Yongming Yanshous Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu: A Special Transmission Within the Scriptures

By: Albert Welter

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Yongming Yanshou ranks among the great thinkers of the Chinese and East Asian Buddhist traditions, one whose legacy has endured for more than a thousand years. Albert Welter offers new insight into the significance of Yanshou and his major work, the Zongjing lu, by showing their critical role in the contested Buddhist and intellectual territories of the Five Dynasties and early Song dynasty China. Welter gives a comprehensive study of Yanshous life, showing how Yanshous Buddhist identity has been and continues to be disputed. He also provides an in-depth examination of the Zongjing lu, connecting it to Chan debates ongoing at the time of its writing. This analysis includes a discussion of the seminal meaning of the term zong as the implicit truth of Chan and Buddhist teaching, and a defining notion of Chan identity. Particularly significant is an analysis of the long underappreciated significance of the Chan fragments in the Zongjing lu, which constitute some of the earliest information about the teachings of Chans early masters. In light of Yanshous advocacy of a morally based Chan Buddhist practice, Welter also challenges the way Buddhism, particularly Chan, has frequently been criticized in Neo-Confucianism as amoral and unprincipled. Yongming Yanshous Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu concludes with an annotated translation of fascicle one of the Zongjing lu, the first translation of the work into a Western language.
Publication Date:
13 / 04 / 2011

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