Ghatikara A potter in the time of Buddha Kassapa. He was an Anagami and the chief supporter of Buddha Kassanad
Vimalakirti Householder protagonist of Vimalakirti sutra, his house expanded to fit all who came to hear the dharma.
Mahanaman: [Makanan, Manan].
One of the five monks who practiced with the Buddha after he left the palace. Elder brother of Aniruddha, a grandson of King Simhahanu. Later, he returned to be a lay practitioner and lived as King of Kapilavastu while the Buddha was alive.
King Mahanama Lay disciple of the Buddha.
Kallika and Pasenadi
Mallika was a gardener ’s daughter. When she was sixteen years old she offered food to a passing monk who, though she did not know it, was the Buddha. She was filled with joy, and her radiance attracted the attention of Pasenadi, King of Kosala, who made her his queen. Subsequently she visited the Buddha a number of times, received his teaching, and became a lay follower. She convinced her husband to also become a follower of the Buddha. The Anguttara Nikaya contains Buddha’s responses to questions brought to him by Mallika and Praenajit.
Shrimala was Queen of Kosala, daughter of King Pasenadi and Queen Mallika. She was hero of the sutra, The Lion's Roar of Queen Shrimala, named after her, one of the earliest Yogacara sutras. Therein, in response to Shakyamuni Buddha, Queen Shrimala proclaims ten vows and expounds the teaching of Buddha nature and the Dharmakaya.
Arapussa and Bhallika
These two merchants were the first two people Shakyamuni Buddha encountered after his enlightenment, when he was on this way to see the the five companions with whom he
had practiced austerities. Perceiving his qualities, they made a food offering to him, thus becoming his very first disciples.
Son of a pious Buddhist family in Rajagaha, he initially disdained the sangha but,following his father ’s deathbed wishes, daily worshipped the four quarters. This provide the opportunity for the Buddha to preach to him the Layperson’s Vinaya (the Sigalovada Sutta, #31 in the Pali Nigha Nikaya). At the end of the discourse, Sigala becomes a lay follower and pledges to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
Described in Pali Canon as "the householder Sudatta, the foremost lay devotee in generosity. ” A wealthy banker, he bought the Jeta grove and established the monastery there where Buddha spent most of the rainy season retreats. He appears often in the Pali sutras as both pious and a keen debater, and is portrayed as entering Tusita heaven when he died.
In the well-known story of the mustard seed, Kisagotami’s grief at the death of her only child was so great people thought she’d lost her mind. Buddha promised to bring her child back to life if she could find a mustard seed from a family where no one had died; when she could not, she realized the truth of impermanence. On hearing Buddha preach she entered the first stage of Arhatship.
Described in Pali Canon as "the [foremost] householder for explaining the Teaching. One of two male lay disciples identified for emulation by the Buddha
Nakulapita and Nakulamata ~500 BCE, India
Husband and wife, they were known for being foremost in faithfulness: loyal to not just the Buddha, but to each other through many lifetimes. He is described in Pali Canon as the householder who was "the best confidant; ” she is describes as foremost "for undivided pleasantness. ”
Hatthaka of Alavi
Described in Pali Canon as the householder who was foremost in gathering a following using the four sympathies.
Bimbisara ~500 BCE, India
King of Magadha, a contemporary and patron of the Buddha. He gave the Buddha a monastery in Rajagrha.
Khema ~500 BCE, India
Khema was a beautiful consort of King Bimbisāra, who awakened to the totality of the Buddha’s teaching after hearing it only once, as a lay woman. Later became a nun.
Visakha ~500 BCE, India
Described as the foremost female lay disciple of the Buddha in the Pali canon. When only seven years old she welcomed the Buddha, heard him preach and became a disciple. When she reached maturity she was married to a wealthy Jain but kept following the Buddha, eventually converting her father-in-law and all her household to Buddhism. She built a monastery for the sangha and became kind of matriarch to them . Known for being kind, patient, and wise, Buddha sometimes gave her authority to settle dispute that arose amongst the nuns. The Buddha often delivered discourses to her that appear in the Pali canon. She lived to 120.
