CHAN . The Chan school of Buddhism developed in China beginning in the sixth century ce, spread to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam beginning in the ninth century, and has moved to Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world in modern times. The name Chan (Sŏn in Korean, Thiền in Vietnamese, and Zen in Japanese) is the Chinese transliteration of the Indian word for concentration meditation, dhyāna in Sanskrit and jhāna in Pali (and similar forms in other prakrits or vernacular Indian languages).
Although Chan is thus named after a type of Buddhist meditation, it does not by any means have a monopoly on the practice of meditation in East Asia, nor is its own identity as a school limited to meditation alone. The best key to understanding Chinese Chan is actually the genealogical quality of its historical identity and style of spiritual cultivation. Like other Buddhist schools, Chan defines itself not as one among many schools or interpretations of Buddhism but as the authentic teaching of Śākyamuni Buddha. In the case of Chan, this teaching is understood as having been transmitted from Śākyamuni through an unbroken sequence of Indian and Chinese patriarchs and down to the masters of the present age. This transmission took place, advocates of the school assert, without words and from mind to mind, entirely apart from the translation and exposition of written scriptures. And, just as each recognized member of the Chan lineage thus identifies himself (or, much less commonly, herself) according to a specific genealogy of masters and disciples, so is the religious practice of Chan framed within a patriarchal structure resembling a father-son succession. Chan teachers and students are often depicted as engaging in "encounter dialogue," conceived of as a spontaneous oral interchange in which masters use a variety of verbal and physical strategies to provoke their followers out of limited, patterned thinking and propel them into a direct realization of the truth. From the twelfth century onward it became common to use such anecdotes as foci of meditative concentration, called gongan (public cases, or precedents; Jpn., kōan). Since the anecdotes chosen for such instruction were often derived from the teacher's own lineage, students were thus encouraged to examine and in some ways emulate the enlightened behavior of their own genealogical predecessors.
The historical development of Chinese Chan may be divided into six overlapping stages: (1) proto-Chan, referring to the activities of the founding patriarch Bodhidharma (d. c. 530) and the loosely connected group of wandering ascetics who venerated him; (2) early Chan, from the mid-seventh through the end of the eighth century, when a number of stable community groups and competing factions emerged and the basic terms of the school's teachings and historical self-identity were first elaborated in writing; (3) middle Chan, from the latter part of the eighth through the tenth century, when encounter dialogue emerged as the primary mode of Chan religious expression; (4) Song-dynasty Chan, the pinnacle of Chan activity in the tenth to thirteenth centuries, when the school dominated Chinese monastic institutions and created its most characteristic ideals (including the "classical" image of middle-period masters as enlightened sages); (5) later imperial Chan, from the end of the thirteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century, when there occurred a number of variations on earlier themes and new combinations with other forms of Buddhist activity, in particular Pure Land Buddhism; and (6) modern Chan in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when various individuals and groups worked to identify with or capitalize upon the reputation Chan achieved through its encounter with the modern, and in particular the Western, world.
Knowledge about the first two phases of Chan has been aided immeasurably by the discovery of Chan-related manuscripts at Dunhuang, China, which have provided insight into the tradition unfiltered by perspectives from the Song dynasty and later. The middle period, in contrast, which is inevitably described by anecdotes concerning some of the most famous sages of the Chan tradition, is known almost exclusively through Song-dynasty materials and thus represents the most difficult challenge to historical scholarship. And, although there are massive quantities of primary-source material for the Song dynasty and later, these have not yet been thoroughly studied, especially in Western languages. In spite of an abundance of source material, including publications by Chinese Buddhist teachers identifying themselves as Chan monks, there is as yet relatively little scholarly analysis of how Chan might function as a coherent set of themes and practices in the contemporary world, especially given the complex interrelationships between Chinese Chan, Japanese Zen, Korean Sŏn, Vietnamese Thiền, and their offspring traditions in Western countries.
Bodhidharma is universally revered as the founding patriarch of Chan, but very little is known about him. Traditionally, he is identified as the son of a brahman king of southern India, who arrived in southern China during the reign of the pro-Buddhist sovereign, Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty (r. 501–549). Asked by Emperor Wu about the religious value of his support for Buddhism, Bodhidharma is supposed to have replied, "No merit whatsoever." Following this, Bodhidharma crossed the Yangzi River and took up meditation in a cave at Shaolinsi on Mount Song (Henan province). His most famous student and eventual successor, Huike (c. 485–555/574), is supposed to have cut off his own arm in his zeal to persuade Bodhidharma to convey the Buddhist teachings.
