Chan Master Yi Xuan （AD 787-867） was the founder of the Linji school of Chan Buddhism. He was born in Nanhua District in Caozhou. After he became a monk, he first studied vinaya and scriptures, and then travelled widely to learn from various teachers. After he was verified for his awakening state by Chan Master Huangbo Xiyun, Master Yi Xuan, in the eighth year of Emperor Tang Taizong （AD 854）， came to Linji Temple in Zhenzhou to preach and teach. His unique teaching style made this Chan school shine through the history.
When Yi Xuan was trained under Chan Master Huangbo Xiyun, he asked what in brief is Buddha-Dharma? Unexpectedly, the master hit him with a stick. Very confounded, Yi Xuan asked himself, “What did I do wrong?” Later on, Chan Master Da Yu made him realized that sudden hit could cut off the deluded thoughts, allowing the Buddha nature to manifest.
After the founding of the Linji school, Yi Xuan inherited Chan ideas of Chan Master Dao Yi and Xi Yun that “All one does is the Way.” Further, Master Yi Xuan proposed that “Reality is where you are now.” He emphasized to act spontaneously and to go with karmic flow. His teaching flexibly adopted various means and became well known for abrupt but profound dialogues, in which he engaged the people to awake them suddenly. Shouting is one of the means he frequently used that proved very effective. Hence, the saying of “Linji shout and Deshan stick” came to being. This shouting style has become an iconic pedagogy of Chinese Chan school.
As the lineage reached Shishuang Chuyuan （AD 986-1039）， the Linji school was again divided into two sub-sects of Huanglong and Yangqi. Both were introduced to Japan in the twelfth and the thirteenth century and flourished there.