A few years ago, our friend and longtime Zen student Bill Krumbein set out on a research adventure. He compiled a list of Pacific Zen Institute ancestors.  Did all of these Zen masters and teachers really exist? We can be fairly certain that they did not. When there was a historical gap in the lineage, names were filled in posthumously to create an unbroken line. Moreover, some of these people never actually existed. Some ancestral names represent creatively cobbled-together characters, compilations of various historical teachers who were active at a certain moment in time.

Regardless of these gaps and creations, we do know that we exist inside an ancient, vibrant practice container that owes its existence to many, many teachers in the past. As Hakuin says in his Praise Song for Meditation, “Coming and going we are in the right place.” We are gathered with all our ancestors, in every moment.

Please note: Bill took special care to research and include women ancestors. Women’s names, below, are in bold type – as a way of particularly honoring those many women whose names and teachings have not been remembered or recorded.


Relatives and Welcome Guests

Part 1: PZI Ancestors

1. Buddha Shakyamuni
Followed by 26 male ancestors in India, as well as countless named and unnamed female ancestors.

27. Prajnatara
Various historians now believe that the 27th Indian Ancestor was a woman. A student of Punyamitra (who was the Buddha’s 26th ancestor), she was considered the leader of the Sarvastivadin sect of Buddhism. To escape the war and chaos of the Hun invasion in northern India, Prajnatara moved south to the city of Kanchipuram. It was there where Bodhidharma became her student. She allegedly directed  him to travel to China following her death, to spread the dharma.

28. Bodhidharma
ca. 470-5 – d.532?
A life layered in legend, with material evidence lacking. By bringing Buddhism from India into China, Bodhidharma is considered the founder of Chan (which later became Zen in Japan), a branch of practice that arose from the mingling of Indian and Chinese traditions. His teachings emphasized that “awakening” did not require the texts, lectures, sutras, and teachings of the past. Instead, “awakening” comes about through meditation and the practice of not seeking revenge (with neither animosity nor complaint), accepting circumstances, craving nothing, and being in accord with the dharma.

Dazu Huike
(Taiso Eka)

Jianzhi Sengcan
(Kanchi Sosan)
d. 606?

Dayi Daoxin
(Dai’I Doshin)
He named this new school of Buddhism “Chan,” which means “meditation.”

Daman Hongren
(Dajian Gunin)

Chan Schools Divide: The Northern School only lasts about 100 years longer, while the Southern School thrives.

Hui-neng “Caoxi”
(Daikan Eno)
Known as the 6th Zen Ancestor. As the story goes, he came from a barbarian village, and was a laborer and unseasoned layman in the temple. Yet he defeated the head monk (Shen-hsiu, Shenxiu) in a contest to interpret a poem by Hung-jen (Hongren), with the winner receiving the dharma robe of transmission. Shen-hsiu wrote:

The body is the Bodhi tree
The mind is like a bright mirror’s stand.
At all times we must strive to polish it
And must not let dust collect.

Hui-neng, who was illiterate, asked another monk to write his response on the wall:

Bodhi originally has no tree.
The bright mirror also has no stand.
Fundamentally there is not a single thing.
Where could dust arise?


We find our ancestors in these three koans texts — EXAMPLE:

GG = Gateless Gate, # 37 = Case Number
Names in this order: Wade-Giles – Chinese, Pinyin – Chinese, (Romanji – Japanese)

Southern School

Nan-yueh Huai-jang
Nanyue Huairang
(Nangaku Ejo)

Ma-tsu Tao-i
Mazu Daoyi
(Baso Doitsu)
GG #33
BCR #3, 53, 73
BOS # 6, 36
Grand Master Ma was an extraordinary teacher with a talent for expressing the Dharma and opening his student’s minds. He produced more heirs than any other teacher, contributing greatly to the success of Chan spreading far and wide in China. Some refer to Grand Master Ma, with his creative teaching methods, as the Grandfather of koan Zen.

Pai-chang Huai-hai
Baizhang Huaihai
(Hyakujo Ekai)
GG # 2, 40
BCR # 26, 28, 53, 70, 71, 72
BOS # 6, 8
Pai-chang’s Fox (GG #2) is a very important koan. It has been said, if you understand this koan, you understand Zen. Does an enlightened person fall into the law of cause and effect? Careful now about this matter or you may find yourself turned into a fox.