It is important to recognize that Chan stories such as the preceding are generally without historical basis, and simultaneously to appreciate the profoundly important role such creations played within the growth of the Chan tradition. Rather than undercutting their importance, the fictive quality of such anecdotes actually enhances their significance as imaginative scriptings of enlightened behavior. That is, rather than events involving one or two historical figures, they were molded by mythopoeic processes that involved thousands upon thousands of people, and which served to mold the basic conceptual patterns by which the school developed. This relationship between the triviality of journalistically accurate history and the profound importance of mythological and legendary themes is not restricted to Bodhidharma or proto-Chan, but actually applies to all of Chinese Chan Buddhism: what is not "true" is often demonstrably more important. With regard to Bodhidharma, we know that his role within the Chan movement was essentially legendary, that is, the school was built as much on the idea of him as a foreign meditation master as on the basis of any specific teachings or accomplishments.
There exists a text attributed to Bodhidharma known as the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices (Erru sixing lun), which establishes the basic configuration of Chan religious thought. The "entrance of principle" (liru) is explained using the concept of the buddha-nature, the fully enlightened mind that all sentient beings harbor within the recesses of their own identities, obscured by deluded thinking and dualistic conceptualization. The text's explanation of how to undertake this approach is vague, especially in its use of the term wall-contemplation (biguan), which initially seems to have referred to a state of being firmly closed off from outside sensory influence. (In later years this term was understood simplistically as "sitting facing a wall.") The "entrance of practice" (xingru) is described as a set of attitudes of nonattachment to one's states of suffering and happiness, so that one eventually acts fully in accord with the dharma in all situations. This text's use of the buddha-nature concept and the pairing of the two entrances, one meditative and focused inwardly, and the other active and focused on outward behavior, represented the building blocks from which Chan discourse developed.
Little is known about the early followers of Bodhidharma; they consisted of individuals and small groups of wandering ascetics associated with various sites in north China. They were apparently devoted to the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, and the Dunhuang manuscript of this text includes a number of letters and dialogues they appended to it. In later years (after about the end of the eighth century), however, this text came to be de-emphasized, since it was no longer compatible with the hagiographic image of Bodhidharma as an inspired raconteur.
This phase of Chan includes a number of distinct communities and factions, to be dealt with here in succession.
East Mountain teaching
The meditation instructors Daoxin (580–651) and Hongren (601–674) spent exactly half a century (624–674) in the same monastic complex in Huangmei (Hubei province). To this may be added another quarter century of residence (675–701) by Hongren's student Shenxiu (c. 606–706) at Yuquansi in Jingzhou (also Hubei). Thus the East Mountain community developed for fully seventy-five years in provincial locations. At Huangmei, Daoxin and Hongren taught meditation to an increasing number of Buddhist monks and nuns of various backgrounds; there is no evidence that they engaged in any Buddhist activity other than this. In contrast to the handful of names associated with Bodhidharma and Huike, there are about a dozen associated with Daoxin and twice the number associated with Hongren.
In 701 Shenxiu traveled to Luoyang (Henan province), one of the two capitals of medieval China, where he had been invited to teach in the palace by the only woman to rule China in her own name, Empress Wu (r. 684–705). Here Shenxiu proclaimed himself a successor to Hongren's "pure teaching of East Mountain," explaining that the essence of Buddhism was "contemplation of the mind" and interpreting any and all Buddhist doctrines as metaphors for this practice. For example, he wrote metaphorically, "those who seek emancipation always consider the body as the lamp's stand, the mind as the lamp's dish, and faith as the lamp's wick…If one constantly burns such a lamp of truly suchlike true enlightenment, its illumination will destroy all the darkness of ignorance and stupidity." Shenxiu thus emphasized that one should constantly remain in meditation while constantly working to aid sentient beings—an explanation of the bodhisattva ideal of Mahāyāna Buddhism. His teachings were spectacularly popular in the sophisticated society of the Chinese imperial capitals (at both Luoyang and Chang'an), and after his death the most prominent of his more than seventy students continued as instructors to court society throughout the 730s, as did their students and later successors (with somewhat lesser prominence) after that.
