Dōgen Zen and Song Dynasty China

Ishii Shudo, Albert Welter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter explores the relationship between Dōgen's thought and that of leading Song Chan thinkers of the Caodong (Sōtō) and Linji (Rinzai) lineages, particularly the intense rivalry between the approaches of "silent illumination" and "introspecting the kōan.". When considering the concept of silent illumination, Chan refers to the Chan style of Hongzhi, a fellow disciple with Zhenxie of Danxia and a member of the same Caodong order as Dōgen's teacher, Rujing. Although not necessarily aligning himself with this view, it is clear that the style Dōgen disagreed with most strongly was introspecting the kōan Zen, represented by the illustrious Linji master Dahui (1089-1163), whom Dōgen both praised and excoriated in various writings. The chapter addresses the following questions that are critical to Dōgen studies: What kind of attributes characterized the paths of silent illumination and introspecting-the-kōan during the Song Dynasty? What connection does Dōgen Zen, which resulted from his importation of Song Chan to Kamakura Japan, have with the various Song schools and approaches? In short, it considers the characteristics of Dōgen Zen against the currents of Chinese Chan history and ideology in order to understand and explicates the influences Dōgen received, as well as the unique features of religious practice he formulated and promulgated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDōgen
Subtitle of host publicationTextual and Historical Studies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199932801
ISBN (Print)9780199754465
StatePublished - May 24 2012


  • Caodong
  • Dōgen
  • Kōan introspection
  • Linji
  • Silent illumination
  • Song chan
  • Song dynasty
  • Zen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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