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Lingyin Temple(灵隐寺,Temple of Soul's Retreat) is the oldest, the most famous and influential buddhist monastery in Southeastern China. Also named Yunlin Temple, Lingyin Temple is Chinese famous Buddhist monastery of Buddhism welcomed and believed by innumerous Buddhism believers. In their mind, Lingyin Temple is their shrine and the place to talk spiritually to Bodhisattva and Buddha. Lingyin Temple located at the northwest riverfront of the West Lake in Hangzhou, and generally, it is considered to be a part of the West Lake Scenic Area, which is the extremely famous and popular tourist attraction in China, even in the Far-East Area. Exactly, Lingyin Temple is situated in the Lingyin Mountain between Fei Lai Feng (飞来峰,Peak Flown From Afar) and Bei Gao Feng(北高峰,Peak of North Highness). Traditionally, Lingyin Temple as well as the area around Lingyin Temple are all the perfect tourist destinations for leisure, reading, study and self-meditation, thanks to its old and lofty trees, tranquil and deep mountains, ancient Buddhist temples as well as the varied clouds and mist. Lingyin Temple in China is considered to be one of the wealthiest monasteries, and the top one in Jiangnan region. Today’s Lingyin Temple serves as the place for tourism and pilgrims. Rarely known, Deng Xiaoping, the former great leader, together with many other leaders, also was the regular comer of Lingyin Temple
Another legendary story is also quite fascinating. Originally named Lingying Temple(灵鹰寺, Temple of Wizardly Eagle or Vulture Emple), Lingyin Temple initially was constructed in early period of Tang Dynasty(618-907). It was said approximately 1400 years ago, there was a Bijia Mountain(笔架山,Penholder Mountain) in front of today's Qinlingwan. The zone on the left side of Bijia Mountain was deemed as the Blessed Land of Sunrise and Phoenix. Primitively, this area was wild and full of bramble. Later, a monk with family named Wu lived in back mountain and fed on selling firewood and planting. One day, this monk collected firewood in Bijia Mountain and took off his garment due to the hot weather. He hung his garment onto a branch and went on his work. Unexpectedly, a wild goose flied down and took away his garment. It flied southwardly and stopped at the area where today's Lingyin Temple is located. The monk stared upward and ran after the wild goose toward south. He arrived at the place where his garment was and amazed at the surroundings and landform which looked like a huge eagle lying on the land. Monk Wu got inspired a lot and burnt incense to pray over here. Since then, he started the construction of temple, which was originally named Lingying Temple. From then on, Lingying Temple became more and more popular and the scale of the monastery building complex also has been formed basically. Down to the management period of Monk Bibo(碧钵和尚), there had been hundreds of monks living in temple; Besides, the temple had more than 200 mus of arable land, dozens of cattle, and scores of wells. The influence reached to five prefectures and eight counties. Up to the Zhengguan Period of Tang Dynasty, this was under the reign of Emperor Taizong. One Day, when Master Bibo was giving the lecture of Buddhist sutra to the monks, General Yuchi Gong(尉迟恭), who was the famous general of founding Tang Dynasty and was assigned to suppress the betrayers and robbers at the time, passed by Lingying Temple and was surprised at the towering architecture of the temple. He went into the temple to worship to the God for getting blessing from god to help him defeat the robbers and gangsters, and he promised that he would report the Emperor to give special appropriation funds for the temple reconstruction if he succeeded in suppression. In the end, General Yuchi Gong won in the battlefield and the special funds he applied for temple reconstruction were agreed and appropriated by authority. Mentionably, the Emperor Taizong, whose name was Li Shimin, specially changed the name of temple to be Lingyin Temple(灵隐寺), which since then was used up to today.
Reliably Speaking, Lingyin Temple was built in326 when Southern China was in the reign of East Jin Dynasty. Up to today, the history of Lingyin Temple has been more than 1600 years. Lingyin Temple becomes the earliest Buddhist Temple in Hangzhou. Its name origins have been mentioned above. During the reign of Wuyue Kingdom (907-978), when China was separately under the administration of five Dynasties and roughly ten kingdoms, the King Qian Chu(钱俶) was a worshipper of Buddhism. Lingyin Temple with his help developed quickly, which was mainly embodied in the extension of buildings---there were 9 towers, 18 pavilions, 72 halls and more than 3000 monks in Lingyin Temple.