Shenxiu and his students carried with them a written explanation of their master Hongren's teachings known as the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind (Xiuxin yao lun), which they edited after Hongren's death in memory of his legacy. Here the buddha-nature concept introduced in the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices was clarified by means of a metaphor of sun and clouds: Just as the sun is constantly shining even when obstructed by clouds, so the practitioner should maintain awareness of the existence of the buddha-nature within, even if it is obscured by human ignorance. The Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind includes two different specific practices of meditation, framed within a combination of seemingly contradictory exhortations to make an effort in spiritual cultivation, on the one hand, and to avoid positing enlightenment as an objectified goal, on the other.
The text attributed retrospectively to Hongren was only the first of several to be composed after his students began moving into the two capitals. The most important of these texts, the earliest of the "transmission of the lamp" genre, narrated the transmission of Buddhism by a sequence of meditation masters. Although these works discussed only teachers active in China (and not their Indian predecessors) and differed among themselves in the specifics of the transmission, they contained the first written expressions of the Chan lineage theory. The individual described as the "third patriarch" in traditional Chan sources, Sengcan, is only mentioned for the first time in a text from 689 ce; the justifiably famous Inscription on Believing in Mind (Xinxin ming) attributed to him was composed sometime in the middle of the eighth century.
Beginning in 730 a monk named Shenhui (684–758) attacked Shenxiu's students as belonging to a nonmainstream lineage and advocating an inferior teaching. He asserted boldly that his own teacher, the hitherto obscure Huineng (638–713) of Caoqi in the far south (Guangdong province), was Hongren's only fully authorized successor and was the "sixth patriarch" of Chan Buddhism, and that only this single lineage was legitimate. It was Shenhui who labeled Shenxiu and his successors the "Northern school" and Huineng's teaching the "Southern school," based on the geographical locations where the two masters taught. (Shenxiu's successors did not refer to themselves in this fashion until decades later.)
Shenhui himself was not a meditation instructor, but an evangelist; he had no long-term relationships with students, and for him religious wisdom was something to be achieved immediately, in an instantaneous flash of insight, rather than requiring nurturing over lengthy periods of self-cultivation. A gifted storyteller, Shenhui inspired his students and listeners with a message of nondualistic wisdom that he described as the teaching of sudden enlightenment. Although his doctrinal innovations and entertaining public presentations were very appealing, the factionalist and even ad hominem quality of his campaign against the alleged gradualism of the Northern school created a crisis in early Chan.
Oxhead school and Platform Sūtra
The factionalist crisis fomented by Shenhui was resolved by the Oxhead school and the capstone text of early Chan, the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu tan jing). Although the Oxhead school had its own fictive lineage, tracing itself back to a student of Daoxin's, its members adopted the legendary image of Huineng as sixth patriarch. Oxhead school figures tended to downplay any differences between the Northern and Southern schools, making statements such as "the mind is the central principle" (using the term zong, which is also used with the meaning "school"). The most representative Oxhead text is the Treatise on the Transcendence of Cogni-tion (Jueguan lun), which presents a dialogue between a fictional student and teacher proceeding in three stages: (1) questions and answers about the dharma, (2) the student's perception of the nonexistence of all things, and (3) the student's final realization of the ultimate truth.
This threefold structure is also apparent in the famous Platform Sūtra, the earliest version of which appeared about 780. This text draws on Shenhui's acceptance of Huineng as Hongren's only successor but effectively writes Shenhui out of the story, saying nothing of his famous campaign and belittling him as a foolish young monk. The Platform Sūtra story is, like the anecdotes about Bodhidharma, demonstrably ahistorical: Shenxiu studied with Hongren in the 650s, not toward the end of the master's life, and the very notion of selecting a single successor was only conceivable after Shenhui's campaign. However, the text has been widely influential as a religious scripture, known especially for its inspired depiction of Huineng as an unlettered sage.
In south-central China in the latter half of the eighth century there emerged two lineages of Chan practitioners that came to embody a new approach to Buddhist spiritual cultivation based on lively interaction between teachers and students and often iconoclastic behavior, a style of discourse known as encounter dialogue. The chief figures in this new development were Shitou Xiqian (710–790) in Hubei and Mazu Daoyi (709–788) in Jiangxi, who are remembered as progenitors of the Caodong (Jpn., Sōtō) and Linji (Jpn., Rinzai) lineages, respectively. Many of the most memorable anecdotes of Chinese Chan derive from Mazu's so-called Hongzhou school (a name based on his residence in what is now Jiangxi province), which includes Zhaozhou Congshen (c. 778–897), Baizhang Huaihai (749–814), and Nanquan Puyuan (748–834). Virtually all accounts of Chinese Chan include references to Zhaozhou's negative response to the question of whether dogs have the buddha-nature (he replied, "No!"); Baizhang's supposed maxim, "A day without work is a day without food"; and Nanquan's outrageous killing of a cat as a challenge to other trainees. The most famous representative of this style of Chan was Linji Yixuan (d. 867; Jpn., Rinzai Gigen), whose recorded sayings contain memorable phrases such as "the true man of no rank" and shocking lines such as "if you meet the Buddha, kill him!"
