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Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 4:20 am
by Jnana
Some important Chan texts and studies which have been published in recent years:

The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen by Jeffrey L. Broughton.
  • In the early part of this century, the discovery of a walled-up cave in northwest China led to the retrieval of a lost early Chan (Zen) literature of the Tang dynasty (618-907). One of the recovered Zen texts was a seven-piece collection, the Bodhidharma Anthology. Of the numerous texts attributed to Bodhidharma, this anthology is the only one generally believed to contain authentic Bodhidharma material.

    Jeffrey L. Broughton provides a reliable annotated translation of the Bodhidharma Anthology along with a detailed study of its nature, content, and background. His work is especially important for its rendering of the three Records, which contain some of the earliest Zen dialogues and constitute the real beginnings of Zen literature.
The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment translated by A. Charles Muller.
  • The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, used in monastic education for more than a millennium, is a concise guide to the key paradigms of the practice systems of the East Asian meditational schools (Ch'an, Son, and Zen). Contained in its twelve chapters are definitive explanations of the meaning of innate and actualized enlightenment, sudden and gradual enlightenment, the true nature of ignorance and suffering, along with numerous examples of methods of contemplation that accord with and reflect the basic Ch'an views on enlightenment and practice. Although the Sutra was popular throughout the East Asian region, it attained its highest canonical status within the Korean Chogye school, where it is still a key text in the core curriculum of modern-day monks and nuns. The Sutra is translated here in full, along with the eloquent and revelatory commentary of the Choson monk Kihwa (1376-1433).
Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism by Mario Poceski.
  • Under the leadership of Mazu Daoyi (709-788) and his numerous disciples, the Hongzhou School emerged as the dominant tradition of Chan (Zen) Buddhism in China during the middle part of the Tang dynasty (618-907). Mario Poceski offers a systematic examination of the Hongzhou School's momentous growth and rise to preeminence as the bearer of Chan orthodoxy, and analyzes its doctrines against the backdrop of the intellectual and religious milieus of Tang China. Poceski demonstrates that the Hongzhou School represented the first emergence of an empire-wide Chan tradition that had strongholds throughout China and replaced the various fragmented Schools of early Chan with an inclusive orthodoxy.

    Poceski's study is based on the earliest strata of permanent sources, rather than on the later apocryphal "encounter dialogue" stories regularly used to construe widely-accepted but historically unwarranted interpretations about the nature of Chan in the Tang dynasty. He challenges the traditional and popularly-accepted view of the Hongzhou School as a revolutionary movement that rejected mainstream mores and teachings, charting a new path for Chan's independent growth as a unique Buddhist tradition. This view, he argues, rests on a misreading of key elements of the Hongzhou School's history. Rather than acting as an unorthodox movement, the Hongzhou School's success was actually based largely on its ability to mediate tensions between traditionalist and iconoclastic tendencies. Going beyond conventional romanticized interpretations that highlight the radical character of the Hongzhou School, Poceski shows that there was much greater continuity between early and classical Chan -- and between the Hongzhou School and the rest of Tang Buddhism -- than previously thought.
Zongmi on Chan by Jeffrey L. Broughton.
  • Japanese Zen often implies that textual learning (gakumon) in Buddhism and personal experience (taiken) in Zen are separate, but the career and writings of the Chinese Tang dynasty Chan master Guifeng Zongmi (780-841) undermine this division. For the first time in English, Jeffrey Broughton presents an annotated translation of Zongmi's magnum opus, the Chan Prolegomenon, along with translations of his Chan Letter and Chan Notes.

    The Chan Prolegomenon persuasively argues that Chan "axiom realizations" are identical to the teachings embedded in canonical word and that one who transmits Chan must use the sutras and treatises as a standard. Japanese Rinzai Zen has, since the Edo period, marginalized the sutra-based Chan of the Chan Prolegomenon and its successor text, the Mind Mirror (Zongjinglu) of Yongming Yanshou (904-976). This book contains the first in-depth treatment in English of the neglected Mind Mirror, positioning it as a restatement of Zongmi's work for a Song dynasty audience.

