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Today there is a distinction in Japanese Zen Buddhist monasticism between prayer temples and training centers. Zen training is typically thought to encompass either meditation training or public-case introspection, or both. Yet first-hand accounts exist from the Edo period (1603–1868) which suggest that the study of Buddhist (e.g., public case records, discourse records, sūtra literature, prayer manuals) and Chinese (poetry, philosophy, history) literature may have been equally if not more important topics for rigorous study. How much more so the case with the cultivation of the literary arts by Zen monastics? This paper first investigates the case of a network of eminent seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scholar-monks from all three modern traditions of Japanese Zen—Sōtō, Rinzai, and Ōbaku—who extolled the commentary Kakumon Kantetsu 廓門貫徹 (d. 1730) wrote to every single piece of poetry or prose in Juefan Huihong’s 覺範恵洪 (1071–1128) collected works, Chan of Words and Letters from Stone Gate Monastery (Ch. Shimen wenzichan; Jp. Sekimon mojizen). Next, it explores what the wooden engravings of Study Effortless-Action and Efficacious Vulture at Daiōji, the temple where Kantetsu was the thirteenth abbot and where he welcomed the Chinese émigré Buddhist monk Xinyue Xingchou (Shin’etsu Kōchū 心越興儔, alt. Donggao Xinyue, Tōkō Shin’etsu 東皐心越, 1639–1696), might disclose about how Zen was cultivated in practice? Finally, this paper asks how Kantetsu’s promotion of Huihong’s “scholastic” or “lettered” Chan or Zen might lead us rethink the role of Song dynasty (960–1279) literary arts within the rich historical context of Zen Buddhism in Edo Japan?

In: Journal of Religion in Japan
In: Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia
In: Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia
In: Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia
In: Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia

Abstract

Scholars justifiably disagree about whether or not to include the ancient capital of Nara, Japan as a site along the Silk Road(s). If we compare Buddhist manuscripts preserved in cave 17 of the Mogao grottoes near Dunhuang, in western China, with eighth-century manuscripts conserved either in the Shōsōin 正倉院 (more precisely the Shōgozō 聖語藏 of Tōdaiji 東大寺) or twelfth-century copies of eighth- or ninth-century texts included in the Nanatsudera 七寺 or Matsuo shrine 松尾大社 collections, then we can find evidence of a broad tradition of copying “all the scriptures” (yiqie jing or issaikyō 一切經 ) or a “canon.” There is testimony to this tradition not only in terms of calligraphy but also for the practice of writing particular kinds of colophons (okugaki 奥書 or shikigo 識語) to certain key texts such as massive compendia (e.g., Mahāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra 大般若經, Z 1, T 220), dhāraṇī-sūtras, Abhidharma (e.g., Abhidharmavibhāṣa-śāstra 阿毗曇毗婆沙論, Z 1071, T 1546), and Āgamas. In this paper I introduce some of the longer colophons from Dunhuang that testify to lay patrons having “canons” copied (e.g., P ch. 2056). I then compare these with several eighth- century colophons from Nara. Next, I explore how most later colophons from Dunhuang and ancient Japan reflect attention to proofreading, with the exception of scriptures copied from the library at Bonshakuji 梵釈寺, an ancient temple in Ōtsu, Shiga prefecture. Finally, I address how we might reconsider notions of the Silk Road(s) from the perspective of an extensive tradition of producing manuscript editions of the Buddhist “canon” in western China to Japan.

In: Beyond the Silk and Book Roads
East Asian and Global Perspectives
The peer-reviewed Journal of Chan Buddhism: East Asian and Global Perspectives is the first of its kind in English to specifically present academic research about Chinese Chan, Korean Sŏn, Vietnamese Thìên, and Japanese Zen Buddhism. The Journal of Chan Buddhism is an interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary journal and will accept submissions from all academic disciplines related to the study of Chan/Sŏn/Zen Buddhism, including, but not limited to: the history of religions, literary studies, Dunhuang Chan studies, Tibetan and Tangut language Chan studies, doctrinal studies, art historical perspectives, institutional history, anthropological research, and comparative, philosophical studies. The journal also offers book reviews and translations into English of innovative research articles by eminent scholars in East Asia. The Journal of Chan Buddhism has separate area editors (e.g., Chan, Sŏn, Zen) to facilitate broad but still multifaceted coverage of Chinese Chan Studies, Korean Sŏn Studies, Vietnamese Thìên Studies, and Japanese Zen Studies.
The journal is hosted by the Buddhist Studies Forum at the University of British Columbia (UBC), funded by the Tianzhu Charitable Foundation of Guangdong Province, China, and facilitated by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project on Buddhism and East Asian Religions (frogbear.org) at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
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