There would appear, at first glance, to be a close correspondence between the "encounter dialogue" style of such Hongzhou-school figures and the religious doctrines of the school. Mazu's teachings are described as holding that "the arising of mental activity, the movement of thought, even snapping the fingers or moving the eyes—all actions and activities are the functioning of the entire essence of the buddha-nature." Thus Mazu and his students are supposed to have emphasized dynamic interaction using lively repartee, physical gestures, and even loud shouts and physical blows. The problem, however, is that such events—which are supposed to have taken place a few decades before or after the year 800—are not recorded in any written text until 952. This is the date of the very important Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (Zutang ji), which is the first text to contain any written transcription of oral Chan dialogue. Preserved only in Korea, this anthology established the basic pattern of all later "transmission of the lamp" texts by providing entries for the entire lineage from the seven Buddhas of the Past (i.e., from its ancient predecessors in India) to the present.
Although there are substantial materials concerning the Hongzhou school that date from its own time, none of these texts (nor any of the manuscripts from Dunhuang) contain transcriptions of encounter dialogue. It does appear that the lineages of Shitou and Mazu represented a new spirit of Chan that arose in the latter half of the eighth century in south-central China. However, it is also clear that the "traditional" image of Shitou, Mazu, and their immediate generations of disciples was not generated until the Song dynasty. The questions that confront scholars now are: When and how did encounter dialogue actually develop? What were the contemporaneous historical identities of Shitou, Mazu, and others?
The Song dynasty witnessed the Chan school's greatest efflorescence in China, and it was during this period that there emerged the school's mature configuration, not a fixed pattern but a dynamic interplay of elements, rather like the "climax paradigm" of complex biological systems. This success should be understood against the background of larger political and social changes that allowed Chan to flourish even as they set the stage for a fundamental transformation in Chinese Buddhism as a whole.
The Northern Song (960–1127) reestablished the centralized imperial state, and its rulers did their best to emulate their illustrious Tang-dynasty predecessors. However, the world had changed, and the Song court was forced to pay deference to the competing Liao (916–1125) and Jin (1115–1234) regimes. (The Song even paid material tribute to the Jin.) After the Jin conquest of north China, the Southern Song (1127–1279) was wracked by abortive social and political reforms and a never-ending debate about military action to retake the north. Although the Jin and the Southern Song collaborated to eliminate the Liao, they were swallowed up in turn by the Mongolian Yuan dynasty (1206–1368). Where earlier generations of scholars focused on the An Lushan rebellion of 755 to 763 as an important watershed in the transition from medieval aristocratic centralism to premodern regionalism, in recent years historians have begun to pay attention to the twelfth-century emergence of elites focused not on national political service but on building power and wealth for their respective clans in local and regional settings.
At the beginning of the Northern Song the Chan school found itself in a surprisingly dominant position. As a movement that only began to achieve national prominence in the eighth century and which remained subordinate throughout the Tang, by the end of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh the category of "Chan master" (or "meditation master") accounted for some three-quarters of the most prominent members of the saṃgha. One reason for this popularity was the effective collapse of the translation enterprise, which had been the primary focus of imperial support for Buddhism ever since the end of the fourth century. Although there was a flurry of effort in the late tenth century setting up the necessary government offices and collecting all the available Indic manuscripts, after a mere two decades of work (980–1000) there simply were no more texts arriving from the "western regions" for translation. In effect, the translation enterprise had ended at the beginning of the ninth century, and the brief period of Song activity was only an exceptional final gasp. The increasing prominence of Chan texts over this period, and especially their imperial recognition and circulation in woodblock editions, should be understood against this background.