    The ideas and models of the Chan Prolegomenon, often disseminated in East Asia through the conduit of the Mind Mirror, were highly influential in the Chan traditions of Song and Ming China, Korea from the late Koryo onward, and Kamakura-Muromachi Japan. In addition, Tangut-language translations of Zongmi's Chan Prolegomenon and Chan Letter constitute the very basis of the Chan tradition of the state of Xixia. As Broughton shows, the sutra-based Chan of Zongmi and Yanshou was much more normative in the East Asian world than previously believed, and readers who seek a deeper, more complete understanding of the Chan tradition will experience a surprising reorientation in this book.
Yongming Yanshou's Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu: A Special Transmission Within the Scriptures by Albert Welter.
  • 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 Yanshou's life, showing how Yanshou's 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 Chan's early masters.

    In light of Yanshou's 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 Yanshou's 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.
The Meaning of Myriad Good Deeds: A Study of Yung-ming Yen-shou and the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi by Albert Welter (title link to PDF dissertation from McMaster University Digital Commons or click here for link to hardcover publication).
  • One of [Yung-ming Yen-shou's] best known works, the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi, has long been cherished by the tradition for its advocacy of harmony between Ch'an meditation and Pure Land practice. The dissertation questions the association of Yen-shou and his Treatise on the Common End of Myriad Good Deeds with the motives of the Pure land school from two points of view. In the history of the numerous biographies of Yen-shou, the association of his image with the Pure Land movement is relatively late. An investigation of the Wanshan t'ung-kuei chi demonstrates that the synthesis of Ch'an meditation and Pure Land practice is a topic of discussion, but is by no means the central concern of the text from either a theoretical or pracical standpoint. The dissertation contends that Yen-shou's Ch'an-Pure Land synthesis should be understood within the context of the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi as a whole. A translation of elect passages of the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi are included by way of confirming the reassessment put forward in the dissertation.
Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul's Korean Way of Zen by Robert E. Buswell, Jr.
  • Jinul (1158-1210) was the founder of the Korean tradition of Zen. He provides one of the most lucid and accessible accounts of Zen practice and meditation to be found anywhere in East Asian literature. Tracing Back the Radiance, an abridgment of Buswell's Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul, combines an extensive introduction to Jinul's life and thought with translations of three of his most representative works.
Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi by Taigen Dan Leighton.
  • Hongzhi -- the twelfth-century Chinese Zen master who was predecessor of the famous philosopher Dogen -- is celebrated in Zen literature as one of its most artistically graceful stylists. He was the first to articulate silent illumination, the nondual objectless meditation commonly known to modern Zen students as "just sitting." Previously available in English only in scattered fragments, Hongzhi's influential teaching is here presented comprehensively, not as a historical artifact, but as a timeless and inspiring guide to spiritual awareness in the contemporary world. Taigen Daniel Leighton provides an informative introduction that traces Hongzhi's life, important facets of his teaching, and his place in the Zen tradition.
Dōgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation by Carl Bielefeldt.
  • Zen Buddhism is perhaps best known for its emphasis on meditation, and probably no figure in the history of Zen is more closely associated with meditation practice than the thirteenth-century Japanese master Dogen, founder of the Soto school. This study examines the historical and religious character of the practice as it is described in Dogen's own meditation texts, introducing new materials and original perspectives on one of the most influential spiritual traditions of East Asian civilization.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 8:36 am
by Astus
I'd add a few others, mostly studies.

Cultivating original enlightenment: Wonhyo's Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra by Robert E. Buswell Jr.

