This book offers a provocative rereading of the early history of Chan Buddhism (Zen). Working from a history-of-religions point of view that asks how and why certain literary tropes were chosen to depict the essence of the Buddhist tradition to Chinese readers, this analysis focuses on the narrative logics of the early Chan genealogiesthe seventh-and eighth-century lineage texts that claimed that certain high-profile Chinese men were descendents of Bodhidharma and the Buddha. This book argues that early Chan's image of the perfect-master-who-owns-tradition was constructed for reasons that have little to do with Buddhist practice, new styles of enlightened wisdom, or "orthodoxy," and much more to do with politics, property, geography, and, of course, new forms of writing.
About the Author
Alan Cole is Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis & Clark College. He is the author of Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism and Text as Father: Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature (UC Press).
Table of Contents
Preface Acknowledgments 1. Healthy Skepticism, and a Field Theory for the Emergence of Chan Literature 2. The State of Enlightenment: The Empire of Truth in Zhiyi's Legacy and Xinxing's Sect of the Three Levels 3. Owning It: Shaolin Monastery's In-house Buddha 4. The Future of an Illusion: Du Fei Hijacks Shaolin's Truth-Fathers5. My Life as a Buddha: Jingjue's Version of the Truth-Fathers 6. Shenhui's “Stop Thief” Bid to Be the Seventh Son Conclusion: Assessing the Hole at the Beginning of It All Chinese Glossary References Index
What People are Saying About This
"A detailed study . . . Cole fills in important details about the Chan patriarch fabrication from the seventh and eighth century."Buddhadharma
"[Cole] offers an exciting way to examine early Chan Buddhist literature."Buddhist Studies Review