From the beginning of the Song dynasty, Chan monks played a role very different from the rustic ideal associated with Huineng, Mazu, and other Tang figures: they served as abbots of some 90 percent of the largest monastic institutions ("monasteries of the ten directions," shifang conglin, often referred to as "public monasteries") in China, directing practice in meditation and functioning as fund-raisers for their temples. In previous scholarship this has been interpreted as evidence of the degeneration of Chan, but it now seems more reasonable to view this period as the high point of the school's efflorescence in China. Indeed, the romantic image of the Tang-dynasty sages is now understood to be a Song-dynasty creation, and the quest for "pure Chan" a function of Japanese sectarian interests.
Song-dynasty writers used various labels in reference to different lineage-based styles of Chan from the late Tang onward, and there are observable shifts in the relative vitality of different factions over time. Thus we read of the so-called five houses (wujia; Jpn., goke ), the Fayan, Guiyang, Yunmen, Caodong, and Linji lineages, which never coexisted except in written summaries of Chan teachings. The Caodong lineage was tenuous for a time and was always overshadowed by the Linji school, which itself spawned the Huanglong and Yangchi sublineages. Linji, or Rinzai, predominated among lineages transmitted to Japan from the end of the twelfth century onward, although one of the two Caodong, or Sōtō, lineages (that associated with Dōgen Kigen [1200–1253]) eventually became widespread there as well.
The most important Chan figure during the Song dynasty was Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163), who as abbot in successive appointments at some of the largest monasteries in China taught hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of students at a time. Dahui is known for an energetic and personal style, addressing much of his attention to literate laymen and accepting as his students nuns as well as monks. In fact, it was in teaching a nun, Miaodao (fl. c. 1134–1155), that he developed his most characteristic teaching style: the use of intense contemplation of the "critical phrase" (huatou) of what came to be called gongan.
Dahui had Miaodao consider a phrase attributed to Mazu: "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not a thing." In his instructions Dahui said, "You must not take it as a statement of truth. You must not take it to be something you do not need to do anything about. Do not take it as a flint-struck spark or a lightning flash. Do not try to divine the meaning of it. Do not try to figure it out from the context in which I brought it up. 'It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is not a thing; after all, what is it?'" Dahui thus prohibited all potentially rational approaches to solving the problem, and he rejected Miaodao's first attempts to demonstrate her understanding, sometimes with loud shouts. Eventually she understood, and from that point on Dahui began teaching all his students using the huatou method. Dahui was also an outspoken advocate of vigorous effort in meditation practice, and he railed publicly against contemporary Chan teachers of the Caodong lineage who taught "silent illumination" (mozhao). This was anathematic for Dahui whenever it was taken to mean merely sitting like dead wood, waiting for enlightenment to happen someday.
The extensive literature of the Song-dynasty Chan school may be approached in terms of several different genres. First, "recorded sayings" (yulu, also referred to as "discourse records"; Jpn., goroku) were published for individual Chan teachers, initially after their demise (as with the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind) but eventually during the masters' lifetimes and with their active collaboration. (There is a famous rant in the Record of Linji against students who take notes during sermons, transforming the teacher's "live words" into dead ones, but this injunction came to be ignored.)
Second, "transmission of the lamp" histories (chuandeng shi, or simply dengshi; Jpn., dentōshi or tōshi) are texts that organize information about Chan teachers and their teachings into generational hierarchies. The earliest texts of this genre appeared in the early eighth century; the best-known examples are the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall of 952 and the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp [compiled during the] Jingde [era] (Jingde chuandeng lu; Jpn., Keitoku dentōroku) of 1004. A handful of texts published in the twelfth to the thirteenth centuries effectively supplemented and extended the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp; that these texts were presented to the imperial court and officially included in the Buddhist canon indicates their status as public documents describing the lineage identities used in negotiating appointments as abbots to public monasteries.
Third, given the great proliferation of Chan anecdotes transcribed in the preceding genres, there developed shorter collections of favorite examples, known as "precedent anthologies" (gongan ji; Jpn., kōan shū). The most important of these are the Emerald Cliff Record (Biyan lu; Jpn., Hekigan roku), which contains several layers of teachers' commentaries on a hundred different anecdotes drawn primarily from the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp of 1004 compiled by Yuanwu Keqin (1063–1135) and the Gateless Barrier (Wumen guan; Jpn. Mumonkan) by Wumen Huikai (1183–1260; the title is a pun on his name). The latter text contains forty-eight anecdotes (some of them identical to those of the Emerald Cliff Record) presented with less structural complexity but perhaps greater religious eloquence.
