Creating the World of Chan/Son/Zen:

Chinese Chan Buddhism and it’s spread throughout East Asia

2018 Conference
MARCH 28-31

Zen enthralled the scholarly world throughout much of the 20th century, and Zen Studies became a major academic discipline in its wake. Toward the end of the 20th century, some of the biases inherent in Zen Studies began to be exposed, and the parameters of the field shifted markedly into new directions. UA East Asian Studies wlecomes you to this 4-day conference as we explore the future of Chan/Son/Zen Studies.


Abbot Guangquan

5:30 – 7:30

Center for Buddhist Studies
Inaugural Khyentse Foundation Lecture (reception following)

Is Zen Enlightenment Sudden or Gradual?: Insightes from the Korean Buddhist Tradition
Robert Buswell

5:00 – 6:30

Khyentse Foundation
Buddhsit Studies Lecture


Panel 1 - Foundations of Chan/Sŏn/Zen Buddhism: Geographical, Intellectual & Theoretical Considerations

Language and the Spread of Chan Buddhism
John Jorgensen (Retired Senior Lecturer of Griffith University, Australia)
The semi-colloquial nature of Chan language meant that for Chan to be spread beyond China proper Chan language had to be learnt or translated. To the west it was translated into Tibetan, Uighur, and Tangut. To the east and south Chan language was learnt and used by Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Bai. These East Asian states required their elites, including monks, to be literate in Chinese, and more than just literary Chinese. Beyond that, because of the numerous literary allusions in Chan literature, the students and translators had to be versed in Chinese culture and the Chinese Buddhist texts and issues for Chan to be assimilated in the long term. To the west, Chinese culture and consequently Chan did not take root; to the east Chinese culture was adopted and Chan took root; but this assimilation was limited in the south.

The Chan Buddhist/Confucian Matrix: Chan Monks as Buddhist Junzi, Confucian Junzi as Chan Monks
Albert Welter (University of Arizona)
The formation of classical Chan during the 10th to 13th centuries coincided with the development of Neo-Confucianism. While there has been a growing recognition of correspondences between Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism, especially Chan, there has yet to be an extensive analysis of how their rise is interconnected. I explore the shared matrix that generated both. Following Zhu Xi orthodoxy rooted in Han Yu, Neo-Confucianism is often regarded as stridently anti-Buddhist and anti-Chan. While anti-Buddhist sentiment is certainly a factor in Neo-Confucianism, it is also clear that many Neo-Confucians were attracted to Buddhism, especially Chan, and found inspiration in its teachings and methods. Rather than presume the as-sumptions of a later, rather one-sided orthodoxy, the embedded nature of Chan and Neo-Confucianism engendered a com-mon matrix of ideas and methodologies, and shared perspectives on such things as practices, teaching methods, and literary styles. Among the topics explored are the influences of yulu as records of sayings of great masters and teachers, and the exegetical revolution that saw increasing concision and brevity in the delivery of teachings and interpretations. In spite of a rhetorical positioning of independence from words and letters, the literary prowess of elite Chan masters put them on a par with Confucian elites, forming what may be called a Buddhist junzi, complementary to their Confucian counterparts.

An Intellectual History of Kōan: An Initial Study
Shūdō Ishii 石井修道 (Professor Emeritus of Komazawa University, Tokyo)
Chinese Chan is said to begin from Mazu Daoyi. Moreover, the Linji lineage was established in his wake, leading to the great consensus of Dahui Zonggao’s kanhua Chan in the Song dynasty that formed the decisive character of Chan. Recent research into the history of Mazu’s order and it’s written records have advanced dramatically. With regard to the positioning of Xitang Zhizang and Baizhang Huihai, the results of this research make clear that Baizhang Huihai was not initially regarded highly. I will take up the kōan “Mazu’s White and Black,” and following the results of recent research, try to study the intellectual history of the kōan and show how the interpretation that Baizhang was superior to Xitang came into being.

