This presentation describes the changes of Chan Buddhism during the Late Tang– Five Dynasties with a focus on the following four stages:
First, Mazu Daoyi 馬祖道一 (709-788) of Jiangxi awakened people to the idea that “this mind itself is buddha” in his dialogues, which marks the true beginning of Tang-era Chan. Yet, as this idea carried with it the danger of making people complacent with their current situation of unenlightenment, there soon arose critical responses to Mazu’s ideology which is represented by the second main lineage of Chan founded by Shitou Xiquan 石頭希遷（700-790）of Hunan.
Second, in the wake of the Huichang persecution (845), both the monks Zhaozhou Congshen 趙州從諗（778-897）of Hebei, and Xuefeng Yicun 雪峰義存（822-908）of Fujian, became representatives of the Chan school. Zhaozhou criticized Shitou’s position and returned to Mazu-style Chan, while Xuefeng attempted to find a new style of Chan which would overcome the criticisms raised towards the Chan styles of both the Mazu and Shitou lineages. The political situation in the north was unstable, and while Zhaozhou's dharma lineage disappeared very quickly, the Chan lineage of Xuefeng flourished under the patronage of the Kingdom of Min.
Third, Xuefeng produced a great many disciples, with the most influential ones being Xuansha Shibei 玄沙師備 (835-908) and Yunmen Wenyan 雲門文偃 (864-949). Although both monks tried to transcend the thought of Xuefeng, their views on truth were different: Xuahsha presented an infinite mind that embraces everything, while Yunmen rejected all discriminatory thinking as the means of enlightenment. Yunmen's lineage prospered in the Southern Han, while Xuansha's lineage prospered in the Southern Tang and the Kingdom of Wuyue.
Fourth, Xuansha's disciples had a separate and independent identity from that of Xuefeng's heirs, and disputes arose between them. Later in Wuyue, Tiantai Deshao 天台徳韶 (891-972) of the Xuansha faction was instituted as a national preceptor by Qian Hongchu 錢弘俶 (r. 948-978), the fifth king of Wuyue, and the superiority of Xuansha's lineage was established under his authority. Deshao had two important successors—Yongming Yanshou 永明延壽 (904-976), who compiled the Zongjing lu to integrate the entirety Buddhist thought and practice from the standpoint of Chan—and Daoyuan 道原(dates unknown), who compiled the Jingde chuandeng lu to integrate the entirety of Buddhist history from the standpoint of Chan. The Buddhism of the Kingdom of Wuyue was passed down to the next era as Qian Hongchu presented the land of his kingdom to the Song Dynasty, and these two texts were also inherited and official recognized as orthodox Buddhist doctrine in the Song period with their inclusion in the Buddhist canon.