Seeing through Zen: encounter, transformation, and genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism by John R. McRae
The Northern School and the formation of early Chʻan Buddhism by John R. McRae
The mystique of transmission: on an early Chan history and its contexts by Wendi Leigh Adamek
Inventing Hui-neng, the sixth Patriarch: Hagiography and biography in early Ch'an by John J. Jørgensen
The Hongzhou School of Chan Buddhism in Eighth- Through Tenth-Century China by Jinhua Jia (a good complementary to Poceski's work)
The Linji lu and the creation of Chan orthodoxy: the development of Chan's records of sayings literature by Albert Welter
How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute Over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China by Morten Schlutter
The Power of Patriarchs: Qisong and Lineage in Chinese Buddhism by Elizabeth Morrison
Monks, rulers, and literati: the political ascendancy of Chan Buddhism by Albert Welter
Enlightenment in dispute: the reinvention of Chan Buddhism in seventeenth-century China by Jiang Wu
Eminent nuns: women Chan masters of seventeenth-century China by Beata Grant
The origins of Buddhist monastic codes in China: an annotated translation and study of the Chanyuan qinggui by Yifa, Zongze
Sōtō Zen in medieval Japan by William M. Bodiford
Five Mountains: the Rinzai Zen monastic institution in medieval Japan by Martin Collcutt
Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism: Myōshinji, a living religion by Jørn Borup

Works by Bernard Faure:
The will to orthodoxy: a critical genealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism
Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition
The rhetoric of immediacy: a cultural critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism
Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 2:52 pm
by Astus
A few more:

Integrating Chinese Buddhism: A Study of Yongming Yanshou’s Guanxin Xuanshu by Yi-hsung Huang
Inquiry into the origin of humanity: an annotated translation of Tsung-mi's Yüan jen lun with a modern commentary by Peter N. Gregory
Tsung-mi and the sinification of Buddhism by Peter N. Gregory
Coming to terms with Chinese Buddhism: a reading of the Treasure store treatise by Robert H. Sharf
Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought by Peter N. Gregory
Buddhism in the Sung by Peter N. Gregory, Daniel Aaron Getz

Steven Heine, Dale Stuart Wright:

Zen ritual: studies of Zen Buddhist theory in practice
Zen classics: formative texts in the history of Zen Buddhism
The Zen canon: understanding the classic texts
The Kōan: texts and contexts in Zen Buddhism
Zen Masters

Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism by Dale S. Wright

Steven Heine:

Opening a mountain: kōans of the Zen Masters
Shifting shape, shaping text: philosophy and folklore in the Fox kōan
Zen skin, Zen marrow: will the real Zen Buddhism please stand up?
Did Dōgen go to China?: what he wrote and when he wrote it
Dōgen and the Kōan tradition: a tale of two Shōbōgenzō texts

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 8:53 pm
by norman
Great topic!

Has anyone read The Record of Linji? ... 0824828216" onclick=";return false;

The Linji lu (Record of Linji) has been an essential text of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism for nearly a thousand years. A compilation of sermons, statements, and acts attributed to the great Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan (d. 866), it serves as both an authoritative statement of Zen's basic standpoint and a central source of material for Zen koan practice. Scholars study the text for its importance in understanding both Zen thought and East Asian Mahayana doctrine, while Zen practitioners cherish it for its unusual simplicity, directness, and ability to inspire.

One of the earliest attempts to translate this important work into English was by Sasaki Shigetsu (1882-1945), a pioneer Zen master in the U.S. and the founder of the First Zen Institute of America. At the time of his death, he entrusted the project to his wife, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, who in 1949 moved to Japan and there founded a branch of the First Zen Institute at Daitoku-ji. Mrs. Sasaki, determined to produce a definitive translation, assembled a team of talented young scholars, both Japanese and Western, who in the following years retranslated the text in accordance with modern research on Tang-dynasty colloquial Chinese. As they worked on the translation, they compiled hundreds of detailed notes explaining every technical term, vernacular expression, and literary reference. One of the team, Yanagida Seizan (later Japan's preeminent Zen historian), produced a lengthy introduction that outlined the emergence of Chinese Zen, presented a biography of Linji, and traced the textual development of the Linji lu. The sudden death of Mrs. Sasaki in 1967 brought the nearly completed project to a halt. An abbreviated version of the book was published in 1975, but neither this nor any other English translations that subsequently appeared contain the type of detailed historical, linguistic, and doctrinal annotation that was central to Mrs. Sasaki's plan.