Panel 2 - Song Dynasty Chan and its Influences

The Lute, Lyric Poetry, and Literary Arts in Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen Buddhism
George Keyworth (University of Saskatchewan)
Despite censure of his “scholastic” Chan (wenzi Chan 文字禪), influential friends, and devotion to literary arts by many Chan/Seon/Zen masters, Juefan Huihong’s 覺範惠洪 (1071-1128) influence upon the connections between Zen Buddhism and literary arts cannot be overlooked. I examine how Huihong’s writings influenced the teachings of an intriguing Caodong (Sōtōshū) Chinese monk who traveled to Japan: Xinyue Xingchou 心越興儔 (Shin’etsu Kōchū, 1639 -1696). I explore how Xinyue famously [re]kindled an interest in the Chinese lute among Tokugawa Mito 水戸 elite, a newfound appreciation for Chan studies of Chinese poetry using Huihong’s two shihua 詩話, and wooden characters at temples in eastern Japan. Finally, I ask if we can see Zen and the literary arts as promoted by Huihong and Xinyue as partly responsible for reestablishing strict Zen training in China and Japan during the eighteenth-century.

Challenges to Conceptions of Song Dynasty Wenzi Chan
Jason Protass (Brown University)
In this essay, I establish that there was not a wenzi chan (“literary Chan”) movement during the Song dynasty. Today, wenzi chan is used erroneously to refer to the pursuit of literary arts as a path to awakening. I show that Huihong, the putative founder of wenzi chan, was no proponent of any such practice. Instead, Huihong and others in the Song used wenzi chan as a term of disparagement to refer to poetry saturated with worldly attachments. Centuries later, in the Ming dynasty, the term was valorized and early modern Chinese scholarship also perpetuated this view. Monastic liter-ary arts in the Song were ubiquitous, but were portrayed either as violations of monastic precepts that yielded art, or as doggerel without literary merit that could serve as expedient means to awakening. The unity of literary arts and the religious path is an anachronism to Song dynasty Chan.

Chan Isn’t Just Meditation: The Harmony of Meditative practice and Buddhist Teachings in the Zhizheng zhuan 智證傳
Yi-hsun Huang黃繹勳 (Fo Guang University, Taiwan)
This paper plans to analyze the content and influence of Zhizheng zhuan 智證傳, a Song Chan text compiled by the Chan monk Huihong Juefan 惠洪覺範 (1071–1128) in 1122. This text has been neglected in Japanese scholarship and does not play an important role in Japanese Zen. However, the Zhizheng zhuan is cited frequently in later Chan texts. In the Zhizheng zhuan, Huihong selected 109 passages from Buddhist sutras and sastras, as well as works by Chinese Buddhist masters and commented on them. Notably, Huihong chose more than 10 passages from Yongming Yanshou’s 永明延壽 (904-975) Zongjing lu 宗鏡錄. The Zhizheng zhuan demonstrates a perfect example of the harmony of Chan and Bud-dhist teachings in the 12th century. Furthermore, famous late Ming Chan monk Hanyue Fazang 漢月法藏 (1573–1635) wrote a commentary on the Zhizheng zhuan which he later used to attract and convert Confucian literati. Based on my recent research, although the harmony of Chan and Buddhist teachings is definitely not a tradition that would be appre-ciated by the Japanese Zen, it represents an important characteristic of Chan and serves as a crucial bridge between clerics and lay followers in Chinese society.

Panel 3 - Chinese Chan Dynamics

Bringing the past alive: the reinvention of textual ideals in seventeenth-century Chinese Chan Communities
Jiang Wu (University of Arizona)
This essay offers a new interpretation about the origins of the revived Chan Buddhist tradition in the seventeenth century. Very often, such a revival was contributed to social-economic factors or the charismatic characters of religious leaders. Little attention has been paid to the role of religious texts in a given Chan community. Focusing on a prominent Linji Chan community in Wanfu monastery in Fuqing, China and its counterpart Manpukuji in Kyo-to, Japan where the Chan leader Yinyuan Longqi (1592-1673) and his followers controlled, I will examine how tex-tual ideals in ancient Chan texts were revived through reading, writing, and performing, thus giving rise to various kinds of “textual communities” in which Chan practitioners shared similar interpretative strategies.