Fourth, there is a wide variety of other Chan texts, including poems, essays, monastic regulations, and historical documents.
Later Imperial Chan
The founding emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) supported a revitalization of Chinese Buddhism (along with strict government control of the religion), promoting what were thought to be the most important scriptures and supporting basic forms of Buddhist education. In this context Chan masters wrote commentaries on scriptures such as the Heart Sūtra and Diamond Sūtra, explaining their doctrines using Chan rhetoric. Toward the end of the dynasty a number of prominent Chan teachers appeared who worked to "revive" the fortunes of the school, sometimes in combination with Pure Land devotional practices oriented to laypeople. In the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) members of the Huangbo lineage struggled to re-invent Chan, bypassing the Song synthesis and reaching back to Linji Yixuan. The Huangbo school figure Yinyuan Longqi (1592–1673; Jpn., Ingen Ryūki) and some of his followers emigrated to Japan in 1654, stimulating a reconfiguration of Zen there through his combined use of Pure Land practices.
This era includes a wide range of different phenomena. In the pre-1949 period there remained a small number of strong meditation centers at Chinese monasteries, many of them perpetuating Chan styles of practice, but the specifics of their religious identities are still unclear. Xuyun (1840–1959) is famous for having initiated himself into several long-defunct lineages, while the monk Zhang Shengyan (b. 1930) established centers for Chan meditation and Buddhist study in New York in self-conscious preparation for the extension of his teaching activities to Taiwan. Although there are numerous Chinese (as well as Korean and Vietnamese) teachers active in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and abroad who identify themselves as representing the Chan school and its teachings, many of whom adopt Chan-style rhetoric and meditation practices, they often adopt characteristics of Japanese Zen in the West.
The modern study of Chinese Chan Buddhism derives in large part from a group of research project undertaken in Kyoto, Japan, organized and supported by Ruth Fuller Sasaki (1893/1894–1967). Participants in this project included the Chan scholar Yanagida Seizan, the Chinese linguist Iriya Yoshitaka (1910–1998), Chan scholar Philip B. Yampolsky (1920–1996), translator Burton Watson, and the poet Gary Snyder. In addition to producing a translation of the recorded sayings of Linji Yixuan, translated by Ruth Fuller Sasaki as The Recorded Sayings of Ch'an Master Lin-chi Hui-chao of Chen Prefecture (Kyoto, 1975), this group transformed the study of Chinese Chan by reading its texts as colloquial Chinese, rather than through the formalized traditions of Japanese Zen.
Of this group it was Yanagida who made the most extensive and profound contributions to the study of Chinese Chan in the twentieth century. A summary of his major works is available in John R. McRae, "Yanagida Seizan's Landmark Works on Chinese Ch'an," Cahiers d'Extême-Asie 7 (1993–1994): 51–103. Otherwise, relatively little of Yanagida's research is available in English: see "The Development of the 'Recorded Sayings' Texts of the Chinese Ch'an School," in Whalen Lai and Lewis R. Lancaster, eds., Early Ch'an in China and Tibet (Berkeley, 1983), pp. 185–205; "The Li-tai fa-pao chi and the Ch'an Doctrine of Sudden Awakening," also in Lai and Lancaster, pp. 13–49; and "The Life of Lin-chi I-hsüan," Eastern Buddhist n.s. 5, no. 2 (1972): 70–94.
In English, the most influential contribution to study of Chinese Chan has been Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of the Tun-huang Manuscript with Translation, Introduction, and Notes (New York and London, 1967), which includes a masterful introduction outlining the development of both the myth of Huineng and the text bearing his name. Although Yampolsky's translation is the most widely used, Wing-Tsit Chan, The Platform Scripture (New York, 1963), is still worthy of reference for the Dunhuang version of the text, and John R. McRae, The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch (Berkeley, 2000), may be consulted for the Ming-dynasty edition.
For Bodhidharma, and for the development of Chan hagiography in general, an insightful treatment is Bernard Faure, "Bodhidharma as Textual and Religious Paradigm," History of Religions 25, no. 3 (1986): 187–198. For a translation of the treatise attributed to Bodhidharma, as well as the material appended to the master's words in Dunhuang manuscripts, see Jeffrey L. Broughton, The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Berkeley, 1999).