The materials assembled by Mrs. Sasaki and her team are finally available in the present edition of the Record of Linji. Chinese readings have been changed to Pinyin and the translation itself has been revised in line with subsequent research by Iriya Yoshitaka and Yanagida Seizan, the scholars who advised Mrs. Sasaki. The notes, nearly six hundred in all, are almost entirely based on primary sources and thus retain their value despite the nearly forty years since their preparation. They provide a rich context for Linji's teachings, supplying a wealth of information on Tang colloquial expressions, Buddhist thought, and Zen history, much of which is unavailable anywhere else in English. This revised edition of the Record of Linji is certain to be of great value to Buddhist scholars, Zen practitioners, and readers interested in Asian Buddhism.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 8:58 pm
by norman

Anything in particular you would recommend from that list?

Thank you.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 10:18 pm
by Astus
Seeing through Zen by McRae I think is the best for starters in the topic, and it is in quite an enjoyable style. Zongmi on Chan, The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, Cultivating Original Enlightenment and Tracing Back the Radiance are wonderful and comprehensive works on Zen doctrine and practice I can recommend for everyone who is serious about understanding this kind of Buddhism.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:19 pm
by Greg
Tracing Back the Radiance is a great book. Unfortunately, however, it is a highly abridged version of the far more comprehensive The Korean Approach to Zen - The Collected Works of Chinul. Sadly, this has been out of print for quite a while. Fortunately, it is on scribd. ( ... -of-Chinul)

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:51 am
by mtran
What part of recent don't anyone understand? Oh, if you're talking about within the past 100 years, these books quite recent, compared to those written in the early 1900s.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:37 am
by upasaka_/\_
all of the books listed above are fantastic ideas! thanks to the poster! if you are like me and cannot afford them though, here are some free resources on chan:

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 6:27 pm
by greentreee
hi just thought i'd add one to the list. i haven't completed reading it but i thought i add it anyways, considering the subject.

Grass Mountain: A Seven Day Intensive in Ch’an Training With Master Nan Huai-Chin by Margaret Yuan, Janis Walker 0877286124

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:28 am
by el gatito
The Essence of Chan By Guo Gu

The Essence of Chan is a commentary on the legendary founder Bodhidharma's text, "Two Entries and Four Practices." This short scripture contains the marrow, or essence, of all his teachings. Chan teacher Guo Gu offers a translation of this significant text, as well as an elaboration on how the teachings can be applied to life. The book is a nonsectarian guide of immense practical help for all Dharma practitioners. To purchase a copy of this ebook please visit: { }.

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:11 pm
by seeker242
Curious, is The Bodhidharma Anthology considered to be a definitive account of Bodhidharma and his teachings? I read that previously Bodhidharma actual teaching and life, etc. were somewhat suspect of being genuine Bodhidharma. Does the finding of this text settle the matter once and for all?

Re: Chan Texts: Translations & Studies

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:52 am
by hermitseb
seeker242 wrote:
Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:11 pm
Curious, is The Bodhidharma Anthology considered to be a definitive account of Bodhidharma and his teachings? I read that previously Bodhidharma actual teaching and life, etc. were somewhat suspect of being genuine Bodhidharma. Does the finding of this text settle the matter once and for all?
Old post to reply to, but some interesting information in case others wonder about this: according to the various footnotes in it (I own this and is one of my favorites) some of the text is attributed to Bodhidharma, other parts are not.. Some of the main text is readable via the preview of Google Books, by the way, as of 2 weeks ago when I needed some screenshot quotes for some folk.