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Patriarchs on PaperA Critical History of Medieval Chan Literature$
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Alan Cole

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284067

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284067.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Chan Compendiums from the Song Dynasty

Chan Compendiums from the Song Dynasty

Chapter:
(p.195) 8 Chan Compendiums from the Song Dynasty
Source:
Patriarchs on Paper
Author(s):

Alan Cole

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520284067.003.0009

This chapter examines vast compendiums in Song-era Chan literature that present information about many hundreds of past Chan masters. The Song compendiums functioned as museums of sorts, museums which held idealized images of the past masters in a kind of suspended animation. Considered more broadly, it would seem that very old Chinese assumptions about the quasi-presence of ancestors joined forces with new and evocative literary styles that gave readers an enhanced sense of being in the company of the patriarchs as they read through these highly fictionalized “histories.” Thus, it was that with the new literary talents of the Song, past masters could be made to live alongside ordinary Chinese Buddhism, thereby providing attractive and inspiring examples of a Buddhism that could never exist in the real world, but could, in literary form, enhance more traditional forms of Buddhism and advance various real-world agendas.

Keywords:   Song-era Chan literature, Chan masters, Song compendiums, Chinese Buddhism, Buddhism

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