Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century China

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65 Scopus citations


This book studies the revival of Chan Buddhism in seventeenth-century China. Focusing on a series of controversies, this book argues that the Chan revival was a systematic reinvention of Chan ideals of the past. The revival not only reshaped Chinese Buddhism but also greatly influenced Buddhism throughout East Asia. The first controversy is the debate between Miyun Yuanwu and his dharma heir, Hanyue Fazang, in the late Ming (1550-1644) and the Yongzheng emperor's intervention in 1733. The second controversy concerns Miyun Yuanwu's dharma heir Feiyin Tongrong's Chan genealogy that rearranged conventional accepted dharma transmission lines based on dubious inscriptions and thus provoked a notorious lawsuit in 1654. At the end of this book, this book offers an explanation about the rise and fall of Chan Buddhism by examining the role of textual practice and the implications of dharma transmission in rebuilding Chan institutions. By tracing the legacies of 17th-century Chan Buddhism in modern Chinese Buddhism and placing Chan in larger historical context, this book explores a general pattern of Buddhist revival in the history of Chinese Buddhism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages432
ISBN (Electronic)9780199868872
ISBN (Print)9780195333572
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • 17th-century china
  • Chan buddhism
  • Controversy
  • Dharma transmission
  • Feiyin tongrong
  • Hanyue fazang
  • Miyun yuanwu
  • Pattern of buddhist revival
  • Textual practice
  • Yongzheng

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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