Daosheng (360?–434), also Zhu Daosheng; Chinese Buddhist monk, student of the Nirvāṇa Sūtra, and early proponent of a doctrine of sudden enlightenment]].
The precise age at which Daosheng entered the religious life is unknown.
Accounts of his early career state only that he studied under Zhu Fatai (a disciple, with Dao'an, of Fotudeng) in Jiankang, the southern capital.
In 397 he journeyed to Mount Lu and became the disciple of Dao'an's most famous student, Huiyuan.
During his first year on Lushan, Daosheng took advantage of the presence of the Kashmiri monk Saṃghadeva to study the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma literature.
Around 406 he left Lushan for the northern capital of Chang'an, where he presumably attended Kumārajīva's translation seminars of the Vimalakīrti and Saddharma-puṇḍarīka Sūtra s. Later, he wrote commentaries to both of these scriptures.
In 407 Daosheng abruptly left Chang'an and returned to Lushan, bearing with him a copy of Sengzhao's Boruo wu zhi lun (Prajñā is not knowledge).
Liu Yimin's correspondence with Sengzhao regarding this text, included in the Zhaolun, resulted from this fortuitous transmission.
Shortly after arriving on Mount Lu, Daosheng was off again, this time to Jiankang, where in 418 Faxian translated a recension of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra.
This text, like its Hīnayāna namesake, purported to record the last discourse of the Buddha, a fact that very naturally conferred on it a prestige and authority all its own.
Quite unlike the Hīnayāna version, however, the Mahāyāna text preached that nirvāṇa was "permanent, joyous, personal, and pure" (Chin., chang, le, wo [!], jing ), assertions that are substantially at odds with the normative Mahāyāna teaching that the nature of nirvāṇa, like that of all dharma s, is itself empty (śūnya ) of all attributes.
More curious to Daosheng's ears, however, was the statement in Faxian's translation that the icchantika s (Chin., yichanti, beings who have cut off their roots of virtue and seek only to gratify their desires) could never attain buddhahood.
To Daosheng, such a statement vitiated the central claim of Mahāyāna Buddhism to be a vehicle of salvation for all beings. …