Punnika ~500 BCE, India
Punnika was born a slave in the Indian city of Savatthi; she worked as a water-carrier and when she heard the Buddha preach her nondiscriminating mind was awakened. This enabled her, even though she was a slave, to preach the Dharma to a Brahman while still a slave. Later she became a nun.
Sumana ~500 BCE, India
Sumana was the sister of King Prasenajit (Pasenadi) in Kosala. She converted to Buddhism the first time she heard the Buddha lecture. She wanted to go study with the Buddha but instead fulfilled her duty to care for her elderly grandmother. She visited the Buddha and found peace, then returned to the kingdom to help her brother and was known as one of the greatest of laywomen followers.
Khujjutara ~500 BCE, India
A slave woman in the palace of Queen Samavati of Kosambi (see below). She was able to hear and memorize the Buddha’s teachings and taught them to Samavati and her ladies- in-waiting
Samavati ~500 BCE, India
Samavati was a wife of King Udena and a lay follower of the Buddha, instructed by her serving-woman Khujjutara.
Velukandakiya ~500 BCE, India
Velukandakiya is considered one of the two standard-bearer lay female disciples of the Buddha, the other being Khujjuttara. She is praised by Buddha in Samyutta Nikaya “Only daughter”
Prasannasila ~500 BCE, India
She had been a nun, but because of the restrictions on women felt she could serve Buddhism better by returning to live as a householder:
Ashoka (304-232 BCE)
Ashoka was an Indian emperor of the Maurya dynasty. After conquering Kalinga he was moved by the destruction and the bodies of the dead and felt great remorse. He converted to Buddhism and promoted it and expanded it throughout his empire.
Emperor Wu of Liang (464-549)
The “straight man” in a famous encounter with Bodhidharma, it’s said he received the Buddhist precepts during his reign, earning him the nickname “The Bodhisattva Emperor.”
Fu Dashi (Fu Ta-shih, Fu Daishi), 497-569. Fu Dashi was a very popular lay practitioner who lived around the time of Bodhidharma. First a fisherman, then a farmer, he cultivated his fields while engaging in continuous meditation. During famines he sold everything he had and used it to help others. He is said to have created rotating sutra shelves so images of him are often found near Chinese sutra libraries. He appears in Blue Cliff Records 67. Some lines from one of his poems: “Every night, go to sleep together with Buddha./Each morning, arise together with Buddha /Moving or still, actions mirror each other …If you wish to know where this Buddha is / Just say the word, and there the Buddha is, /in the sound of your own voice. ” Another famous line: “With empty hands I hold a hoe …a man walks over a bridge - the bridge flows, the water does not. ”
(RR) Source: White Wind Zen Community; T. Kirchner, Entangling Vines, biographical notes
Shotoku (Japan, 572-622) Also known as Umayado, Kamitsumiya
He became crown prince and regent of Japan in 593. He promoted Buddhism in Japan, which previously had only been Shinto. He became semi-legendary in Japan; later, Saicho (founder of Tendai) Shinran (founder of Jodo Shinshu) claimed visions and inspiration they attributed to Shotoku.
Queen Sondok (Korea, 610-647)
Sondok is known as the “Princess of the Moon and Stars,” revered by both the Korean shamanic and Buddhist traditions. During her reign (634-647) she sent scholars and monks to study in China and built Buddhist temples in Korea.
Chen (Chinese, Tang dynasty, 618-906)
A laywoman from En Province who realized enlightenment with Master Jing of Changlao. Some lines of her verse: “Everyone has the spirit of the knife and the axe. /How can they see the mountain flowers reflected in the water
- glorious, red?”
Li Tongxuan (635-730) China
A lay scholar who was an important figure in the development and popularization of Huayan thought, following the Avatasamka Sutra; he stressed the importance of meditation and the ultimate unity of delusion and enlightenment. His writings became a major influence on later East Asian Buddhist thought.
Hsüan-tsung (685-762, China).