How a Chan Buddhist copes with the method of hetū-vidyā? – A case study of Miyun Yuanwu (1566-1642) in the debate on the Thesis on No-Motion of Things
Chen-kuo Lin林鎮國 (National Chengchi University, Taiwan)
At the turn of the late 16th and the early 17th centuries Zhencheng (鎮澄1546-1617), a scholar-monk affiliated with the Huayan School, published the Logical Investigation of the Thesis of No-Motion of Things (wu buqien zhengliang lun物不遷正量論) to challenge Seng Zhao (僧肇384-414)’s Thesis on No-Motion of Things (wu buqien lun 物不遷論), a seminal philosophical treatise that had been highly recognized as the doctrinal foundation of Chinese Bud-dhism. Through employing the syllogistic method of hetū-vidyā, Zhencheng accused Seng Zhao for perpetuating the Hīnayānic realist ontology that squarely contradicts the Mahāyāna position. Without any surprise, Zhencheng’s provocative critique sparked wide controversy in the late Ming Buddhist circles. In this paper, I will examine the response from the side of Chan, especially from Miyun Yuanwu (密雲圓悟1566-1642), to see how the Chan Bud-dhists adopted the method of Buddhist syllogism in the polemical context. The hermeneutical impact of hetū-vidyā on the Chan discourse in the late Ming period will be highlighted.

The Influence of Song Chan Buddhism in the Late Ming Dynasty
Chao-heng Liao 廖肇亨 (The Institute of History and Philology Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
The Song Chan monk Huihong Juefan 惠洪覺範 (1071–1128) is well-known as the creator of “literary Chan” (wenzi chan 文字禪). This paper analyzes the resurgence of interest in Huihong during the late Ming dynasty. Ming Chan monks such as Zibo Zhenke 紫柏真可 (1543–1603) and Hanyue Fazang 漢月法藏 (1573– 1635) praised Huihong’s works, and utilized them as source material for their own writings. The renewed in-terest in Huihong’s literary Chan also caused the dispute between Miyun Yuanwu 密雲圓悟 (1566–1642) and his disciple Hanyue Fazang. This dispute lasted for over one hundred years and finally was terminated through the intervention of Emperor Yongzheng 雍正 (1678–1735) during the Qing dynasty. This dispute did not re-ceive much attention in Japanese Zen and therefore is a valuable source for identifying the hermeneutics of Chan and the criteria for enlightenment among Chan masters in China. Finally, this paper illustrates the influ-ence of the Chinese literary tradition on Chan during the Song and Ming dynasties.

Panel 4 - Transmissions to Korea & Japan and Beyond

The Transmission of the Platform Sūtra to Korea and Japan
Morten Schlütter (University of Iowa)
The Platform Sūtra is a signature text of Chinese Chan Buddhism that dates back to the eighth century, but that continued to develop over the following 500 years and today is extant in several different versions. The Platform Sūtra was transmitted to both Korea and Japan a number of times through its history; however, it was received very differently in Korean Seon and Japanese Zen, and several aspects of the transmissions of the text have not been well understood. This paper will deal with the complex history of the transmission of several different ver-sions of the Platform Sūtra to Korea and Japan, and try to understand why the Platform Sūtra was embraced so enthusiastically in Korea but ultimately rejected in Japan.

The Origins of the Public Chan or Sŏn Monastery in Korea: The Monk Tamjin and his Impact on Sŏn Buddhism
Juhn Ahn (University of Michigan)
When and how did the public Chan monastery as an institution make its appearance in Korea? This paper will try to show that the earliest attempt to import this institution from Song China was made in the late eleventh centu-ry by the Korean monk Tamjin. As part of an official Korean embassy, Tamjin visited the grand public monastery (shifangcha) Jingyin chansi in 1077 and returned to Korea with what appears to be a copy of a Chan monastic code (qinggui). What else he brought back from his sojourn in China is unclear, but a closer look at the activities of his disciples and their disciples reveals that he may have also returned with forms of Chan learning that flour-ished during the Northern Song. How this impacted Sŏn learning in Korea will be discussed in this paper.

