Legends in Ch'an: the Northern/Southern Split, Hui-neng and the Platform Sutra Was there ever a verse-writing competition between Hui-neng and Shen-Hsiu? This crucial story, related in the Platform Sutra, is at the heart of the Northern/Southern school split and established Hui-neng as the Sixth Patriarch. My essay looks at the historical record. (Browse this page to find more about the Northern/Southern teachings and history)
Yasutani Hakuun Roshi - a biographical note. This is an excerpt from a M. A. thesis in Asian Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. Gives a brief outline of Yasutani Roshi, an important Japanese Zen teacher who promoted lay practice in Japan and America.
Whalen Lai Buddhism in China: a Historical Survey I think the title says it all.
Ch'an metaphors: Waves, water, mirror, lamp Lai looks at three key metaphors used in Zen and finds them in the Lankaavataara Suutra, the Awakening of Faith and the Platform Sutra. Excellent essay for those wondering where some key metaphors began. Ma-Tsu Tao-I And The Unfolding Of Southern Zen: here Lai looks at the influence of Ma-tsu in Zen and the dynamics of mind-to-mind Zen as perfected by this great master.
James Legge (transl.): A Record of Buddhistic KingdomsBeing an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline Translated and annotated with a Corean recension of the Chinese originally published by Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1886 Original Source
Miriam L. Levering: The Dragon Girl and the Abbess of Mo-Shan: Gender and Status in the Ch'an Buddhist Tradition
Levering looks at the attitude towards women in the Ch'an (and Zen) tradition. While some thought women incapable of full enlightenment, masters such as Ta-hui Tsung-kao and Dogen disagreed with this assertion. from The Journal Of The International Association Of Buddhist Studies, Vol 5, No. 1, 1982
Michael P Levine: Can the Concept of Enlightenment Evolve? "...examines whether all evolution of the concept of enlightenment is best seen as interpretive variation rather than as embodying real notional change...It is implausible to suppose that... enlightenment has not evolved". Levine also argues that as literal interpretations of the Bible are incorrect, likewise a similar interpretation of Buddhist scriptures. from Asian Philosophy, Vol 13, Nos.2/3, 2001 pp115-129
Charles Luk (Upasaka Lu K'uan): This is Luk's translation of the Hsin Hsin Ming - Have Faith in Your Mind, a gatha written by of Seng T'san, Third Chan Patriarch of China. For a full discussion on this important text, see this site . Includes translations by Prof. Dusan Pajin, Daisetsu Teitarõ Suzuki and Richard B. Clark
John Maraldo: Is There Historical Consciousness Within Chan? Much of Ch'an history was written for reasons other than historical accuracy. Maraldo looks at some interpretations of modern historians of Ch'an and believes we should "identify the interests of the contemporary historian before seeking a direct answer [about historicity] in the sources being studied." Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 12/2-3
John McRae: The Antecedents of Encounter Dialogue in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism McRae looks at where and how the dialogues between Zen master and student began. These dialogues often ended up being koans. Very interesting essay. See also book review: Seeing through Zen
McRae has also written an interesting Introduction to Vol. 1 of Heinrich Dumoulin's Zen History. Well worth reading.
Charles Muller: East Asian Apocryphal Scriptures: Their Origin and Role in the Development of Sinitic Buddhism Muller looks at apocryphal texts and their role in the development of Chinese Buddhism.
Michel Mohr: Japanese Zen Schools and the Transition to Meiji: A Plurality of Responses in the Nineteenth Century This article scrutinizes the lives of specific figures affiliated with the three main Zen traditions; it presents firsthand information on their activities from the end of the Tokugawa period through the first decades of the Meiji era.
Elizabeth Morrison: The Logic and Limits of the Genealogical Model for Chan History Morrison gives an overview of the historical writings of the Northern Song Chan monk Mingjiao Qisong (1007-1072) with the aim of analyzing the use of lineage as a device for organizing historical information and examining some of the assumptions implicit in Chan historiography. An interesting essay on the development of early Chan lineage writings.
Biswadeb Mukherjee: The Riddle of the First Buddhist Council - A Retrospection A highly academic article about "The historic nature of the Cullavagga XI account, specially the episode of chanting the dhamma and vinaya, [which] has been denied either because of the silence of the MPS about the chanting, or due to the internal contradictions supposed to be existing between the different episodes narrated in the Cullavagga XI. " from: Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, No.7, pp.449~473(1994)
Eshin Nishimura: Practical Principle Of Hakuin Zen Examined in the Text By His Disciple Tourei-Enji : the title says it all.
Gudo Nishijima: Japanese Buddhism and the Meiji Restoration: Nishijima discusses the effects of the Meiji Restoration on Japanese Buddhism. Includes Nishijima's introduction to Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika, which Nishijima claims is "identical to the theories of Dogen".
