Whoever witnessed this?
Relying on the heartlessness of my sword
I went and cut off all my black hair.
Whatever the style, a surface appearance is essentially just that -
the outside of something.
Whatever the determination, a plan to perform any Dharma method is
essentially just that - an interior scheme.
Only the person who gets rid of within and without
Escapes from birth and death and ascends to eternity
(Venerable Master Hsu Yun)
'Empty Cloud: Autobiography of the Chinese Zen Master, Hsu Yun'
By Hsu Yun (Author), Xu Yun (Author), Richard Hunn (Editor), Charles Luk (Translator)
Master Xu Yun (Empty Cloud) lived into his 120th year. He was born in 1840 and passed away in 1956. He was a master of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism (known as 'Zen' in Japan), and inherited all five major schools of that tradition. XuYun lived to see the last five imperial reigns of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the formation of the Republican Era and the eventual victory of the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949. Despite tremendous difficulties in his life, he never stopped teaching the Buddha-Dharma and actively participated in the requisition of building materials, labour and finance to build or re-build important Buddhist temples, monasteries and other holy sites. He is well known for his travels, leaving China on foot and visiting Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Burma and even Tibet. Even when residing in China, Xu Yun would move about, visiting holy places and if he could, help maintain them for the use as Buddhist learning centres. Occasionally, he would agree to become abbot for a time.
As he became well known for his strong practice and pure attitude, people started comparing him to the Ming Dynasty Ch'an master Han Shan (1546-1623), referring to him as 'Han Shan Come Again'. This may not be that surprising, as both masters shared the ordination name of 'De-Qing'. Charles Luk is well known for his 'Ch'an and Zen Teaching' series, which reproduced master Xu Yun's Dharma Discourses. This biography of Empty Cloud is an English rendering of the Chinese text known as 'Xu-yun He-shang Nian-pu', translated by Xu Yun's lay-student Charles Luk (1898-1978), also known by his Buddhist name of 'Upasaka Lu Kuan Yu'. Limited editions were available in 1974 and 1980, but it was always Luk's intention to improve upon his original translation. He discussed this venture with his English Ch'an student, Richard Hunn (1946-2006), also known as 'Upasaka Wen Shu', in 1975. Unfortunately, Luk passed away soon after. This Element Edition is the result of this discussion. Richard Hunn, in his capacity as 'editor', revised the text, corrected any errors, added relevant and important details and provided an indepth glossary. As several passages were either re-written or added, parts of this edition may be thought of as a new translation.
Master Xu Yun requested that Charles Luk translate key Buddhist texts into English, so that western Buddhists might benefit from their wisdom. Luk, who also trained in Daoism and Tibetan Buddhism taught Richard Hunn, and passed the Ch'an Dharma to the West. This lineage continues today. Xu Yun advocated that all that was needed was true and correct knowledge of the 'Way', this book definitely fulfills this requirement. Richard Hunn states in his Introduction:
'It is salutary to note in this respect that no lesser person than the late C.G. Jung (1875-1961), was reading Xu-yun's Dharma-discourse while on his death-bed.'
It is this author's sincere hope that re-prints of Xu Yun's autobiography will soon be issued, so as to make the Ch'an teaching of this extraordinary man more readily available to the general public.