Daoxin, whose surname was Si-ma, was born in Yongning County, Qizhou. He began studying Buddhism at the young age of seven and although his teacher was a man of impure moral conduct, Daoxin maintained the Buddhist morality by himself without his teacher’s knowledge for five or six years. For ten years he studied with Zhikai at Great Woods Temple on Mount Lu. In 607 Daoxin received ordination as a monk. All three times the emperor sent emissaries to Daoxin, he refused the invitation each time. The third time the emperor instructed his emissaries to either bring back Daoxin or cut off his head. When the emissary relayed this information to Daoxin, Daoxin exposed and stretched out his neck to allow the emissary easy access to chop off his head. The envoy was so shocked he reported this event to the emperor, who in turn reciprocated and honored Daoxin as an exemplary Buddhist monk.
Dayi Daoxin was a Mahayana Buddhist monk. When it came to the mummification process, these “types” of monks would usually leave instructions to be followed after their deaths, consisting of burying them siting in the “lotus posture”, put into a vessel surrounded by bricks with drying agents (such as coal, wood, paper, or lime), only to be exhumed later, usually after a period of three years. Their preserved bodies would then be decorated with gold and paint, a common method in China. In other cases, the bodies would be covered with clay or salt.
He learned under Sengcan for nine years, until Sengcan went to Mount Lo-fu. For ten years he studied with Zhikai in the Great Forest monastery on Hermitage Mountain (Lushan) in northern Jiangxi. This monastery was a famous center of learning for the Tiantai School, and for the study of the Prajna Paramita scriptures, both of which likely influenced Daoxin’s practice and teaching.
The teachings of Daoxin (and his successor, Hongren) are known as the East Mountain Teachings, a precursor to the flowering of Chan on a national scale some seventy-five years later at the beginning of the eighth century. It is clear, however, that Daoxin taught meditation. The Zen scholar Seizan Yanagida stated that the expression “samadhi of one practice” was the heart of Daoxin’s practice. The Five Gates of Daoxin quotes him as saying “Buddha is the mind. Outside of the mind there is no Buddha.”
“Dayi Daoxin.” Buddha World RSS, 2017, www.tamqui.com/buddhaworld/Dayi_Daoxin Renko. “Dayi Daoxin - The Fourth Zen Patriarch.” The Zen Universe, 3 Dec. 2016, thezenuniverse.org/dayi-daoxin-fourth-zen-patriarch/. Ferguson, Andy (2000) Zen’s Chinese heritage: the masters and their teachings, ISBN 0-86171-163-7