The Linji Lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: The Development of Chan's Records of Sayings Literature

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The Linji lu, or Record of Linji, ranks among the most famous and influential texts of the Chan and Zen traditions. Ostensibly containing the teachings of the Tang dynasty figure Linji Yixuan, the text has generally been accepted at face value, as reliable records of the teachings of this historical figure.

In this book, Albert Welter offers the first systematic study of the Linji lu in a western language. Welter places the Linji lu in its historical context, showing how the text was manipulated over time by the Linji faction. Rather than recording the teachings of the illustrious patriarch of legend, the text reflects the motivations of Linji-faction descendants in the Song dynasty (9601279). The story of the Linji lu is not simply the story of one heroic figure, Linji Yixuan, but the story of an entire movement that sought validation through retrospective image making. The success of this effort is seen in Chan's rise to prominence.

Drawing on the findings of Japanese scholars, Welter moves beyond the minutiae of textual analysis to place the development of Linji lu within the broader forces shaping the development of the Chinese Records of Sayings literary genre as a whole.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Albert Welter's groundbreaking study of the Linji lu provides a model of comprehensive and innovative historical research. Unlike earlier studies of the Zen master Linji, Welter focuses directly on this classic text, showing how both the text and the image of the Zen master in it developed in the course of Chan history. Linji wrote nothing, and in the two and a half centuries between the end of his life and the emergence of the Linji lu as we know it, the Chan tradition and the image of one of its most powerful masters went through several stages of significant change. Carefully placing Linji's text in its rapidly changing historical context, Welter's systematic study sheds new light on classical Chan literature and the emergence of this fascinating form of Buddhism." —Dale S. Wright, Occidental College, author of Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism

"This is an outstanding piece of scholarship that investigates in a convincing and compelling way a very important element in the development of Chinese Chan Buddhism, that is, the recorded sayings of master Linji —arguably one of the two or three most significant and widely read Chan sources — and the social historical context of how the text came to be created. In addition to providing a detailed textual analysis of the Linji lu in its different editions and redactions, Albert Welter show how this helps us understand the formation of Chan writings from the Song dynasty dealing with eminent Tang patriarchs." —Steven Heine, Florida International University, author of White Collar Zen

"The Linji lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy clearly succeeds in what it sets out to do: it accounts for the rise of Linji Chan and the yulu genre in the context of Song dynasty Buddhism, culture, and politics. I woudl recommend this book to any reader, specialist or nonspecialist, who appreciates fine-grained and closely ducmented historical analysis of the premodern Buddhist institution." —H-Net Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195329575
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Welter is a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Winnipeg. He is the author of Monks, Rulers, and Literati: The Political Ascendancy of Chan Buddhism

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