Yuanwu Keqin’s Chinese Chan Influence on the Formation of Japanese Zen
Steven Heine (Florida International University)
This paper examines issues of textuality in relation to mythology regarding one of the most impactful Chinese Chan masters of the Song dynasty, Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 (1063-1135; J. Engo Kokugon), primarily known as the main author of the Blue Cliff Record 碧巖錄 (Biyanlu, J. Hekinganroku) collection of one hundred gongan (J. kōan) cases. This text was a sensation when it reached Japan in the early 1300s and became the source of com-mentaries throughout the medieval period. However, the question of how it was first brought over is shrouded in mystery involving the legend of Dōgen’s (1200-1253) copy from 1227 referred to as the “One Night Blue Cliff Rec-ord.” Compounding mythological questions is another enigmatic document known as “Floating Yuanwu” (Nagare Engo), a succession statement given to his main disciple Huqiu Shaolong (1077-1136) that was placed in a pau-lownia canister and drifted ashore on Kyushu.

Panel 5 - Modern Transformations of Chan/Sŏn/Zen

Taixu’s 1945 Periodization of the Chan tradition
Eric Goodell (Fo Guang University, Taiwan)
In 1945, modern Buddhist monk Taixu (1890–1947) wrote a short history of Chinese Buddhism constructed around the theme of “chan,” a term which includes meditation as well as the Chan tradition. Chapter two of that work periodizes the Chan tradition in a way not found in the works of any Japanese Zen scholar: (1) Chan (dhyāna) as mental cultivation in accordance with scriptural teachings 依教修心禪, (2) Chan as the attainment of Buddhahood through insight into the nature of mind 悟心成佛禪, (3) Chan of the patriarchs which supersedes the Buddha 超佛祖師禪, (4) Chan of the lamp traditions which supersedes the patriarchs 越祖分燈禪, (5) Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Chan 宋元明清禪. The final period includes various subthemes including commenting on gongan (Jpn. kōan) literature, contemplating the huatou, the composition of discourse records, Chan-Pure land integration, lay involvement, and interaction with Taoism and Confucianism. The first four sections cover developments up to the 10th century. The final section covers develop-ments after that period, recognizing the importance of traditions that survived the late Tang persecution and literary activities in the 10th–13th centuries. The present paper analyzes Taixu’s periodization, identifying the factors that im-pelled him to create this work and its apologetical function, and discussing its reception and relevance to Chan studies .

The Struggle of Chogyejong to Define its Identity as a Meditative School in Contemporary Korea
Bernard Senécal (Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea)
The Chogyejong remains the most powerful Buddhist order in Korea. Nevertheless, confronted with both Buddhist and non-Buddhist competition, both on the national and the international stage, it is struggling to define its identity and retain its supremacy. On the one hand, it claims to be exceptionally faithful to the supposedly bibliophobe and icono-clastic practice of Kanhwasŏn as taught by Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163). On the other hand, it remains deeply attached to the teachings of Pojo Chinul (1158-1210) who, albeit recognizing the value of Dahui’s keyword meditation, remained an outstanding scholiast until the end of his life. Even though these two tendencies are not necessarily incompatible, Teong Sŏngch’ŏl (1912-1993), the most towering figure of Korean Buddhism in the 20th century, has radically contrast-ed them with one another, thus giving rise to the contemporary sudden/gradual debate. The hermeneutics proposed by Sŏngch’ŏl to reform Korean Buddhism after the Liberation have been deeply influenced by modern Japanese Bud-dhist scholarship. This fact singularly adds to the complexity of Chogyejong’s identity quest. This paper will introduce the historical events which led to this crisis and to the diverse attempts being made to move beyond it.

