Xie Lingyun

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Xie Lingyun(385 - 433)

Xie Lingyun (SHEE-EH LIHNG-yewn) was born into one of the most powerful aristocratic families of the Six Dynasties, one that was at the center of cultural and literary movements. The Xie family moved from Henan to Zhejiang province. His great wealth gave him all the leisure he needed. His book collection made him one of the most learned poets of his time, and he was famous as a calligrapher and painter. He was an eccentric and had a special love for nature. Xie spent much time wandering around the country looking at celebrated landscapes.

His poems were a blending of sentiment, reason, and beauty of nature with Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucian philosophy. Xie edited the southern version of the Mahaparinirvana-sutra, wrote a “discussion of essentials,” and identified the combination of Nirvana and Samsara with the doctrine of Void. These were tasks well suited to a mind accustomed to the Daoist teachings of the Dao De Jing . . .

Xie was regarded as the first of the nature poets and the founder of the school of mountains and waters poetry (shanju fu). His editions and commentary on Buddhism popularized this religion with educated Chinese scholars. (Source Accessed Aug 20, 2020)

In the Jin Dynasty and the Song Dynasty, [the] Mahaparinirvana-sutra spread in the Central Plains [and] had two versions: the southern one and the northern one. The northern version was translated by Tan Mochen, while the southern one by Xie Lingyun, Hui Yan and Hui Guan. The two versions had many differences in their structure, content and style. According to many documents, Xie played a quite important role in the retranslation and the compilation of [the] Mahaparinirvana-sutra. He participated in and presided over it. In addition, he did a lot of pertinent research and annotating work. (Source Accessed Aug 20, 2020)

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