The problem with orthodoxy in Zen Buddhism: Yongming Yanshou's notion of zong in the Zongjin lu (Records of the Source Mirror)

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The practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan, Chan Buddhism in China, and its counterparts in Korea and Vietnam bear little resemblance to the way this form of Buddhism is often characterized ideologically. The present study explores some of the premises of “moderate” Chan, which forms the basis for Chan/Zen as an institutional religion operating within the larger Buddhist world of East Asian societies. In particular, the study addresses the notion of zong in the Zongjing lu (Record of the Source Mirror), compiled by Yongming Yanshou (904-975), one of the leading representatives of “scholastic” (wenzi) Chan and a key figure in articulating the “moderate” Chan position. The study suggests how the definition of contemporary Zen orthodoxy has been dominated by representatives from the “rhetorical” Zen tradition, creating a disjuncture between our intellectual understanding of Zen and the principles guiding its actual practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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