Esoteric Zen

Zen and the Tantric Teachings in Premodern Japan


When a Zen teacher tells you to point at your mind, which part of your body do you point at?
According to the Japanese master Chikotsu Daie (1229–1312), you should point at the fistful of meat that is your heart. Esoteric Zen demonstrates that far from an outlier, Daie's understanding reflects the medieval Buddhist mainstream, in which tantric teachings and Zen were closely entwined movements that often developed within the same circles of thinkers and texts. ,br/> Drawing on newly discovered manuscript materials, it shows how medieval practitioners constructed a unique form of Zen by drawing on tantric doctrinal discourses.

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Stephan Kigensan Licha, Ph.D. (2012), SOAS, is faculty member in the Department of Japanese Studies, University of Heidelberg. He publishes widely on Japanese Buddhism, most recently “The Small Vehicle: The Construction of Hinayana and Japan’s Modern Buddhism”, Monumenta nipponica (2022).
This book will be of interest to specialists and post-graduate students in the fields of Buddhist Studies, Tantric Studies, Japanese Studies, (East) Asian religions, and History of Religions.
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