Huang-po His-yua
Huangbo Xiyun
(Obaku Kiun)
d. 850
BCR # 11
BOS # 53, 86

Chan Reaches Japan:
I-k’ung (in the lineage of Mazu) was the first Zen, or Chan, monk to come to Japan from China. This was in 847. A temple was built for him by Empress Kachiko, but the local Buddhist sects would have nothing to do with it. Eventually I-k’ung decided that the Japanese people would never accept or understand Zen, so he returned to China, and was never heard from again.

LIN-CHI I-hsuan
Linji Yixuan
(Rinzai Gigen)
d. 866
BCR # 20, 32
BOS # 13, 38, 86, 95
Was the founder of the Linji School of Chan, during the Tang Dynasty. It took prominence in China during the Song
Dynasty, 960-1279, and spread to Japan under the Rinzai School. He had the reputation of being iconoclastic, leading students to awakening by hitting and shouting.

Ming-tsan wrote a poem about Lin-chi’s teachings:

When you get hungry, eat your rice;
when you get sleepy, close your eyes.
Fools may laugh at me,
but wise men will know what I mean.

Hsing-hua Ts’ung-chiang
Xinghua Cunjian
(Koke Zonsho)
BOS #97

Nan-yuan Hui-yung
Nanyuan Huiyong
(Nan’in Egyo)
d. 930

Feng-hsueh Yen-chao
Fengxue Yanzhao
(Fuketsu Ensho)
GG # 24
BOS # 29, 34

Shou-shan- Hsing-nien
Shoushan Shengnian
(Shuzan Shonen)
GG # 43
BOS # 65, 76

Feng-yang Shan-chao
Fengyan Shanzhao
(Fun’yo Zensho)

Shih-shuang Ch’u-yuan
Shishuang Quyuan
(Sekiso-Soen) (Jimyo Soen)
GG # 46
BCR # 55

Yang-ch’i Fang-hui
Yanqi Fanghui
(Yogi Hoe)

Pai-yun Shou-tuan
Baiyun Shouduan
(Hakuun Shutan)

Wu-tsu Fa-yen
Wuzu Fayan
(Goso Hoen)
ca. 1024-1104
GG # 36, 38, 45

Yuan-wu K’o-ch’in
Yuanwu Keqin “Foguo”
(Engo Kokugon)
He would lecture on 100 public cases that had been assembled 60 years before by Hsueh-feng. Yuan-wu’s students collected, edited, and published their notes from his lectures. This became known as the Blue Cliff Record, first printed in 1128.

(Kukyu Joryu)



Sung-yuan Ch’ung-yuch
(Shogen Sogaku)
GG # 20

Uun’an Puyan

Xutang Zhiyu

Nan p’u Shao-ming
(Nampo Jomyo)
(Shomyo; Daio Kokushi)
Studied Linji teachings in China before founding the Otokan lineage of Rinzai in Japan.

Shuho Myocho

Kanzan Egen
(Muso Daishi)


Muin Soin

Nippo Shoshun
? 1368-1448

Sekko Soshin

Toyo Eicho

Yozan Keiyo
b. d. ?

Gudo Toshoku

Shido Bunan

Dokyo Ethane (also Shoju Rojin)

Hakuin Ekaku (Zenji)
One of the most influential figures in Japanese Buddhism; reviving the Rinzai School back to prominence by refocusing upon the importance of meditation and koans.

Gasan Jito

Takuju Kosen
(Daido Enkan)

Myoki Soseki

Karyo Zuika

Tankai Gensho

Dokutan (Sosan) Toyota

Harada, Daiun Sogaku

Rinzai and Soto Lineage:
Harada always remained in the Soto Lineage; but he also received transmission in the Rinzai Lineage from Dokutan (Sosan).

Haku’un Yasutani

Together, Harada and Yasutani created a blend or reformation of Soto and Rinzai Schools, which led to the formation of the Sanbo Kyodan School, and the disengagement with the Soto lineage

Sanbo Kyodan School
The lineages of the majority of the Zen Centers in the United States come from this school.

