The Power of Patriarchs

Qisong and Lineage in Chinese Buddhism


The Chan monk Qisong (1007-1072), an important figure in Northern Song religious and intellectual history, has garnered relatively little scholarly attention. This book provides a detailed biography with a focus on the influential historical writings he composed to defend Chan claims of a "mind-to-mind transmission" tracing back to the historical Buddha. It places his defense of lineage in the context not only of attacks by the rival Tiantai school but also of the larger backdrop of the development of lineage and patriarchs as sources of authority in Chinese Buddhism. It advances new arguments about these Chinese Buddhist innovations, challenges common assumptions about Chan masters, and offers insights into the interactions of Buddhists, Confucians, and the imperial court during the Song.

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Elizabeth Morrison, Ph.D. (2004) in Religious Studies, Stanford University, is Assistant Professor of Religion at Middlebury College.
"This book is a useful addition to the growing body of scholarship on Song dynasty Buddhism, providing the first
full-length study of the renowned Chan ideologue, Mingjiao Qisong (1007-72). (...) her focus on Qisong’s works in particular advances our understanding of this important and still understudied period of Chinese Buddhism."
STUART H. YOUNG, Bucknell University, Religious Studies Reviews Volume 37 (2011)
All those interested in Buddhism and East Asian religions, especially the Chan school, as well as scholars of the Song dynasty and Tang and Song intellectual history.
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