Rethinking T’oeong Sŏngch’ŏl’s Vision of Sŏn Buddhism and its Relation to Chinese Chan Buddhism
Jin Y. Park (American University)
This paper examines issues of textuality in relation to mythology regarding one of the most impactful Chinese Chan masters of the Song dynasty, Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 (1063-1135; J. Engo Kokugon), primarily known as the main author of the Blue Cliff Record 碧巖錄 (Biyanlu, J. Hekinganroku) collection of one hundred gongan (J. kōan) cases. This text was a sensation when it reached Japan in the early 1300s and became the source of com-mentaries throughout the medieval period. However, the question of how it was first brought over is shrouded in mystery involving the legend of Dōgen’s (1200-1253) copy from 1227 referred to as the “One Night Blue Cliff Rec-ord.” Compounding mythological questions is another enigmatic document known as “Floating Yuanwu” (Nagare Engo), a succession statement given to his main disciple Huqiu Shaolong (1077-1136) that was placed in a pau-lownia canister and drifted ashore on Kyushu.

The Use of the Huatou as the Fulfilment of Doctrine
Jimmy Yu (Florida State University)
Chan Buddhism’s self-representation as a “separate transmission outside doctrinal learning” (jiaowai bie zhuan 教外别傳) that “does not fall into [gradual] stages” (buluo jieji 不落階級) to practice and awakening is widely accepted by its apologists and early scholars as its defining axiom in both premodern and modern times. This axiom is central to the development of gong’an (公案) or huatou (話頭) as unique methods to awakening. In both premodern Chan texts and earlier modern scholarly writings, the gong’an and huatou methods are often presented as meaningless, illogical para-doxes aim to frustrate and short-circuit the rational mind in order to cut through discursive thinking and bring about awakening. Recent scholarship, however, focusing primarily on ritual, historical, and literary methods, has challenged these characterizations and argued that premodern Chan Buddhism as an institution was integral to the Chinese Bud-dhist monastic norms, inseparable to the historical development of Chinese monasticism in general. One scholar even contends that gong’an should be appreciated as a form of exegesis. Yet, little attention has been paid to how Chan meth-ods such as gong’an and huatou were firmly grounded in Buddhist doctrine. In this paper, I discuss Chan master Sheng Yen’s (1930-2009) usage of the huatou method within the context of his doctrinal formulation, as the experiential fulfil-ment of the Buddhist soteriology. To him, Chan cannot be separated from the centuries of doctrinal development. Di-vorced from doctrine, Chan would lead practitioners astray to non-Buddhist paths. There should be, as he states, “a unifi-cation of Chan and the teachings” (chan jiao heyi 禪教合一). It is “from Chan stems doctrine” (cong chan chujiao 從禪出

Chan Influence on Japanese Buddhist Progressives of Late Meiji
James Mark Shields (Bucknell University)
In addition to the birth and development of “Imperial Way Zen,” late Meiji Japan witnessed the emergence of a number of young lay Buddhist scholars, priests and activists who attempted to reframe Buddhism along progressive and occa-sionally radical political lines. While it is true that groups such as the New Buddhist Fellowship (Shin Bukkyō Dōshikai, 1899–1915) were made up mainly of young men associated with the two branches of the Shin sect, several of its mem-bers did affiliate themselves with Zen, such as Suzuki Daisetsu (1870–1966) and Inoue Shūten (1880–1945). While the former’s work has been roundly appraised (and recently subject to criticism), the latter, an avowed pacifist and interna-tionalist, has been relatively understudied in both Japanese and Western scholarship. A more radical contemporary fig-ure, Sōtō sect priest Uchiyama Gudō (1874–1911), has received more attention, due in no small part to his being execut-ed as one of the 24 conspirators of the High Treason Incident of 1910–11. This paper will examine the ideas of Inoue and Uchiyama, focusing on their use of Chan and Zen precedents to justify and explain their progressive positions.