Zen and the Art of Fund-raising

John R. McRae

in Seeing through Zen

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780520237971
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937079 | DOI:
Zen and the Art of Fund-raising

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This chapter explores the art of fundraising as practiced within the Chan tradition. It explains how the encounter model of Chan religious praxis worked as a public ideology, how Chan responded to the persecution of Buddhism and the economic tribulations of ninth-century China, and how the mythology of Chan monastic labor served an important function, even though most of the productive labor in Buddhist monasteries—including supposedly Chan temples—was performed by lay workers and tenant farmers. In contrast to the conventional viewpoint that the fundraising efforts of Chan abbots during the Song dynasty indicate the degeneration of both Chan and the Buddhist tradition as a whole, the chapter suggests precisely the opposite: that the institutional success of Chan Buddhism was made possible by—and in fact represents proof of—its vitality as a spiritual discipline. It also discusses Shenhui's rhetoric for Chan fundraising, expansion of Mazu Daoyi's Hongzhou school, the impact of the Huichang persecution and Huang Chao rebellion on Chan, the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall, and the institutional function of the Chan lineage system.

Keywords: Chan Buddhism; fundraising; persecution; China; Song dynasty; Shenhui; Mazu Daoyi; Hongzhou school; rebellion; lineage

Chapter.  7537 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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