However, during the scary period of Cultural Revolution, Lingyin Temple was luckily partially damaged by the infamous Red Guards thanks to the protection of former premier Zhou Enlai. In August, 1966, The Cultural Revolution widely spread all over China. The Red Guards rebelled against all, including diversity of so-called valueless and superstitious temples and monasteries. A large amount of Buddhist temples of Hangzhou was destroyed, and the monks and operators of temples were caught and persecuted. On August 26, 1966, a portion of the Red Guards of Hangzhou in the name of sweeping away the Four Olds(扫四旧, mainly eliminating old culture, old custom and traditional beliefs) targeted Lingyin Temple and threatened to dismantle the temple and destroy the Buddha statues and finally sweep away Lingyin Temple from the earth. Meanwhile, a part of young students and people publicly objected to their act. These students and people required to protect the national places of interest and ancient relics and protect the safety of Lingyin Temple. Both sides had the severe debating and conflicts. On that day, thousands of people constituted of workers, farmers and students automatically gathered at the front gate and the rear gate of Lingyin Temple to protect Lingyin Temple from The Red Guards’ destruction. At the time, the local governmental organs were defunctive and no one took charge of dealing with this incident. These protectors maintained by the end of August. What’s worse, the movement of sweeping away the four olds became more and more influential, and the leading group of The Cultural Revolution unfathomably declared that “Please revolutionary people decide whether to protect Lingyin Temple or not”. The situation became extremely urgent and the destiny of Lingyin Temple was in danger. Under such a vital circumstance, Premier Zhou Enlai got known this news and worried a lot about how to protect this holy place. Premier Zhou Enlai eventually made the only feasible measure----Closed down Lingyin Temple and sent the governmental paper. Lingyin Temple was protected successfully. Besides, Lingyin Temple was the only temple undestroyed during the Cultural Revolution. During this crisis, the monks of the temple also made the great efforts. These monks on the one hand publicized the announcement of the State Council, and on the other hand, bought a lot of portraits of Chairman Mao and pasted them on the Buddha Statues to prevent from the breach of the Red Guards.
Fei Lai Feng nearby Lingyin Temple is an important place of interest in Hangzhou and also the main scenic spot of Lingyin Scenic Area. As for its name origin, Indian Monk Hui Li said: This is the small peak of Indian Vulture Mountain and I do not know how it flies afar. Hence it is named formally the Peak Flown From Afar.
It was said that one day, Monk Ji Gong (济公, also called Dao Ji) of Lingyin Temple suddenly predicted there would be a peak flying from afar. At the time, the front of Lingyin Temple was a village. Monk Ji Gong was worried about the arrival of the unknown peak would cause casualty and he ran to the village to warn the villagers of what might happen and advised them to leave as quickly as possible. Ordinarily, in the eyes of villagers, Ji Gong acted like a mad monk and preferred to play tricks on them. They mistook Ji Gong’s advice as a trick again; hence nobody took it seriously, which made Monk Ji Gong worried. At this time, He rushed into a family where there was a wedding ceremony and took the bride rapidly out of the house. The villagers found the monk dared to get the bride away from the ceremony and hell-for-leather went after him. Suddenly the gale begun and the whole sky turned dark when they were chasing Ji Gong, and with a sound of Hong, a peak fell down to the front of Lingyin Temple. And the peak did not destroy the village at all. The villagers got aware that Monk Ji Gong saved them all. And this peak was Fei Lai Feng, the Peak Flown From Afar.
Cold Spring located outside of the Hall of the Heavenly Kings of Lingyin Temple. It is ranked the fourth among the famous springs of Hangzhou. Bai Juyi, a famous poet and official of Tang Dynasty and acted as the governor of Hangzhou for a certain time, had a close connection with Lingyin Temple and his famous prose Leng Quan Ting Ji(冷泉亭记, Prose of Cold Spring Pavilion), which makes Cold Spring and Lingyin Temple widely famous in Chinese Literature. Anciently, there was a tradition that each governor of Hangzhou would build up a pavilion to express his personality, and a lot of leaders built a lot of pavilions in Hangzhou such as Xubai Pavilion(虚白亭) by Xiang Li, Houxian Pavilion(候仙亭) by Han Gao, Guanfeng Pavilion(观风亭) by Pei Changdi and Jianshan Pavilion(见山亭) by Lu Yuanfu. And Lengquan Pavilion was built by Yuan Xie. Su Dongpo was said to drink and create poems in Lengquan Pavilion when he acted as governor of Hangzhou.
Buddhist sutras are complicated and all-inclusive. The Buddhist sutras as well as the related treatises are the main learning resources for monks and nuns as well as the male and female pilgrims, who altogether are called”四众弟子”, Four Kinds of Disciples. In 2003, Yunlin Sutra Library was established to serve a tranquility, harmony and spiritual habitat to those pilgrims living in earthly world