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  • Guoying Stacy Zhang

Lingyan Monastery: The Development of an Ancient Monastery in Contemporary China

Lingyan Monastery (靈巖寺) is situated in the Changqing District of Jinan City, in China’s Shandong Province, northwest of Mount Tai. Founded in the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420) by Senglang (僧朗), it was one of the four most-renowned monasteries in China, alongside Guoqing Monastery (國清寺) in Zhejiang, Qixia Monastery (棲霞寺) in Nanjing, and Yuquan Monastery (玉泉寺) in Hubei.

The name Lingyan means “divine rocks,” which comes from a legend in which Senglang was teaching the Dharma to an audience of thousands of people, and even the mountain’s rocks responded by nodding. At its height, Lingyan monastery boasted more than 50 halls accommodating over 500 sangha members, and even until 1749, under the Qianlong reign, it comprised 36 halls. Throughout its history, many eminent monks have been associated with Lingyan Monastery, including Xuanzang (玄奘, 602–64), who translated sutras there, and Zibo Zhenke (紫柏真可, 1543–1603), who once served as abbot.

Lingyan Monastery; the Pratyeka Pagoda was completed in 1057.
Image courtesy of Lingyan Monastery

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