Chan/Zen conceptions of orthodoxy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Orthodoxy is an important concept found throughout religious traditions that is used for determining correct (ortho) doctrine (dox), a consolidation of normative teachings to guide practitioners in the proper application of ritual activities and beliefs. This chapter considers the influence of twentieth-century Zen orthodoxy over contemporary understandings of Chan and Zen. It focuses on the subject of Chan orthodoxy in early Chan through the Song dynasty. The formation of modern Zen orthodoxy is a complicated process rooted in Japan’s reaction and adaptation to modernization and Westernization. The chapter discusses the role Suzuki’s interpretation of Zen played in challenging assumptions of Buddhist Studies in the West prevalent in the early twentieth century: the assumed authority of Indian Buddhism and the Pali canon, the prejudice against Mahayana as a degraded form of “original” Buddhism, and the power and arrogance of the Western Buddhist academic establishment to exclude Asian Buddhist voices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781118610398
ISBN (Print)9781118610336
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Chan orthodoxy
  • D.T. Suzuki
  • Song dynasty
  • Zen orthodoxy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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