He abolished Wu-tsung’s ban on the Buddha Dharma. Dogen cites him as an example of ceaseless practice: “from the time of his ascending to the throne and throughout his reign, Hsüan-tsung was fond of doing seated meditation. …. he did his utmost to pursue the Way with unswerving determination. “
Huineng (Daikan Eno) (China, 638-713)
Sixth patriarch of Chan Buddhism. According the the Platform Sutra, he was selling firewood in the market one day and became enlightened when he heard someone recite the Diamond Sutra. He worked pounding rice for the monks under Fifth Ancestor Daman Hongren (Daiman Konin) and became his dharma heir after submitting the verse “no bodhi tree, no mirror mind.” He then worked fifteen years for a group of hunters, sometimes offering sermons; when he decided to leave this secluded area to teach more publicly he was ordained by Yin Tsung.
Wang Wei (China, c. 699-761).
Wang Wei was an important contributor to the literary flowering of the T’ang dynasty. He had a distinguished civil service career but is remembered mostly for the 400 poems he left. His wife died when he was 31; he remained celibate thereafter but, though he had some yearning for a life of monkish seclusion, he felt obligated to fulfill his family and government obligations. He adopted the name Wei-mo-chieh, a Chineser transliteration of Vimalakirti.
Han-shan (China; dates unknown, early 7th to early 10th century)
Born into a prosperous family but failed to qualify to enter the elite ranks of scholars, he married, became a farmer, but withdrew to spend the rest of his life on Cold Mountain. Zen “adopted” him as the emblematic untutored mountain sage, and he appears in the Transmission of the Lamp. He remained a layman, though there are (probably mythical) descriptions of him having encounters with Kuei-shan and Chao-chou. Some three hundred poems are ascribed to him, and he appears in Blue Cliff Records and Records of Serenity.
Pangyun, Layman: 740–808, China.
Also known as Layman Pang. A lay student of Mazu Daoyi, Nanyue Line, who also studied with Shitou. Lived in Xiang Region (Hubei) and made his living by making baskets and having his daughter Lingzhao sell them in town. His teachings are found in Recorded Sayings of Layman Pang. “ The marvelous spiritual ability manifests its enlightened functioning in our carrying water and our hauling firewood.”
Laywoman Pang (Chinese,d. 808)
Wife of Layman Pang, mother of Ling Zhao, and an adept in her own right. Once, making a a food offering, the temple priest asked on whose behalf she made the offering. She took her comb, stuck it in the back of her hair, said “Dedication of merit is complete,” and walked out.
Ling Zhao 762-808, China
Ling Zhao was the daughter of Layman Her debates with her father, which she usually won, are included in the collection of Pang’s sayings and poetry. [She is the model for Fishbasket Guanyin (one of the 33 forms of the Bodhisattva of compassion) and much admired for the simplicity and confidence of her practice.]
Pei Xiu (P’ei Hsiu, Hi Kyu, Pei Xuigong Hai Kokyu) 797-870, China
One of the most famous of Buddhist lay practitioners, he served as prime minister and governor of several provinces. He studied Zen with many masters, including Guishan, Pai-chang (J. Hyakuj ō ) and Huangbo, eventually becoming Huangbo ’s successor. Pei Xiugong compiled Huangbo's Transmission of Heart/Mind,, arranged the building of Huangbo's temple, and helped his Buddhist friends during the persecution in 845 under Emperor Wuzong. He appears in Case 32 of Kattoshu, Sanbyakusoku and in Eihei Koroku
Chen Cao (Ch’en Ts’ao; Chin So), 9th century, China
A government official and Dharma heir of Muzhou Daozong (aka Daoming). He was one of the great lay Zen practitioners of the Tang dynasty. He appears in Blue Cliff Record Case 33. Yunmen Wenyan convalesced at Chen’s residence after his leg was broken in his encounter with Daozong.
Sima Chengzheng (Ssu-ma Ch'eng-cheng, Shiba Shotei), c. 750, China
A lay student of Mazu Daoyi. See Dogen's Chiji Shingi.
