Approaches to Chan, Sŏn, and Zen Studies

Chinese Chan Buddhism and Its Spread throughout East Asia

Edited by Albert Welter, Steven Heine, and Jin Y. Park
Foreword by Robert E. Buswell Jr.

Subjects: Zen Buddhism, Buddhism, Chinese Religion And Philosophy, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438490892, 476 pages, November 2022
Paperback : 9781438490885, 476 pages, May 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Robert E. Buswell Jr.

Section I: Chinese Chan and the Greater East Asian Region

1. The Spread of Chan Buddhism: Linguistic and Cultural Constraints
John Jorgensen

2. The Hangzhou Region and the Spread of East Asian Buddhism
Albert Welter

3. A Greater Vehicle to the Other Shore: Chinese Chan Buddhism and the Sino-Japanese Trade in the Seventeenth Century
Jiang Wu

Section II: The Japanese Zen Nexus

4. The Transmission of the Blue Cliff Record to Medieval Japan: Textuality and Historicity in Relation to Mythology and Demythology
Steven Heine

5. Interpreters, Brush-Dialogue, and Poetry: Translingual Communication between Chan and Zen Monks
Jason Protass

6. Doves on My Knees, Golden Dragons in My Sleeves: Emigrant Chan Masters and Early Japanese Zen Buddhism
Steffen Doll

7. The Lute, Lyric Poetry, and Literary Arts in Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen Buddhism
George A. Keyworth

Section III: The Korean Sŏn Nexus

8. Pure Rules and Public Monasteries in Korea
Juhn Y. Ahn

9. Gender and Dharma Lineage: Nuns in Korean Sŏn Buddhism
Jin Y. Park

10. Mindful Interactions and Recalibrations: From Chinul to T’oegye
Kevin N. Cawley

Section IV: Chan, Zen, and Sŏn in the Modern Period

11. Taixu’s History of the Chan Tradition
Eric Goodell

12. Zen Internationalism, Zen Revolution: Inoue Shūten and Uchiyama Gudō and the Crisis of Buddhist Modernity in Late Meiji Japan
James Mark Shields

13. The Struggle of the Jogye Order to Define its Identity as a Meditative School in Contemporary Korea
Bernard Senecal


A comprehensive treatment of the shared traditions of Chan, Sŏn, and Zen in dynamic interaction across East Asia, acknowledging the changing and growing parameters of the field of Zen studies.


This volume focuses on Chinese Chan Buddhism and its spread across East Asia, with special attention to its impacts on Korean Sŏn and Japanese Zen. Zen enthralled the scholarly world throughout much of the twentieth century, and Zen Studies became a major academic discipline in its wake. Interpreted through the lens of Japanese Zen and its reaction to events in the modern world, Zen Studies incorporated a broad range of Zen-related movements in the East Asian Buddhist world. As broad as the scope of Zen Studies was, however, it was clearly rooted in a Japanese context, and aspects of the "Zen experience" that did not fit modern Japanese Zen aspirations tended to be marginalized and ignored. Approaches to Chan, Sŏn, and Zen Studies acknowledges the move beyond Zen Studies to recognize the changing and growing parameters of the field. The volume also examines the modern dynamics in each of these traditions.

Albert Welter is Professor and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona and the author of The Administration of Buddhism in China: A Study and Translation of Zanning and the Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy. Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University and the author of Dogen: Japan's Original Zen Teacher. Jin Y. Park is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University and the author of Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iryŏp.


"Scholars of East Asian religions and Buddhism will find a range of inspiring scholarship here." — Religious Studies Review

"This book focuses on the much-neglected role of Chan in guiding an international movement of Buddhist philosophy and practice throughout East Asia. The extensive bibliography is itself an invaluable research tool for scholars, drawing on both recent publications and traditional texts. The editors and contributors deftly challenge 'biases inherent in Zen Studies' through approaches that draw on materials that have been overlooked or ignored. The result is a much richer and complex view of Chan and Sŏn Studies reaching beyond long-prevailing, simplistic assumptions about Zen Studies." — Sandra A. Wawrytko, coeditor of Dao Companion to Chinese Buddhist Philosophy