Zen master Hanshan Deqing is considered one of the four most eminent Buddhist monks in the late Ming Dynasty [1368-1644] partly for his social-political interactions with Ming court, interpretation of Buddhist texts, and most importantly, for his Chan practice. He widely propagated the teachings of Chán and Pure Land Buddhism.
Hanshan Deqing is regarded as one of the great reformers of Chinese Buddhism during the later Ming Dynasty, renowned as a lecturer and commentator and admired for his strict adherence to the precepts. Like many of his contemporaries, he advocated the dual practice of the Chán and Pure Land methods and advocated the use of the niànfó technique to purify the mind for the attainment of self-realization.
According to his autobiography, Hanshan Deqing entered a monastic school in Nanjing’s Bao’en temple at the age of twelve. While there he studied literature as well as religious subjects and began writing poetry when he was 17. Two years later he was ordained as a Chan monk under the Buddhist name of Cheng Yin.
According to Jiang Wu, for Chan masters such as Hanshan Deqing, training through self-cultivation was encouraged, while cliched or formulaic instructions were despised. Eminent monks who practiced Meditation and asceticism without proper Dharma transmission were acclaimed as acquiring "wisdom without teacher." Jiang Wu writes that Deqing questioned the value of Dharma transmission and believed that the enlightenment of the mind was more important than nominal claims of transmission. In 1571 he set out as a religious wanderer, going from monastery to monastery in search of instruction and growing in Meditative attainment. After four years he settled on Mount Wutai but by 1583 he had become famous as a Buddhist Master and set out travelling to remote areas again