Kang-nam Oh: The Taoist Influence on Hua-yen Buddhism: A Case of the Sinicization of Buddhism in China . "The religio-philosophical system presented by the Hua-yen Buddhist school of China was characteristically "Chinese" in the sense that it was not merely extensions of Indian Buddhist ideas but the reinterpretations and restatements of Buddhist thought within distinctively Chinese modes of thought and expression. Hua-yen, in this sense, was a "sinicized" Buddhism. The paper argues that the Taoist philosophy was one, possibly the most important, influence on this process. The paper tries to prove this by exploring specifically four major Hua-yen concepts derived from the Taoist tradition: hsuan (mystery), "returning to the source," t'i-yung (essence and function), and li-shih (noumenon and phenomenon)." from Chung-Haw Buddhist Journal No.13.2 (May 2000)
Mario Poceski: Attitudes Towards Canonicity and Religious Authority in Tang Chan Poceski explores the use of standard Buddhist scriptures in early Chan which enabled Chan to take a central role in Chinese Buddhism. Poceski refutes the standard interpretation of Chan as being "outside the scriptures". Very interesting essay.
Gary L. Ray: The Northern Ch'an School And Sudden Versus Gradual Enlightenment Debates In China And Tibet Ray trawls over the sudden/gradual debate and the famous debate in Tibet which resulted in Indian, as opposed to Chinese, Buddhism dominating. Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley
Tansen Sen: In Search of Longevity and Good Karma: Chinese Diplomatic Missions to Middle India in the Seventh Century Sen looks at some important Tang Dynasty missions to India, including the famous Xuanzang (Hsuan Tseng) 19-year mission.
from Journal of World History, Vol 12 No. 1
Robert H. Sharf: The Zen of Japanese Nationalism Sharf asks, "How was it that the West came to conceive of Zen in terms of a transcendent or "unmediated" personal experience? And why are Western[ers] so eager to embrace this distortion in the face of extensive historical and ethnographic evidence to the contrary?" A highly critical study of D. T. Suzuki and the transmission of Japanese Zen to the West. An important essay all Zen students should read. source: History of Religions
book review, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution
Sharf: Sanbõkyõdan Zen and the Way of the New Religions
Sharf: Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited
Sharf: Sanbõkyõdan: Zen and the Way of the New Religions
Sharf: Mind and Mindlessness in Early Chan
Morten Schlütter: Transmission and Enlightenment in Chan Buddhism Seen Through the Platform Sūtra (Liuzu tanjing 六祖壇經)Tthis paper discusses developments in the conceptualization of transmission and enlightenment in the Platform Sutra's main line of development, beginning with the earliest version found at Dunhuang leading down to the orthodox version included in the Taishō canon. source: Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, no. 20, pp. 379～410 (2007)
Hu Shih: Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China
Hu reveals how Ch'an developed from a simple Buddhist religion to an iconoclastic sect. He explains the role of Shen-hui in making Hui-neng the sixth patriarch and discusses why some Ch'an rhetoric seems "illogical" and unfathomable. Very interesting essay from early Ch'an studies which laid a strong foundation for scholars who followed. This began a famous debate about the role of Zen history between Hu and D. T. Suzuki. from Philosophy East and West, Vol.. 3, No. 1, January, 1953
Ishii Shūdō & Albert Welter look at the formation and history of Mumonkan (Wu-men kuan) koan collection. The Wu-men kuan (J. Mumonkan) The Formation, Propagation, and Characteristics of a Classic Zen Kōan Text is an excellent essay for those interested in the history of this text.
Ven. Sheng-yen: The Platform Saatra of the Sixth Patriarch translated by Yu Chun-fang from: Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal no.5 July 1992 Chung-Hwa Insitute of Buddhist Studies . Sheng-yen offers an analysis of this seminal text “synthesizing the key points”. This translation is a little patchy.
see also Philip Yampolsky's translation of the Tun-hung text of the Platform Sutra
see also Wong Mou-Lam's translation (1929), updated 1952 by Christmas Humphreys
Koichi Shinohara The Kasaya Robe of the Past Buddha Kasyapa in the Miraculous Instruction Given to the Vinaya Master Daoxuan (596-667) Shinohara examines the passages on the robe Kaa`syapa Buddha handed over to `Saakyamuni in Daoxuan's visionary experience as written up in the Daoxuan lushi gantonglu and the Zhong Tianzhu Sheweiguo Zhihuansi tujing and discusses the soteriological discourses on the robe. He concludes with comments on the possible significance of this discussion in the light of the prominent role that the account of the transmission of Bodhidharma's robe played in early Chan. from Chung-Haw Buddhist Journal
No.13.2 (May 2000)
D. T. Suzuki: The First Buddhist Council. Suzuki summarised a variety of Chinese sources regarding the First Buddhist Council to give "some insight into the nature of the First Convocation as well as into the attitude assumed towards it by different schools of Buddhism." from The Monist, Volume XIV, 1904
Charles W Swain: The Emergence of Ch'an Buddhism: a revisionist perspective "The purpose of this essay is to examine the emergence of Ch'an Buddhism as a separate and distinct sect in China . The argument is NOT that the traditions concerning this emergence are unreliable, but rather that attention to the historical context of their compilation may help to explain some of the distinctive features of Ch'an as a sect of Chinese Buddhism. I will attempt to distinguish the Ch'an traditions from the emergence of Ch'an as a separtate sect of Chinese Buddhism. It may be that some features of the traditional history of the Ch'an sect are a reconstruction, after the fact, for apologetic purposes." A rather simplistic outline of Ch'an history. from: Chung- Hwa Buddhist Journal vol.2/Oct, 1988 P.391-399
Paul Swanson: Ch'an and Chih-Kkuan: T'ien-T'ai Chi-i's View of "Zen" and the Practice of the Lotus Sutra . Swanson gives a nice thumbnail sketch of Bodhidharma's contemporary, Chi-i's method of Buddhist practice which sought a balance between zazen and contemplation leading to realization. Why They Say Zen Is Not Buddhism: Recent Japanese Critiques of Buddha-Nature. This is Part One of a series of essays The What and Why of Critical Buddhism.