Yamada Koun Roshi
Translated the Gateless Gate

Robert Baker Aitken Roshi

Pacific Zen Institute is now the Pacific Zen School.



Part 2: Relatives and Welcome Guests

(N.B. – Women’s Names in Bold.)


Dharma Heir of Boddhidharma
6th C

Zenshin (Ordained 584)
Trained in Korea, the first ordained Buddhist in Japan.
Zenzo (2nd ordained in Japan)
Ezen (3rd ordained in Japan)

Fu Ta-shi
Fu Dashi
(Fu Daishi
A very popular lay practitioner. From one of his poems:
“With empty hands I hold a hoe …a man walks over a bridge – the bridge flows, the water does not.”
He appears in the BCL # 67.

Beomnang (632-646?)
A student of Tao-hsin, and Prince Kim Kiaokak (630-7290), probably had the most influence in bringing Soen (Chan) to Korea.

Nan-ch’uan P’u-yuan
(Nansen Fugan)
GG# 14, 19, 34
BCR # 28, 40, 63, 64, 69
BOS # 9, 23, 69, 79, 91, 93

Ma-yu Pao-ch’e
Mayu Baoche
(Mayoku Hotetsu)
BOS #16

Layman Pang (P’ang Yun)
Pangun (Hoon)
BCR # 42
Pang’s initial awakening was with Shih-t’ou and then later with Ma’tsu. Some would regard him a successor to both these masters. Although he remained a layman, he was well-regarded as a fine teacher wherever he and his family went:

The Layman was sitting in his thatched cottage one day [studying the sūtras]. “Difficult, difficult,” he said; “like trying to scatter ten measures of sesame seed all over a tree.” “Easy, easy,” Mrs. Pang said; “like touching
your feet to the ground when you get out of bed.” “Neither difficult nor easy,” Ling Zhao said; “…like the grasses growing. Bright, bright grass.”


Layman Pang’s daughter
Misc. Koans # 75

Laywoman Pang
Mrs. Pang

d. 800s
Wife of Layman Pang. She was
making an offering at a temple and
the priest asked on whose behalf she
made the offering. She took out her
comb, stuck it in the back of her hair,
and said, “Dedication of merit is
complete,” and walked out.

Tao-wu Yuan-chih
Daowu Yuanzhi
(Dogo Enchi)
BOS # 21, 54, 83

Yun-yen T’an-sheng
Yunyan Tansheng
(Ungan Donjo)
BOS # 21, 49, 54

Kuei-shan Ling-yu
Guishan Lingyou
(Issan Reiyu)
BOS # 15, 37, 60, 83, 87
He may have worked for twenty years as the head cook in Pai-chang’s monastery. He was still serving in that position when Pai-chang picked him to establish another monastery. A highly touted master, forty-three people received transmission from Kuei-shan, one a woman named Liu Tiemo.

Liu T’ieh-mo
Her Zen style was described as “precipitously awesome and dangerous.” Her ability to test the depth of Zen monk adepts brought her the name Iron Grinder.
Liu Tiemo
(Ryu Tetsuma)

ca. 780-859
BCR # 24
BOS # 60

Tung-shan (Liang-chieh)
GG # 15, 18
BCR # 12, 43
BOS # 22, 49, 56, 89, 94, 98

Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen
(Joshu Jushin)
GG # 1, 7, 11, 19, 31, 37
BCR # 2, 9, 30, 41, 45, 52, 57, 58, 59,
64, 80, 96
BOS # 10, 18, 39, 47, 57, 63
A great Chan Master of the Tang Dynasty; he was especially known for his paradoxical statements and strange deeds. His lineage died out quickly though, due to the many wars and frequent purges of Buddhism at this time in China.

Lung-t’an (Ch’ung-hsin)
(Ryutan Soshin)
8th/9th C
GG # 28

Moshan Liaoran
8th and 9th C
She received transmission from
Gaoan Dayu
Kao-an Ta-yu
(Koan Daigu)

Te-shan (Hsuan-chien)
Tokusan Senkan
GG # 13, 28
BCR # 4
BOS # 14, 22, 46, 55
Te-shan learned that his awakening did not come from his knowledge of the Diamond Sutra; it came from his direct experience after he said to Lung T’an, “ It’s dark outside.”

