Revealing the Implicit Truth

Albert Welter

in Yongming Yanshou’s Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199760312
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897322 | DOI:
Revealing the Implicit Truth

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This chapter introduces Yongming Yanshou as a major representative of a style of Chan Buddhism known as “scholastic,” or “words and letters” (wenzi) Chan. The Zongjing lu, Yanshou’s major work, is a testament to the solidarity between Chan and the larger, scholastic Buddhist tradition. From Yanshou’s perspective, Chan and the Buddhist tradition are not distinct entities in need of harmonizing, but two aspects of a single unity, complementing and fulfilling each other. The concept that Yanshou relies on to provide this unity is zong, what is referred to as the “deep structure” of Yanshou’s concept of mind— understanding truth as implicit in the principle of universal mind. In this regard, Yanshou refers to mind in terms such as “the deep abode of myriad good deeds,” “the profound source of all wisdom,” “the precious ruler of all existence,” or “the primordial ancestor of the multitude of spiritual beings.”

Keywords: Yongming Yanshou; zong; Zongjing lu; words and letters Chan; universal mind

Chapter.  10395 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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