John M. Thompson: Particular and Universal: Problems posed by Shaku Soen's "Zen" Thompson looks at a significant but largely neglected Zen teacher. Soen was instrumental in introducing Zen to America at World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and was a teacher of DT Suzuki. Thompson explores Soen's 'mystical' side. Worth reading if you are interested in early Western Zen.
Jian Tao: The Role of History in Chan/Zen Enlightenment Tao discusses the tension between understanding Zen through an historicial interpretation and Zen as ahistorical essentialism. Tao uses Dale Wright's book Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism as a guide through which the discussion takes place. from: Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy December 2004, Vol. IV, No. 1
The Disputed Place Of "A Special Transmission" Outside The Scriptures in Ch'an. “The purpose of the present investigation is to inquire into the origins of these slogans and the way they came to represent the Ch'an tradition of Bodhidharma, highlighting the disputed position of Ch'an as ’A special transmission outside the scriptures’ in Sung discourse.”
The Textual History of the Linji lu (Record of Linji): The Earliest Recorded Fragments "The story of the Linji lu is not the story of one man, Linji Yixuan. It is the story of a movement. The success of this movement contains the story of the success of Chan. In brief, my research on the Linji lu will not be set against the background of Linji the man and the style of Zen he represented, but will look at the Linji lu in light of the success of Chan." An interesting essay on a great master's legacy.
The Formation of the Linji lu: An Examination of the Guangdeng lu/Sijia yulu and Linji Huizhao Chanshi yulu Versions of the Linji lu in Historical Context Welter looks at the origins of the Linji lu and outlines how this text and the master became one of Chan's illustrious champions.
The problem with orthodoxy in Zen Buddhism: Yongming Yanshou’s notion of zong in the Zongjin lu (Records of the Source Mirror) Welter questions who/what determines what Zen is. "The study suggests how the definition of contemporary Zen orthodoxy has been dominated by representatives from the “rhetorical ” Zen tradition, creating a disjuncture between our intellectual understanding of Zen and the principles guiding its actual practice." Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuse Vol 31, 1, 2002
John C. H. Wu: Zen: its origin and its significance. This is the first chapter of John Wu's The Golden Age of Zen: Zen Masters of the T'ang Dynasty. original source: www.worldwisdom.com
Dale S Wright:
Emancipation from what? The concept of freedom in classical Ch'an Buddhism Wright "attempts to articulate an understanding of the goal of ‘freedom' in classical Ch'an Buddhism by setting concerns for 'liberation' in relation to the kinds of authority and regulated structure characteristic of Sung dynasty Ch'an monasteries" and "examines classical Ch'an rhetoric and practices in an effort to reconceive what ‘freedom' might have meant in this context and concludes with a proposal for this reconception." from Asian Philosophy, Vol 3 No.2 1993
Rethinking Transcendence: The Role of Language in Zen Experience Wright questions whether enlightenment "stands altogether beyond the shaping power of language and culture". He also looks at the role language played in the origins and development of the monsastic community, a community that made the Zen experience of awakening possible. Very interesting essay for those that see the Zen experience "not dependent on language and texts". Is that true? from Philosophy East and West, vol 42, no 1, January 1992
Historical Understanding: The Ch'an Buddhist Transmission Narratives and Modern Historiography Wright discusses the differences between classical Ch'an's interest in hisory and compares it with modern historical practices. Wright finds that early Ch'an historians considered themselves participants rather than merely recorders of their history. from History & Theory,Vol 31, Issue 1, pp.37-46, 1992
The Hunag-po Literature: Wright analyzes the two major collections of Huang-po's teachings from a historical, literary and philosophical perspectiave and summarizes the teachings. An excellent study! from The Zen Cannon (2004) OUP
Robert B.Zeuschner: The understanding of mind in the Northern line of Ch'an (Zen) Zeuschner explores how early Ch'an of the so-called ‘Northern School' understood the nature of “pure mind” and “defiled mind”. An interesting essay from: Philosophy East and West V. 28, No. 1,1978