(Gutei Chikan)
9th C
GG # 3
BCR # 19

9th C
There is a koan where she gets the best of Juzhi by walking in and not taking off her hat.

Yang-shan (Hui-chi)
(Kyozan Ejaku)
GG # 25
BCR # 34, 68
BOS # 15, 26, 32, 37, 62, 72, 77, 90

Studied with Yang-shan who put her in charge of Secular Affairs, a moderately important job, because she was the most suitable person. She would surprise visiting monks with her koan skills and turning words.

(Ganto Zenkatsu)
BOS # 22, 43, 50, 55, 75

Hsueh-feng I-ts’un
Xuefeng Yicun
(Seppo Gison)
BOS # 24, 33, 50, 55
It took him two decades of traveling to many teachers, sometimes over and over again, before he awakened. This
was a great lesson to students about failure, struggle, and plodding along. He became a very effective teacher. Chan Proverb: “A superior vessel takes a long time to complete.”

Hsuan-sha Shih-pei
Xuansha Shibei
(Gensha Shibi)
BOS # 21, 24, 81

Ch’ang-ch’ing Hui-leng
Changqing Huileng
(Chokei Eryo)
BOS # 24, 64, 71

Fa-yen (Wen-i)
(Hogen Bun’eki)
GG # 26
BCR # 7
BOS # 17, 20, 27, 51, 64, 74

Lang-yeh Hui-chueh
Langye Huijue
(Roya Ekaku)
BOS # 14, 51, 100

Yun-men (Wen-yen)
(Ummon Bun’en)
GG 15, 16, 21, 39, 48
BCR # 6, 8, 14, 15, 22, 27, 39, 47, 50,
54, 60, 62, 77, 83, 86, 87, 88, 89
BOS # 11, 19, 21, 26, 31, 40, 61, 71,
78, 82, 92, 99
Yun-men is often thought of as the last great genius of Chan. He studied under Mu-chou Tao-t’sung (successor of Huang-po) and Hsueh-feng.

Someone asked Master Yun-men, “I request your instruction, Master!” The Master said, “ABCDEF.” The questioner: “I don’t understand.” The Master, “GHIJKL.”

Dharma heir of Fo-yen Ch’ing-yuan
(a.k.a. Longman), Linji School

Foyan Quingyuan
(Butsugen Seion)

Was Huiwen’s heir, a.k.a. “Great Master Wuxiang”.

d. 1165
Studied with Caodong priest Kumu Fazyeng and became his Dharma heir. Taught monks, nuns and lay people.

Was abbot of five different convents in her life, helping to spread Chan among many women; but she had at least one male heir.

Kongshi Daoren
Zhidong Gongshi Daoren
Zen Master and poet:

Self and other are never different
The many things in the world are just reflections
Bright, full, holding both principle and practice,
Completely experienced, filled with
the absolute. Every single thing holds all things,
This continues layer upon layer without end –
Moving still, it never stops, this interpenetration.

She studied with Linji Master Sixin Wuxin.

Hung-chih Cheng-cheh
Honggzhi Zengjue
(Wanshi Shogaku)
Compiled the 100 koans which we know today as The Book of Serenity (Equanimity).

Yu Daopo
Early to middle 1100s
She studied with Langye Yongqi after hearing him speak about the true person of no rank. She was his only Dharma heir and lived the person of no rank by refusing to be ordained.

Dharma heir of Linji Master Dahui Zonggao. He gave her his koan: It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing. What is it?

Myoan Eisai
Is credited with bringing the Linji School of Chan Buddhism and green tea from China to Japan. Rinzai Zen was back, welcomed by the samurai in Kamakura.

Wu-men Hui-k’ai
Wumen Huikai
(Mumon Ekai)
A Linji Master, most famous as the compiler of and commentator on the 48-koan collection The Gateless Gate
(Japanese: Mumonkan).

Dogen Zenji
Founder of Soto School of Zen in Japan after travelling to China and training under Rujing (1163-1228), a master of the Chinese Caodong lineage. Legend has it that before he was to leave China to return to Japan,
he stayed up all night and copied the Blue Cliff Record. In 1235, Dogen assembled a collection of three
hundred koans, titled the Mana Shobogenzo which remained in obscurity for many centuries.

