Boshan (1575-1630) was one of the leading Chinese masters of the Ming dynasty. Boshan, or Mount Bo, is the name of the mountain where he was active; like many masters, he became known as such. He is also known as Wuyi Yuanli and Dayi.
Boshan hailed from Shucheng in present-day Anhui Province, west of Nanjing. He left home in his mid-teens, took up Buddhist study and practice, including five years of sustained meditative discipline, and received full ordination. Later he practiced under the Caodong (Japanese: Soto) master Wuming Huijing (1548-1618), a severe teacher who persistently rejected Boshan’s intial insights. One day, while sitting intently in meditation on a rock, Boshan had a sudden realization when he heard a statue nearby fall with a crash. The following year he was greatly awakened when watching a person climb a tree. He was in his late-twenties at the time. Boshan received the Bodhisattva precepts before teaching at several monasteries, finally settling at Mount Bo in present-day Jiangxi Province, south of Anhui. He was one of Wuming Huijing’s four Dharma heirs, and he himself left behind several Dharma heirs and lay disciples. He passed away in 1630.