Zhaozhou Bailin Temple
Bailin Temple, located at the southeast corner of Zhaoxian county, Hebei province, was first built in the time of East Han Dynasty (approximately the 3rd century A.D.) and has a history of more than 1700 years today. In the early days of its history, it had been widely known as the Ancient Guan Yin Temple until Song Dynasty when it was renamed as Yong An Monastery. In Yuan Dynasty, the name of 芒鈧揃ailin Temple芒鈧?(the Temple of Cypress Woods) first came into being in an imperial letter to the monastery, as there were lots of cypress trees growing vigorously in the courtyard of the temple at that time.
From the limited epigraphs remained today, we know that Bailin Temple had always been an important Buddhist center throughout the whole ancient history. A stone stele of Jin Dynasty recorded an activity in which over 3000 lay followers donated to build a great Buddha statue in the Temple. In the early years of Yuan Dynasty, three emperors had ever signed decrees to local regimes, ordering them to exempt taxes from the Temple so as to preserve this Buddhist Holy Land. The great Stupa of Master Zhaozhou, which is now still towering in the temple, was first built in Yuan Dynasty, with the approval and support from Emperor Wenzong. In Ming and Qing Dynasty, the government agency for administrating religious affaires in Zhaozhou Prefecture was set up in Bailin Temple and sometimes the Abbot of the Temple also acted as the director of the agency.
From time to time, Bailin Temple had trained generations of numerous eminent Zen masters. Although many centuries have passed, some of the great masters like Master Zhaozhou, Guiyun, Yuexi and Luyun of various times are still well known by modern practitioners. Among them, Master Zhaozhou was one of the greatest Zen masters in the history of Chinese Buddhism, whose teachings have benefited numerous followers of both ancient and modern times, from both the inland and the aboard.