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Xueting Fuyu

Shaolin Abbott Xueting Fuyu

Fuyu (1203-1275; Traditional Chinese Kan-chih Calendar 3899 to 3900 - 3971 to 3972), also named Xueting (Chin.: Xuětíng Fúyù 雪庭福裕), was a renowned Ch’an master of the Caodong Sect during the early years of the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty (1206-1368; Traditional Chinese Kan-chih Calendar 3902 to 3903 – 4064 to 4065). The Caodong Sect was one of the five schools of Ch’an (Chinese Zen) that developed after the end of Bodhidharma’s lineage. Fuyu was the first abbot of the new lineage of monks and nuns that emerged at the Shaolin Temple.

Fuyu was born in Wenshui County, Hebei Province. His original surname was Zhang. Fuyu began schooling at nine. He soon displayed a great intellect and was called “Saint Child” by his peers. At 21, he took the Dharma name Fuyu and began studying Buddhism in Yanjing (modern Beijing) under the Caodong monk Wansong Xingxiu (Chin.: Wànsōng Xíngxiù 万松行秀). The Caodong sect was named after Cáoxī (曹溪), the "mountain-name" of Huineng, the Sixth Ancestor of Ch’an and the last master of Bodhidharma’s lineage. The Caodong Sect stressed sitting meditation and “silent illumination” techniques. Fuyu studied under Wansong for ten years, attaining distinction as a great Buddhist scholar. He eventually succeeded Wansong as the head of Caodong Sect.

In 1245 (Traditional Chinese Kan-chih Calendar 3941 to 3942), Fuyu was appointed by the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan (Chin.: Yuán shìzǔ Hūbìliè 元世祖忽必烈) as the abbot of Shaolin Temple before the former took the throne. In 1248 (Traditional Chinese Kan-chih Calendar 3944 to 3945), he was summoned to the court palace by Emperor Xianzong (Chin.: Xiànzōng 憲宗), the grandson of Kublai Khan, and was appointed the head of Buddhism throughout China.

Fuyu became abbot of the Shaolin Temple during a war-torn period in China’s history. He sought to create one Shaolin martial arts style. For this purpose, he held symposia three times, each lasting three years, during which he invited prominent martial arts masters in all of China to come to the Shaolin Temple and share their techniques and knowledge. The Shaolin monks and nuns recorded the accumulated techniques and martial forms in a library maintained at the temple. The attending martial artists returned to their homes, bringing back Shaolin techniques with them.

As a result of Fuyu’s symposia, numerous martial arts styles in Asia today trace their beginnings to the Shaolin Temple, which is why it is sometimes mistakenly considered “the birthplace of martial arts.” The unified system that emerged is called Songshan Shaolin (Chin.: Sōngshān Shàolín 嵩山少林) and it has influenced the development of today’s martial arts in China, Korea, and Japan.  The Michigan Shaolin Wugong Temple offers instruction on the practical techniques of the Shaolin monks and nuns in its martial arts classes.

 

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