Luxuan (Lu Gen, Lu-hsuan, Jap. Riku Ko, Rikko), 764-834.
A lay student of Nanquan Puyuan and eventually his Dharma successor as well as a high government official, governor of several provinces and head of the Bureau of Censors. He appears in Blue Cliff Records 12 and 40; in #40 he quotes Master Chao: “Heaven, earth, and I have the same root” and Nan Ch’uan points to a flower and replies “people these days see this flower as a dream.”
Bai Zhuyi : [aka Po Chü-i, Haku Kyoi, Bai Juyi, Letian, Bai Luoten, Haku Rakuten. ]. 772-846, China.
One of the most reknowned poets of the T’ang Dynasty as well as governor of Hangzhou. He called himself Layman Xiangshan.. He lived in the suburb of the capital city Luoyang (Henan) accompanied by poetry, wine, and lute. He was a Lay disciple of Niaoke Daolin of the Niutou School ( Zen Master Fokuang Ruman (Bukko Nyoman). He also visited with Guizhong Zhichang and Daolin. In Dogen's Shoaku Makusa Bai asks Daolin “what is the essential meaning of buddha dharma?” anda Daolin replies, “Refrain from unwholesome action.”
Mu-chou Daoming (J. Bokushu Domyo), China, ca. 780-877
He had been ordained and, along with Linji, was a Dharma-heir to Huang-po. However, he quit the monkhood as well as the monastery and lived as a layman when Yunmen went to study with him. Legend has it Mu-chou slammed the door on Yun-men, simultaneously crushing his leg and opening his mind. He appears in Blue Cliff Records, Records of Serenity and in the Linji yu-lu (Rinzai roku). See Dogen's Eihei Gen zenji goroku Gyoji, and Muchu Setsumu.
Xuanzong (Hsuan-tsung, Senso, Dazhong), 810-860, China.
Tang emperor reigned from 847-860. During a period of hiding from his nephew Emperor Wu Zong, Xuan studied with Xiangyan, Yanguan and Huangbo. See Dogen's Gyoji. After Wuzong died, Xuanzong ascended to the throne and ended the persecution of Buddhism.
Yu Di (Yu ti, U teki), d. 818, China
A governor of several provinces, he launched a persecution of Buddhism but was converted by Ziyu Daotong who confronted him in a Dharma dialog ( “The land of the Raksasas is not far ….Yu Di! Don ’t seek anywhere else ”). He became one of the Four Worthies - Chinese government officials who were accomplished Zen practitioners (the other three being Pei Xiu, Yang Danian, and Li Xunxu). He became a good friend of Layman Pang Yun, and appears in cases 39 and 86 of the Kattoshu.
Wang Changshi (Wang Jingchu), 9th century, China.
A government official in the mid-Tang dynasty, he studied under Muzhou Daoming and experienced enlightenment. Later he studied under, and eventually became the Dharma heir, of Guishan Lingyou. He appears in Case 221 of the Kattoshu, “the pillar tires.” (RR) Source: T. Kirchner, Entangling Vines, biographical notes
Chiku c. 900
Lay student of Chosa Keishin. Cited in Shobogenzo as a high government official, he asked: “When a live earthworm is cut in two, both parts continue to move. I wonder, in which part does the Buddha Nature reside? ”
Ganji 9th cent China
A workman like Layman Pang, he and his whole family were considered Zen adepts. He did the practices of Samantabadra, awakening when pricked by a needle by Yantou.
Zhang Zhuo: [Cho Setsu, Chang Cho]. ninth century, China.
Scholar, a layman of the Five Dynasties and early Song period. He studied under Deyin Guanxiu, had realization after exchanging a few words with Shishuang Qingzhu, and became Shishuang’s Dharma heir. He appears in Case 196 of the Kattoshu collection of koans. His poem, “Nirvana and birth-and-death are both flowers in the sky.” is cited by Dogen in “Flowers in the Sky”.
Li Zunxu, Layman Li, c. 1029. Compiled Tiansheng Extensive Record of the Lamp: [Tensho Kotoroku].