Mugai Nyodai
Studied with Enni Benen (1200-1281) and Wuxue Zuyuan (1226-1286).
Dharma transmission from Mugaku Sogen. The First woman in Japanese history to be recognized as a Rinzai Zen Master.

Kakusan Shido
Founder of Tokei-ji (Rinzai convent)

Keizan Jokin (Taiso Josai Daishi)
4th Generation Dharma heir of Dogen
Encouraged training of women, heirs include Ekyu, Myosho and Sonin.

Keizan’s deciple and the first Japanese woman to receive full Soto Dharma transmission. (early 1300s)

Myosho Enkan
Keizan’s cousin, became abbot of Entsu’in after Mokufu Sonin.

Fifth abbess of Tokei-ji teaching poetry and koans.

Heir of Gasan and had female heirs of her own. Mid 1300s

14th Century
Was the daughter of a general and became famous for her “warrior zen” when barred from entering Engakuji for a lecture.

A controversial sometimes monk Zen teacher, and sometimes layperson or wandering vagabond. Renowned for his haiku, flute playing and important influence on the Fuke sect of Rinzai Zen.

I hate it I know it’s nothing but I
suck out the world’s sweet juicy plum

Zhiyuan Xinggang
Dharma transmission from Tongshen (1593-1638)

Tachibana no Someko
Was a concubine of a Japanese feudal war lord. Several of her children had died young – she became depressed. This changed after she experienced her awakening with Master Ungan of Ryukoji through koan study.

A great haiku poet, his poetry was greatly influenced by Zen. Studied with Rinzai teacher Butcho.

Ryonen Gensho
Rinzai training at Hokyu-o,
Later ordained by Haku-o

Torei Enji (Zenji)
Was a “genius assistant” and Dharma heir of Hakuin. His Boddhisattva’s Vow is a traditional Rinzai sutra.

Disciple and Dharma heir of Hakuin

Hakuin certified her awakening after a bold of lightning struck nearby, eventually became a nun.

Philip Kapleau
Dharma heir of Yasutani.
Founded Rochester Zen
Center, NY

Taizan Maezumi
Dharma heir of Yasutani.
Founded ZCLA (Zen Center of
Los Angeles in 1967

His Dharma heir, Gerry Shishin Wick, translated the Book of Equanimity



FINAL COMMENT: By its nature, this project is open-ended and incomplete. As time passes and new historical or otherwise revelations appear, I trust others will continue on, adding new names to our rich heritage. – Bill Krumbein



Alphabetical List of Ancestors

(N.B. – Women’s Names in Bold.)


