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The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts

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Overview

Bodhidharma, its first patriarch, reputedly said that Zen Buddhism represents "a special transmission outside the teaching / Without reliance on words and letters." This saying, along with the often perplexing use of language (and silence) by Zen masters, gave rise to the notion that Zen is a "lived religion," based strictly on nonlinguistic practice and lacking a substantial canon of sacred texts. Even those who recognize the importance of Zen texts commonly limit their focus to a few select texts without recognizing the wide variety of Zen literature. This collection of previously unpublished essays argues that Zen actually has a rich and varied literary heritage. Among the most significant textual genres are hagiographic accounts and recorded sayings of individual Zen masters, koan collections and commentaries, and rules for monastic life. During times of political turmoil in China and Japan, these texts were crucial to the survival and success of Zen, and they have for centuries been valued by practitioners as vital expressions of the truth of Zen. This volume offers learned yet accessible studies of some of the most important classical Zen texts, including some that have received little scholarly attention (and many of which are accessible only to specialists). Each essay provides historical, literary, and philosophical commentary on a particular text or genre. Together, they offer a critique of the "de facto canon" that has been created by the limited approach of Western scholarship, and demonstrate that literature is a diverse and essential part of Zen Buddhism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195150681
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Heine
Steven Heine is professor of religious studies and history and director of the Institute for Asian Studies at Florida International University.
Dale S. Wright is the David B. and Mary H. Gamble Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Occidental College.
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Contributors
Transliteration and Terminology
Introduction: Canon and Canonicity in the History of the Zen Literary Tradition 3
1 Tsung-mi's Zen Prolegomenon: Introduction to an Exemplary Zen Canon 11
2 Mazu yulu and the Creation of the Chan Records of Sayings 53
3 The Lidai fabao ji (Record of the Dharma-Jewel through the Ages) 81
4 The Huang-po Literature 107
5 Lineage and Context in the Patriarch's Hall Collection and the Transmission of the Lamp 137
6 The Record of Hongzhi and the Recorded Sayings Literature of Song-Dynasty Chan 181
7 The Wu-men kuan (J. Mumonkan): The Formation, Propagation, and Characteristics of a Classic Zen Koan Text 207
8 The Eihei koroku: The Record of Dogen's Later Period at Eihei-ji Temple 245
9 Chanyuan qinggui and Other "Rules of Purity" in Chinese Buddhism 275
Index 313
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