Chan Literature

Jeffrey L. Broughton

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Chan Literature

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In this survey, “Chan” (禪) refers to Chan texts produced in China from the early Tang dynasty (618–907) through the Yuan dynasty (1279–1367). Post-Yuan Chan texts and epigraphy have been omitted. This is a survey of studies on Chan literature, which is a branch of Chinese literature (and simultaneously a branch of Buddhist literature). The framework involves a selection of representative texts from each of the major Chan literary genres: transmission records; yulu 語錄 (recorded sayings); works championing the identity of the sutra teachings and Chan; poetic works (including poetic lines, inscriptions, songs, case collections, and shi 詩 poetry); monastic codes (“regulations of purity”); and sutras closely associated with Chan. For each text an attempt has been made to give an edition and a translation (usually into Japanese or English or both, depending upon availability) as well as relevant monographs, articles, dissertations, and so forth. In most genre categories the first representative texts are naturally “Dunhuang Chan manuscripts,” because the texts found on these manuscripts are the earliest we have. The discovery in the early 20th century of a walled-up cave filled with tens of thousands of Chinese and Tibetan manuscripts within the Mogao Grottoes located outside the oasis town of Dunhuang in northwest China led, over decades, to the retrieval of some of the earliest Chan texts. Woodblock printing of books had its beginnings in China during the Tang (beginning with Buddhist incantations in the 7th century), went through a period of development during the Five Dynasties, and reached a high plateau during the Song (though, of course, manuscripts still circulated). In the Song an extensive printed Chan literature came into wide circulation, including intact Tang texts, Tang materials reworked and burnished by Song editors for their own purposes, and a vast new Song Chan literature. Printed Chan literature was very important in the spread of Chan among the educated elite during the Song.

Article.  13734 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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