Pure Rules

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A genre of Ch'an andzen literature, rendered ‘ch'ing-kuei’ in Chinese and ‘shingi’ in Japanese. Drawing on a work (no longer extant) called Pai-chang ch'ing-kuei, or ‘Pure Rules of Pai-chang’, a work attributed to the T'ang dynasty Ch'an master Pai-chang Huai-hai (749–814), this class of literature sets forth the ‘house rules’ of individual Ch'an and Zen temples. Such literature was usually composed by the founding abbot of a monastery, and encapsulated his vision for the life of the monks residing therein. As such, this literature could be quite heterogeneous: in some instances it takes the form of a breviary, giving the liturgies for various annual services, and in others, it sets up procedures for the monks' daily routine; in others it establishes the number and kind of administrative officers and specifies their duties; in still others (such as Dōgen's Eihei shingi) it consists also of essays intended to exhort the monks to vigorous practice. While this genre has been seen as a characteristic form of Ch'an or Zen literature in the past, recent scholarship has shown that extant examples from the earliest period drew heavily not only from the traditional Indian Vinaya.but also from rules of Chinese T'ien-t'ai monasteries, casting some doubt on its uniquely ‘Ch'an’ character.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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