Su T-ung-po [Dongpo, So Toba]. 1037–1101, China.
Initiatory name: Zidan [Shisen]. Renowned poet of Sung Dynasty, also a high government offical. Lay student of Zhaojiao Changzong. Later studied with Foyin Liaoyuan. Cited by Dogen in Shobogenzo: “One night when Dongpo visited Mount Lu, he was enlightened upon hearing the sound of the valley stream. He composed the famous verse (quoted by Dogen in Valley Sounds, Mountain Colors): “Valley sounds are the long, broad tongue; Mountain colors are no other than the unconditioned body.”
Wang Sui 10th-11th century, China
A prime minister and lay disciple of Shoushan Shengnian. He helped compile the Chuandeng guying ji, “Precious flowers of the lamp transmission. ”
Yang Danian (Yang Ta-nien, Yo Dainen, aka Yang Yi, Yo Oki) 10th-11th century, China A government official and serious Zen practitioner who became a Dharma heir of Guanghui Yuanlian; he was one of the compilers of the Jingde-Era Record of the Transmission of the Lamp and the author of the preface.
Shanku Huang (Shan-k'u Huang, Sankoku O), 1045-1105.
A noted poet and government official who was a lay disciple of Huitang Zuxin.
Layman Qingyi (Fan Yanzhi, Han Enshi). 11th century, China.
A reclusive successor of Huanglong Huinan. He appears in Kattoshu, Case 10
Zhang Wujin (Chang Wu-chin, Cho Mujin; also known as Chang Shang-ying, Cho Shoei), 1043-1121, China
Passing the civil service exam at age 19, he was appointed a magistrate after pacifying disturbances in Sichuan. After rising to prime minister he was demoted to governor for a time for policy failures, but was later reinstated as prime minister. He practiced Zen under Doushuai Congyue and succeeded to his Dharma; he also had a close relationship with Yuanwu Keqin. He appears in case 140 of the Kattoshu collection of koans in a dialog about Doushua’s final word.
Zhidong (Chih-t ’ung, later called Weiju, “Washing Away Ignorance,” also called Gongshi Daoren (c.1050-1124)
She was well-married but left her husband, asking her parents to allow her to be ordained; but they refused. Thereafter she practiced as a layperson, studying with Linji master Sixin Wuxin. She was awakened after reading the Huayan Patriarch Dushun's "Contemplation of the Dharmadhatu." After her parents' death, she ran a bathhouse and wrote Dharma poetry on the walls to engage her customers:[ “Nothing exists, so what are you bathing?” ]She became a nun in old age [at the time of her brother ’s death]. She wrote the "Record on Clarifying the Mind," which circulated throughout China.
Minister Feng: [Hyo Shoko]. d. 1153, China.
A lay student of Fuyan Qingyuan, Linji School. Governor of Qiong Region (Sichuan). Yu Daopo (12th cent.)
She was the only Dharma heir of Langye Yongji and remained a laywoman. She was awakened upon hearing Linji's teaching of the "true man of no rank." She was sought out by many monks for dialogue and teaching, but she referred to every monk as her “son."
Miaodao (12th-13th cent.)
She had many recorded sermons, and was a Dharma heir of Dahui [Zonggao; she was the first student to awaken using his new koan method]. She lived as a laywoman in a monastery. Her awakening in 1134 had a great impact on Dahui's teaching.
Zhao, Superintendent thirteenth century, China.
Government officer, grandson of Emperor Ning of the Song Dynasty. A lay student of Tiantong Rujing.
Yo Koshu thirteenth century, Japan.
An early lay student of Dogen’s. Resided in Kyushu Island. Dogen wrote Genjo Koan for him. Further biography unknown.
Layman Sakingo, (13th century Japan)
Also known as Zen Practitioner Kakunen, found land suitable for Dogen’s monastery and housed Dogen during his last days; Dogen passed away in his house
Keizan Jokin (1264-1325, Japan)
Dharma ancestor fourth in the line of Soto succession from Dogen, he was a strong supporter of lay practice. At his monastery of Yoko-ji he encouraged area residents to participate in the monastery’s activities; he administered the precepts and gave Buddhist names to lay people, creating an early form of lay ordination.