Studies of early Chinese Chan include John R. McRae, The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism (Honolulu, 1986), and Bernard Faure, The Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Genealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism (Stanford, Calif., 1997). While these two books focus on the Northern school, Faure's two volumes, The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism (Princeton, 1991) and Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (Princeton, 1993), include a far-ranging postmodernist inquiry into the overarching themes of Chinese Chan. Robert E. Buswell Jr., The Formation of Ch'an Ideology in China and Korea: The Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra, a Buddhist Apocryphon (Princeton, 1989), contains an intriguing hypothesis concerning the probable Korean authorship of a Chan-related text. Other important studies are found in R. M. Gimello and P. N. Gregory, eds., Studies in Ch'an and Hua-yen (Honolulu, 1983), and Peter N. Gregory, ed. Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought (Honolulu, 1987). A masterful summary of many of the issues of early and middle Chinese Chan is found in Peter N. Gregory, Tsung-mi and the Sinification of Buddhism (Princeton, 1991).
The most substantial source of information about Chinese Chan prior to the Song dynasty available in English is certainly Heinrich S. Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, vol. 1, India and China, translated by James W. Heisig and Paul Knitter (New York, 1989; rev. ed., 1994), although the romanticism that imbues Dumoulin's account is criticized severely in John R. McRae's Seeing through Zen: Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism (Berkeley, 2003), which both traces the overall evolution of Chinese Chan and works to change how readers think about the subject. Dumoulin's presentation is largely a synthesis of the semi-scholarly writings of D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) and the historical analysis of Hu Shih (1891–1962); the best source for the strikingly different positions of these two figures are Hu's "Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method," Philosophy East and West 3, no. 1 (1953): 3–24, and Suzuki's rejoinder, "Zen: A Reply to Hu Shih," pp. 25–46 of the same issue. Analytical critiques of these two scholars are available in Robert Sharf, "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism," in Donald S. Lopez Jr., ed., Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism (Chicago, 1995), pp. 107–160; and John R. McRae, "Religion as Revolution in Chinese Historiography: Hu Shih (1891–1962) on Shen-hui (684–758)," Cahiers d'Extême-Asie 12 (2001): 59–102. Although there is as yet no adequate single volume on middle-period Chan, Robert E. Buswell Jr., The Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul (Honolulu, 1983), and Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of Thiền uyển tập anh (Honolulu, 1997), both include important information concerning both Chinese Chan and its diffusion to Korea and Vietnam, respectively.
For later periods of Chan there is rather less available. One very influential article is T. Griffith Foulk, "Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Ch'an Buddhism," in Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Peter N. Gregory, eds., Religion and Society in T'ang and Sung China (Honolulu, 1993), pp. 147–208. An extensive study of the earliest text of Chinese monastic regulations, from 1103, is found in Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan qinggui (Honolulu, 2002). Dale S. Wright has contributed a trenchant guide to reading Chan texts in his Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism (Cambridge, UK, 1998). Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright have edited a valuable anthology, The Kōan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism (New York, 2000), several of the contributions to which provide the best recent scholarship on Chinese "encounter dialogue" and gongan introspection. A number of specialized articles are included in Peter N. Gregory and Daniel A. Getz Jr., eds., Buddhism in the Sung (Honolulu, 1999), including Miriam Levering's "Miao-tao and Her Teacher Ta-hui," pp. 188–219. Also see Miriam Levering, "Lin-chi Ch'an and Gender: The Rhetoric of Equality and the Rhetoric of Heroism," in José Ignazio Cabezón, ed., Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender (Albany, N.Y., 1992), pp. 137–156. For Ming-dynasty Chan consult Yü Chün-fang's The Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-hung and the Late Ming Synthesis (New York, 1981). For Chan in contemporary China, an anecdotal evocation is available in Empty Cloud: The Teachings of Xu Yun, a Remembrance of the Great Chinese Zen Master, by Jy Din Sakya as related to Chuan Yuan Shakya and Upasaka Richard Cheung (Albany, N.Y., 1992).
A large number of Chan texts are available in English translation, although not always in reliable form. One of the best is Urs App, Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Teacher "Gate of the Clouds" (New York, Tokyo, and London, 1994). The best treatment of the Song-dynasty development of Chan literature is Christian Wittern, Das Yulu des Chan-Buddhismus: Die Entwicklung vom 8.–11. Jahrhundert am Beispiel des 28, Kapitels des Jingde Chuandenglu (1004)– (Bern, Germany, and New York, 1998).
John R. McRae (2005)
"Chan." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chan
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