Sunday, January 17, 2010
Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century - Jiang Wu
Enlightenment in Dispute is the first comprehensive study of the revival of Chan Buddhism in seventeenth-century China. Focusing on the evolution of a series of controversies about Chan enlightenment, Jiang Wu describes the process by which Chan reemerged as the most prominent Buddhist establishment of the time. He argues that the revival of Chan Buddhism depended upon reinventions of previous Chan ideals, which had been largely lost after the Song dynasty.
Wu investigates the development of Chan Buddhism in the seventeenth century, focusing on controversies involving issues such as correct practice and lines of lineage. In this way, he shows how the Chan revival reshaped Chinese Buddhism in late imperial China. Situating these controversies alongside major events of the fateful Ming-Qing transition, Wu shows how the rise and fall of Chan Buddhism was conditioned by social changes in the seventeenth century.
Examining the role of textual practice and the implication of dharma transmission in rebuilding Chan institutions, Wu argues that the Chan revival was actively coordinated to coincide with the transformation of Chinese culture and society. His study concludes by bringing the Chan revival to a larger historical context and reflecting on its legacies, ultimately establishing a general pattern of past Buddhist revivals.