BY Alan Cole
This book offers a provocative rereading of the early history of Chan Buddhism (Zen). Working from a history-of-religions point of view that asks how and why certain literary tropes were chosen to depict the essence of the Buddhist tradition to Chinese readers, this analysis focuses on the narrative logics of the early Chan genealogies—the seventh-and eighth-century lineage texts that claimed that certain high-profile Chinese men were descendents of Bodhidharma and the Buddha. This book argues that early Chan's image of the perfect-master-who-owns-tradition was constructed for reasons that have little to do with Buddhist practice, new styles of enlightened wisdom, or "orthodoxy," and much more to do with politics, property, geography, and, of course, new forms of writing.
Paperback, 365 pages