Zhi Dun (Chinese: 支遁; pinyin: Zhī Dùn; Wade–Giles: Chih-tun; 314-366 CE) was a Chinese Buddhist monk and philosopher. A Chinese author, scholar, and confidant of Chinese government officials in 350 CE, he claimed that all who followed Buddhism would, at the end of their life, enter Nirvana.[1]

The Monk Zhi Dun Admiring a Horse (1876, cropped) by Ren Yi

In his book, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, Feng Youlan recounts a story from the Shishuo Xinyu regarding Zhi Dun's fondness for cranes:

"Once a friend gave him two young [cranes]. When they grew up, Chih-tun was forced to clip their wings so that they would not fly away. When this was done, the cranes looked despondent, and Chih-tun too was depressed, and said: "Since they have wings that can reach the sky, how can they be content to be a pet of man?" Hence when their feathers had grown again, he let the cranes fly away."[2]


  1. ^ Berkowitz, Alan J. (2000). Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 143. ISBN 9780804736039. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  2. ^ Fung, Yu-lan (1966). A Short History of Chinese Philosophy. New York, N.Y.: Free Press-MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 236–237.