" Empty Cloud "
Chan Master Hsu (Xu) Yun was born on 26th April, 1840 at Chuanchowfu in Fukien province. His father was an official of the prefecture and his mother died immediately after giving birth to him. His uncle was childless and adopted him as his heir. When he was 11, his grandmother died and monks were invited to perform Buddhist rites. This was the first time he saw monks or sacred objects and it made him very happy. After this he read the sutras which deeply impressed him. When he was 14, his father discovered that he wanted to renounce the world and, in order to keep him, engaged a Taoist to teach him meditation. After practicing Taoism for three years, he decided that its teaching failed to reach the ultimate goal. One day he fled to Nanyo but was soon found and brought home. Sometime later his father sent for the two girls and celebrated Hsu Yun's marriage.
At 19, together with his cousin Fu Kuo, he fled to Kushan monastery at Fuchow where his head was shaved, and here he followed the Master Miao Lien and received full ordination. During these years in the grotto, he made very good progress and had most interesting experiences. He says in his autobiography: "I was able to make my heart content and became free to go anywhere I wanted. As there were mountains to stay on and herbs to eat, I started wandering from place to place."
At 31, he went to Wenchow where he met a monk who urged him to call on the old master Yung Ching who was well-versed in both teaching and Chan transmission. This master urged him to resume eating rice and to use the Koan "Who is dragging this corpse of mine?" and ordered him to study the Chan rules, the Lotus teaching and other important sutras. From 36 to 43 he went on a pilgrimage to P'u T'o island off Ningpo, which was the bodhimandala of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, thence to the monastery of King Asoka at Ningpo and to many other holy places where he called on well-known masters and made good progress in his Chan practice.