Reimagining Chan Buddhism : Sheng Yen and the Creation of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan book cover
1st Edition

Reimagining Chan Buddhism
Sheng Yen and the Creation of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan

ISBN 9781032048444
Published November 15, 2021 by Routledge
226 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is the first socio-intellectual history of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan (Zen), a new lineage of Buddhism founded by the late Chinese Buddhist cleric, Sheng Yen (1931–2009)—arguably one of the most influential Chan masters in contemporary times.

The book challenges the received academic and popular image of Chan Buddhism as a meditation school that bypasses scriptural learning. Using Sheng Yen’s doctrinal classification (Chn. panjiao) chart as an example, the book shows Sheng Yen’s Chan as a synthesis of both Indian and Chinese premodern forms of Buddhism, and as the summum bonum of Han transmission of Chinese Buddhism (Chn. Hanchuan fojiao). The book demonstrates how Sheng Yen’s presentation of Chan was intimately related to the volatile social and political realities of his life—the Communist takeover of China and the subsequent industrial boom that impacted Taiwanese society. In short, this book presents a historically and culturally embodied approach to the formation of Buddhist doctrine and practice. Drawing on the works of postcolonial theories that integrate the role of the researcher into the research, the book also offers a more integrated approach between emic and etic, insider and outsider perspectives to research.

Advancing the field of Buddhist studies, the book will be of interest to scholars of Buddhism in the modern period, twentieth-century religious history of China and Taiwan, Chan/Zen studies, World Religions, Asian civilizations, and Modern Biographies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Biography, History, and Positionality

1. A Life of Contingencies and Crises

2. An Imagined Orthodoxy

3. Chan as the Doctrinal Culmination of the Han Transmission of Chinese Buddhism

4. Chan as the Experiential Fulfillment of the Han Transmission of Chinese Buddhism


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Jimmy Yu is Associate Professor of Chinese Buddhism and Religions in the Department of Religion, Florida State University, USA.