A Compendium of the Five Lamps


Wu deng hui yuan (A compendium of the five lamps) was compiled by Chan Buddhist master Puji. Puji (1179‒1253), style name Dachuan, was a native of Fenghua, Siming (in present-day Zhejiang). His family name was Zhang. At the age of 19, he became a monk and entered the Xianglin Monastery. He went to Chicheng to study the Buddhist Tiantai theory of nature inclusion. Later he devoted himself to Chan Buddhism. He became friendly with monk Zheweng Ruyan (1151‒1225) and followed him to live in the Tiantong Mountains. Later the court invited him to stay at Baoguo Temple on Daci Mountain. He moved to the Jingciguangxiao Temple in Lin’an and later became the abbot of Jingde Lingyin Temple, where he spent two years in compiling Wu deng hui yuan, in 20 juan. He died in the first year (1253) of the Baoyou era. In addition to this work, he is associated with another entitled Dachuan Puji chan shi yu lu (Sayings of Chan Master Dachuan Puji). After the publication of Chuan deng lu (Records of the transmission of the lamp) during the Jingde era (1004‒7), numerous additional works followed, representing various schools and divisions, which the scholars found too complicated and cumbersome.  Wu deng hui yuan combined material taken from five works: Jingde chuan deng lu (Records of the lamp of the Jingde era) compiled by Daoyuan, Tiansheng guang deng lu (Expanded records of the lamp of the Tiansheng era) compiled by Li Zunxu, Jianzhong Jingguo xu deng lu (Supplementary records of the lamp of the Jianzhong Jingguo era) compiled by Master Weibai, Zong men lian deng hui yao (Collection of essential material from the successive records of the lamp of Chan Buddhism), and Jiatai pu deng lu (Universal lamp records of the Jiatai era). Thus it is called a compendium. This work provides a succinct and clear history of Chan Buddhism, its origin, and development. For Chan Buddhists, passing on their beliefs to people is like providing a lamp in the dark, hence the title conveys the idea of transmitting the lamp. After its publication, with the exception of Jingde chuan deng lu, the other four works became less used. The preface and juan 1 of the work are presented here.

Last updated: November 9, 2017