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  • Guoying Stacy Zhang

The Revival of Meditation in China: A Seven-day Retreat at Yuquan Monastery

In China, the seven-day holiday following the National Day on 1 October is known as the Golden Week, because it is the longest national holiday aside from the Chinese New Year. This year, as many people took the opportunity to travel with their families or friends, more than 100 people from across China, including myself, chose instead to gather at Yuquan Monastery in Dangyang, Hubei Province, for a seven-day meditation retreat. Our group, aged between 16 and 60, included parents with children as well as couples.

Yuquan Monastery (玉泉寺), literally “Jade Spring Monastery,” was constructed in 528 during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty. Since then, the monastery has received continuous imperial patronage and produced more than 120 eminent monks, according to historical records. The most influential among them were Zhiyi (智顗, 538–97), founder of the Tiantai school, and Shenxiu (神秀, 606–706), founder of the Northern Chan school. For that reason, Yuquan Monastery is regarded as the ancestral temple of both the Tiantai and Northern Chan schools of Chinese Buddhism.

The iron pagoda of Yuquan Monastery, constructed in 1061.
Image courtesy of the author

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