Pure Land and Chan in Yuan Dynasty China

Pure Land and Chan in Yuan Dynasty China

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 | 3:00 – 04:00pm | Student Union Building, Room 215

Natasha Heller (UCLA) “Pure Land, Chan, and Poetry in the Yuan Dynasty”

In 1301, the eminent calligrapher and statesman Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322) wrote an afterword to a set of 108 poems, praising them for expressing the essentials of the tradition. These poems were written by Zhao’s teacher, the Chan master Zhongfeng Mingben 中峰明本 (1263-1323), and he uses verse to assert that Pure Land recitation is wholly compatible with the Chan tradition. Such a view is not new in the Yuan dynasty: rather, the merit of these poems lies in Mingben’s use of compelling imagery and varied settings to advance his view of Pure Land practice. My paper will explore the content of the poems as well as their doctrinal and cultural contexts.

Sing Song Liu (National Chengchi University) “Why Chan is Pure Land, Pure Land is Chan? Enactment of Teaching, Practice, and Realization in ‘Three Times Observance’ (三時繫念) from Chan Master Chong-feng Ming-ben (中峰明本)”

In the practice of Buddhism, Chan (Dhyana, Zen 禪) and Pure Land (淨土) could be treated as two major dharma methods. Suffice it to say, for their popular and pervasive influences, they are raised to our attention by its appealing and appropriation in daily practices. Alternatively, the adepts at syncretism of the thought and praxis are developed through the wisdom and compassion per its characteristics. The typical and famous one is the “Chan is Pure Land, Pure Land is Chan.” Although this is so often to be quoted, yet for its illumination, the spiritual or intellectual enlightenment is few to be explored. Since the saying is always attributed to Chan Master Zhong-fong Ming-ben (中峰明本) in Yuan Dynasty: “There is no Pure Land outside of Chan, and so as other than Pure Land, there is no Chan” (禪外不曾談淨土, 須知淨土外無禪) , so accordingly the study will focus on his work: “Three Times Observance” (三時繫念),to shed light on the concern. In this study, I suggest the tripartite structure of the ritual in “Three Times Observance”, that is the enactment of teaching, practice and realization in the ritualization of the practice. Meditation is as a ritual observed in the enactment of teaching of Pure Land for daily implementation in Buddha Activities or Dharma Services. (佛事/法事)

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