1. Basho – 1644-1694
2. Beomnang – 632-646?
3. Boddhidharma – #28 Ca. 470-543 (d.532?)
4. Buddha Shakyamuni
5. Ch’ang-ch’ing Hui-leng – 854-932
6. Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen -778-897
7. Chu-chih (Gutei) – 9th C
8. Dogen Zenji – 1200-1253
9. Dokutan (Sosan) Toyota – 1840-1917
10. Dokyo Ethane (also Shoju Rojin) – 1642-1721
11. Ekyu – Early 1300s
12. Ezen – d. 606?
13. Fa-yen (Wen-i) – 885-958
14. Fadeng – 1100s
15. Feng-hsueh Yen-chao – 893-973
16. Feng-yang Shan-chao – 947-1024
17. Foyan Quingyuan – 1067-1120
18. Fu Ta-shi – 497-569
19. Gasan Jito – 1726-1797
20. Gudo Toshoku – 1579-1676
21. Haku’un Yasutani – 1885-1973
22. Hakuin Ekaku (Zenji) – 1685-1768
23. Harada, Daiun Sogaku – 11/13/1871-12/12/1961
24. Honggzhi Zengjue 1091-1157
25. Hsing-hua Ts’ung-chiang – 830-888
26. Hsuan-sha Shih-pei – 835-908
27. Hsueh-feng I-ts’un – 822-908
28. Huang-po His-yuan – nd. 850
29. Hui-k’o – 487-593
30. Hui-neng “Caoxi” – 638-713
31. Huiguang – d. 1165
32. Huiwen – 1100s
33. Hung-chih Cheng-chueh – 1091-1157
34. Hung-jen – 601—674
35. Ikkyu – 1394-1481
36. I-k’ung
37. Juo-Sohistu – 1296-1380
38. Kakusan Shido – 1252-1305
39. Kanzan Egen – 1277-1360
40. Karyo Zuika – 1790-1859
41. Keizan Jokin – 1268-1325
42. Kongshi Daoren – 1050-1124
43. Kuei-shan Ling-yu -771-853
44. Kukyu Joryu – 1077-1136
45. Lang-yeh Hui-chueh – n.d.
46. Layman Pang (P’ang Yun) – 740-808
47. Laywoman Pang – d. 800s
48. LIN-CHI I-hsuan – d. 866
49. Ling-chao – Layman Pang’s daughter 762-808
50. Liu T’ieh-mo – (Iron-grinder) ca 780-859
51. Lung-t’an (Ch’ung-hsin) – 8th/9th C
52. Ma-tsu Tao-I – 709-788
53. Ma-yu Pao-ch’e – n.d.
54. Mi-an – 1118-1186
55. Miaodao – 1090-1163
56. Miaoxin – 840-895
57. Mokufu Sonin.
58. Moshan Liaoran – 8th and 9th C
59. Mugai Nyodai – 1223-1298
60. Muin Soin – 1326-1410
61. Myoan Eisai – 1141-1215
62. Myoki Soseki – 1774-1848
63. Myosho Enkan
64. Nan p’u Shao-ming – 1235-1309
65. Nan-ch’uan P’u-yuan – 748-835
66. Nan-yuan Hui-yung – d. 930
67. Nan-yueh Huai-jang – 677-744
68. Nippo Shoshun – ? 1368-1448
69. Ohashi
70. Pai-chang Huai-hai – 720-814
71. Pai-yun Shou-tuan – 1025-1072
72. Prajnatara #27
73. Richard J (Richie) Domingue – 6/7/1947-7/3/2005
74. Robert Baker Aitken Roshi – 6/19/1917-8/5/2010
75. Ryonen Gensho – 1646-1711
76. Satsu – 1700s
77. Sekko Soshin – 1408-1486
78. Seng-ts’an d. 606
79. Shido Bunan – 1603-1676
80. Shih-shuang Ch’u-yuan – 986-1039
81. Shiji – 9th C
82. Shou-shan- Hsing-nien – 925-992
83. Shuho Myocho – 1282-1338
84. Soitsu – Mid 1300s
85. Sung-yuan Ch’ung-yuch – 1139-1209
86. Tachibana no Someko – 1660-1705
87. Taizan Maezumi – 2/24/1931-5/15/ 1995
88. Takuju Kosen – 1760-1833
89. Tankai Gensho – 1811-1898
90. Tao-hsin – 580-651
91. Tao-wu Yuan-chih – 769-835
92. Te-shan (Hsuan-chien) – 782-865
93. Torei Enji (Zenji) – 1721-1792
94. Toyo Eicho – 1429-1504
95. Tung-shan (Liang-chieh) -807-869
96. Uun’an Puyan – 1156-1226
97. Wenzhao – 1100s
98. Wu-men Hui-k’ai – 1183-1260
99. Wu-tsu Fa-yen – 1024-1104
100. Xutang Zhiyu – 1185-1269
101. Yamada Koun Roshi – 1907-1989
102. Yang-ch’i Fang-hui – 992-1049
103. Yang-shan (Hui-chi) – 807-883
104. Yen-t’ou – 828-887
105. Ying-an – 1103-1163
106. Yodo – 1318-1396
107. Yoshihime – 14th Century
108. Yozan Keiyo – b. d. ?
109. Yu Daopo – Early to middle 1100s
110. Yuan-wu K’o-ch’in – 1063-1135
111. Yun-men (Wen-yen) – 864-949
112. Yun-yen T’an-sheng -780-841
113. Zenshin
114. Zenzo
115. Zhiyuan Xinggang – 1597-1657
116. Zongchi – 6th C

Support Us

Through your generosity, you help people find their own path into awakening, keep our doors open to everyone regardless of means, support our teachers, and help our systems run smoothly.

Give Dana

Join our Mailing List


Stay in touch with news from: