living at Hardoon Gardens with the support of the Gardens' owner, Liza Roos 羅迦陵. In 1912, she helped them set up Huáyán University 華嚴大學 there. The school moved to Hǎicháo Temple 海潮寺 in Hángzhōu 杭州 in 1916, or thereabouts.[1]

In 1917, Yuèxiá followed Yěkāi's orders and became abbot of Xīngfú Temple 興福寺 on Yú shān 虞山 in Chángshú 常熟, but he became ill and traveled to Yùquán Temple 玉泉寺, Hángzhōu, where he died. After Yuèxiá's death, Yīngcí returned to Xīngfú Temple where, acting on one of Yuèxiá's last requests, transmitted the dharma to Chísōng 持松 and started the Dharmadhatu Seminary 法界學院 in 1919. He spent much of the next few years at Xīngfú Temple.

From 1922 to 1924, Yīngcí went into seclusion (bìguān 閉關) at Pútí Temple 菩提寺 in Hángzhōu. When he came out, he accepted the invitation of Jìngbō 靜波 to come to Qīngliáng Temple 清涼寺 in Chángzhōu 常州 to establish the Qīngliáng Seminary 清涼學院. The first class at the Qīngliáng Seminary graduated in 1927 and a new class of 20 students started in August of 1928. Due to disagreements between him and Jìngbō, in 1929 Yīngcí was forced to relocate to nearby Yǒngqìng Temple 永慶寺, where the second class graduated in February, 1931. This was the end of the school.

From 1934 to 1937, Yīngcí traveled widely, giving lectures in Chángzhōu, Níngbō, Shànghǎi, Sūzhōu, Mt. Wǔtái 五台山, and Wúxí 無錫. He spent much of the war giving lectures in Shànghǎi, focusing on Huáyán 華嚴 thought.

Yīngcí presided over ordinations in 1951 and 1958.

In 1953, Yīngcí was elected an officer in the nascent Chinese Buddhist Association 中國佛教協會. He was elected vice president in 1962, but retired soon after due to poor health. He died on August 31, 1965, at the Yìnyuè Chán Hall 印月禪堂 (which he had helped establish), at Cíyún Temple 慈雲寺.

Important Works

Notable Students


  1. Yú says this was because Liza Roos had started practicing some "outer path" 外道 and was forcing the monks to all come and pay homage to her and receive her blessing. Yú, 1.146c.


  • Shì Dōngchū 釋東初. Zhōngguó Fójiào jìndài shǐ 中國佛教近代史 (A History of Early Contemporary Chinese Buddhism), in Dōngchū lǎorén quánjí 東初老人全集 (Complete Collection of Old Man Dongchu), vols. 1-2. Taipei: Dongchu, 1974 Pp. 2.765-768.
  • Yú Língbō 于凌波, ed. Xiàndài Fójiào rénwù cídiǎn 現代佛教人物辭典 (A Dictionary of Modern Buddhist Persons), 2 vols. Taipei: Foguang, 2004. Pp. 2.1656b-1659c.
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