Shozen (early 14th cent.)
She was a disciple of Keizan and Sonin's mother, but remained a householder with considerable money and power. She donated land to the temple. Keizan said the sangha would honor her forever in an annual ceremony.
En’i (14th cent.)
She donated a large amount of land to Eikoji for Keizan's building plan. He ordered that ceremonies be done in her honor forever.
Yoshihime (14th cent., Japan)
Yoshihime was the daughter of a general and became famous for her “warrior zen” when barred from entering Engakuji for a lecture.
Ikkyu (1394-1481, Japan)
A controversial Zen teacher who lived sometimes as a monk, sometimes as a layperson or wandering vagabond, he was renowned for his haiku , his shakuhachi playing, and his celebration of sexuality. He was an important influence on the Fuke sect of Rinzai Zen.
Queen Munjeong (1501-1565), Korea
During the late 1400s and early 1500s Buddhism was suppressed in Korea by the neo- Confucian government. Buddhist monks were treated poorly and not allowed to enter the capital city. After Queen Munjeong became regent for her son in 1544 she reversed this policy and made strong efforts to revive and strengthen Buddhism. She ordered the rebuilding of Bogeunsa Temple, which became a center for training in the Seon meditation tradition.
Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672, Japan)
Ishikawa fought as a samurai but was forced to become a monk after he performed a heroic charge that was against orders. He studied Zen at Myoshin-ji but after a few years left; he worked as a tutor for the next 12 years to support his aged mother. At age 58 he retired to a his villa of Shisendo on the outskirts of Kyoto. He spent the remainder of his life there writing poetry, doing calligraphy, and caring for his home and garden. During his life he became famous for his poem, but since he wrote in Chinese these are not well- known today. An example: “What is there that’s not a children's pastime? / Confucius, Lao-tzu - a handful of sand.”
Tachibana no Someko (1660-1705, Japan)
Tachibana no Someko was a concubine of a Japanese feudal war lord. A depression that set in after several of her children died young was lifted through koan study with Master Ungan of Ryukoji, with whom she experienced a verified awakening. She received a kesa as a layperson. She wrote a book [Wastepaper Record] about her awakening experiences
Basho (1644-1694, Japan)
Great haikai poet of the Edo period. Studied Zen with Rinzai master Butchō. His poetry was heavily influenced by Zen. He was never ordained but wore black robes like a monk, and said he was “neither priest nor layman, bird nor rat but something in between.”
Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768)
One of the great masters of Rinzai Zen and koan practice, Hakuin was a firm believer in bringing the wisdom of Zen to all people. He encouraged laypeople to meditate, and wrote a well-known letter to a governor urging him to practice in the midst of affairs. Thanks to his upbringing as a commoner and his many travels around the country, he was able to relate to the rural population, and served as a sort of spiritual father to the people in the areas surrounding his monastery of Shoin-ji. Much of his writing was in the vernacular, and in popular forms of poetry that commoners would read.
Satsu (18th century)
Satsu was a brilliant and iconoclastic disciple of Hakuin from age 16-23, and then his Dharma heir as a lay person. She continually engaged him in Dharma combat. She remained a laywoman; Hakuin eventually told her to get married and have children to bring Zen into practice of everyday life, which she did.
Isso Kurihara c. 1700, Japan.
Student of Hakuin; married to Ohashi.
Ohashi c. 1700
She became a prostitute as a teenager in order to support her family after her father lost his work. Despairing this fate, she was advised by Hakuin "to consider who does this work;" Hakuin certified her awakening. She continued to practice while working as a prostitute and after marrying Isso. She later became a nun with her husband's approval.
Asan (Japanese, seventeenth-eighteenth centuries)
A laywoman from the town of Shinano, student of the Soto master Tetsumon. When she met with Hakuin she said, “better than the sound of one hand, let’s clap both hands and do some real business! ”
Bibashi Butsu Daiosho
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Taiso Eka Daiosho
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