A lush lychee tree was planted by Liuzu Huineng 1300 years ago! 142
The Sixth Patriarch of Zen, known as the Three Great Sages of the East along with Confucius and Laozi, was the most famous Zen master in the history of Chinese Buddhism, a native of Xinzhou (present-day Xinxing County, Guangdong) in the southern part of the Tang Dynasty. In his hometown of Xinxing County, Yunfu City, there are still many relics of the Sixth Patriarch, but most of them have been rebuilt by later generations.
Xinxing Guoyen Temple was built in the first year of Emperor Hongdao's reign in the Tang Dynasty (683 AD). It is one of the three ancestral temples of the Sixth Patriarch, along with Guangzhou Guangxiao Temple, where the Sixth Patriarch Huineng was ordained, and Nanhua Temple in Caoxi, Qujiang, where he spent his entire life promoting his teachings.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, Guoyen Temple was regarded as the 'first sacred place in Lingnan' and the 'birthplace of Chinese Zen culture', with a large number of monks, pilgrims and scholars coming to the temple.
The six main attractions of Guoyen Temple are the Retribution Pagoda, the plaque of the Imperial Decree of Guoyen Temple, the graves of the Sixth Patriarch's parents, the thousand-year-old lychee tree planted by the Sixth Patriarch, the Buddhist relics and the Zhuo Xixi Spring.
In October 2019, it was included in the list of the eighth batch of national key cultural relics protection units.
"There is no tree for the Bodhi, nor is the mirror a platform. It was this verse that led to Hui Neng being granted the mantle as the heir to the teachings of the Fifth Patriarch Hong Ren and is also one of the most famous verses in Chinese Buddhist history.
The "First Place" pagoda, "Only when you progress does you realise that the mountain is the first, and when you enter the temple do you realise that the place is unrivalled", as the saying goes, "A mountain is not high, but a fairy is famous".
This unassuming temple in the Lingnan style is over 1300 years old, but has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.
The temple was built in the first year of Emperor Gaozong's Hongdao in the Tang Dynasty (683 AD), and was given the name Guoyen Temple by Wu Zetian's edict in the second year of Emperor Zhongzong's Shen Long (706 AD), with a plaque inscribed in her hand.
The temple was one of the most famous temples in Guangdong.
The Sixth Patriarch's hometown is in the village of Xia Lu, a kilometre away from the temple, where the ancient tomb of his parents still exists.
"The Vajra Sutra ends with the phrase "All living things are like dreams and bubbles. Like dew and like lightning, one should observe it as it is." This means that Buddhists should hold the view that all things and phenomena are illusory and impermanent in their birth and death.
The original pagoda was built in 712 AD, but unfortunately, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times since then, and the current pagoda was built in 1990.
A thousand-year-old lychee tree is the only relic associated with the Sixth Patriarch in the temple today. "Eat 300 lychees a day, and you will never tire of being a Lingnan native", and there are three lychees planted by the Sixth Patriarch in his hometown, including this tree.
This tree was planted by the Sixth Patriarch himself when he led his disciples back to his home. Although it has seen its share of ups and downs and was even burnt by fire during the Cultural Revolution, it still thrives today, standing tall and flourishing, with a height of 18.5 metres and a circumference of 3.72 metres at breast height, and is one of the top ten oldest trees in Guangdong.
The lychee tree was planted by one of the three great sages of the East, the sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism, over 1300 years ago. Every year during the 'Buddha Lychee Festival', Guon Temple is not only open for free, but every visitor to the temple has the opportunity to receive a 'Buddha Lychee' handed out by Guon Temple, but in 2013, the 1300th anniversary of the death of the Sixth Patriarch, this lychee tree is miraculously flowerless and fruitless. In 2013, the tree was miraculously flowerless and fruitless, paying tribute to the Sixth Patriarch in a silent manner.
Inside the Sixth Patriarch's Hall is a golden robed statue of Hui Neng, the same shape as the statues of the Sixth Patriarch at Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan and Six Banyan Temple in Guangzhou, made by his disciple statue-maker Fang Fan, so the form is as realistic as a bodhisattva in the flesh.
The golden robed seated statue of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng Bodhisattva, the thousand-year-old incorporeal body of the Sixth Patriarch at Nanhua Temple, Shaoguan.
The Daxiongbao Hall at Guoyen Temple is dedicated to the Twenty Luohan, why not the Eighteen Luohan, of course, there is a story? After the death of the Sixth Patriarch in 713, the disciples, led by Shenhui and Fahai, set fire to the Hall of Records at night when the Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Treasure Sutra was about to be recorded. "When the flames were about to reach the sutra, Shenhui entered the fire to protect it, and Fahai and his disciples then extinguished the fire. The scriptures were saved by Shenhui with his body and Fahai was also burnt. In memory of Shenhui and Fahai, there are twenty Luohan in Guonan Temple.
On 28 December 2006, relics and precious artefacts were found at the site of the underground palace of the Guoyen Temple, including a gilt-rimmed copper round box from the Sui and Tang dynasties, a gilt-bronze water jar, a gilt-bronze coffin and a crystal ball.
As the saying goes, "A mountain is not as high as an immortal, and water is not as deep as a dragon". The Guoyen Temple is not a magnificent temple, but the light of the Sixth Patriarch makes it one of the most famous temples in Guangdong Province to this day.