Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review of Reinventing the Tripitaka by Marcus Bingenheimer

The following review is copied from

Reinventing the Tripitaka

Transformation of the Buddhist Canon in Modern East Asia

Editor(s): Jiang Wu, Greg Wilkinson

Lanham, MD: 

  • Rowman & Littlefield
    , September
     268 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Reinventing the Tripitaka is the second volume on the history of the Buddhist canon in East Asia to appear in English in recent years. Like Spreading Buddha’s Word in East Asia: The Formation and Transformation of the Chinese Buddhist Canon (Jiang Wu & Lucille Chia, eds., Columbia University Press, 2016), Reinventing the Tripitaka is the result of a series of conferences organized by Jiang Wu, which were dedicated to the history of the Buddhist canon in East Asia. While Spreading Buddha’s Word mostly focuses on pre-modern editions, the essays collected in Reinventing the Tripitaka are about the modern history of the Buddhist canon, starting in the late 19th century and ending with two contributions on digital editions.
The contributions in this volume thus look both back and ahead, and are aptly dedicated to the late eminent historian Tsuen-hsuin Tsien and to the co-organizer of one of the first digital editions of the canon, the late Aming Tu.
The history of the Buddhist canon in East Asia is a densely researched topic in Japanese and Chinese Buddhist studies, but has attracted only very limited attention in English. The efforts of Jiang Wu and his collaborators have managed to close an irksome gap.
The essays in Reinventing the Tripitaka often use the term “Chinese Buddhist canon,” with the emphasis on “Chinese”—as in “written in Buddhist Classical Chinese,” not as in “made in China.” Thus, although the idea of a comprehensive canon (dazangjing 大藏經) including works by later authors originated in China, the seven contributions in this volume do range across East Asia and discuss the Buddhist canon in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. After a helpful and comprehensive overview of the issues at stake in the modern formation of the canon, Jiang Wu and Greg Wilkinson have divided Reinventing the Tripitaka into three sections. The first section starts out with a study by Wu on how the first copy of the Chinese canon came to Europe. Wu explains how Samuel Beal was able to make a successful request for a Buddhist canon, which resulted in a copy of the Ōbaku edition arriving in London in 1875. This was the copy used by Nanjō Bun’yū (aka Nanjio Bunyiu) for the first Western catalog of the Chinese canon. Nanjō’s catalog (1883) to what we now know to be the Ōbaku canon became an indispensable tool for European Buddhist studies, until being replaced by a catalog to the Taishō edition: the Fascicule Annexe of the Hōbōgirin project (1931, rev. 1978).
In the second essay Greg Wilkinson and Nicolas Frederick report on Japanese attempts to create what they call “a Buddhist bible.” They attempt to argue that the efforts of (again) Nanjō Bun’yū and, somewhat later, Numata Yehan, to create a reader of Buddhist “sacred texts” (seiten 聖典) were a reaction to the role of the Bible in Christian evangelicalism. That these readers have been in part influenced by and modeled on the Bible is undisputed, but to call them “Buddhist bibles” seems a bad choice. Their compilers were fully aware of the differences between their selection and modern translations of Buddhist scriptures and the role of the Bible in Christianity as the unique, authoritative, and complete record of revelation. The term seiten, which has been used since the 3rd century, simply cannot mean “bible,” as it implies a plurality that is quite absent from the way the Bible has been perceived in the singular both as a book (“The Holy Scripture”) and regarding its function (sola scriptura) over many centuries. To my mind, Wilkinson and Frederick do not provide sufficient evidence that anybody in Japan thought of these texts as “bibles” rather than simply Buddhist readers, for which there is a long tradition within Buddhism. They are mistaken (on 53) about the presumed similarity of the “New Testament” and the “New Translation of Buddhist Scriptures.” The former is shinyaku seisho 新聖書 (lit. “Holy book of the New Covenant”) not the homophonous 新聖書 “New translation of Buddhist Scriptures.”
The second section features three essays on the production and use of modern editions of the canon. Tomoo Kida presents an account of Kōzui Ōtani’s acquisition of a Qing Dragon Canon in 1899. The history of a single copy of this edition that went from China to Japan makes for an interesting comparison with Wu’s account of the copy that Japan had sent to England some twenty-five years earlier. Gregory Adam Scott describes in fascinating detail the production of the little known Pinjia Canon, that was published in Shanghai in 1913. Based on his thorough knowledge of Buddhist publishing ventures in Republican China, Scott elucidates what went into the attempt to produce an affordable, modern Buddhist canon in early 20th century China. The essay by Richard D. McBride II combines fieldwork and historical research to show how the “ritual of bearing [the Buddhist canon] on one’s head” (jeongdae bulsa 頂戴佛事) has developed at Haein Monastery in Korea over the last fifty years. The essay is a valuable reminder that the ritual veneration of the canon is still alive in East Asia today.
The third section is dedicated to digital incarnations of the Buddhist canon in Chinese. In his essay, Christian Wittern, a long-standing contributor to the CBETA project and eminent expert in the digitization of the East Asian textual heritage, outlines the commonalities and differences of the three main projects that have produced digital versions of the Chinese canon. In the final essay Charles Muller,‎ Masahiro Shimoda,‎ and Kiyonori Nagasaki, the core team steering the SAT research platform, give a brief overview of the history of their efforts.
As an appendix, the editors have decided to translate a study by Guangchang Fang, the outstanding expert on Dunhuang Studies as well as the history of the manuscript canon, that was first published in 2006. In it Fang presents a “panoramic overview of the history of the Chinese Buddhist canon” (187). Fang’s essay is a welcome summary and would work well as introductory reading in a seminar.
The original and wide-ranging contributions in this volume are an important contribution to our understanding of the fate of the Buddhist textual heritage in modern East Asia.
About the Reviewer(s): 
Marcus Bingenheimer is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University.
Date of Review: 
February 28, 2018
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 
Jiang Wu is professor of Chinese religion and thought in the department of East Asian Studies and director of the Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Arizona.
Greg Wilkinson is assistant professor of religious education at Brigham Young University.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Willem Grootaers Photos

I wrote a few posts about Willem Grootaers. Here are a couple of photos showing him and his research team (Li Shiyu 李世瑜, Wang Fushi 王辅世, and others) in the 1940s and 1990s. See the previous posts at "Willem A. Grootaers 賀登崧 (ウィレム・A・グロータース) ( 1911- 1999)" and "Galen Eugene Sargent's collection of Willem Grootaer's Articles." 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Yinyuan's Poems in Buddhist Literature 佛教文学中的隐元诗偈

Prof. Lin Guanchao 林观潮 at Xiamen University 厦门大学 is an expert in Yinyuan studies. He published an article on Master Yinyuan's poems entitled "Yinyuan's Poems in Buddhist Literature" 佛教文学中的隐元诗偈which can be downloaded from the following link.

The full citation of the article is as follows:

  • Author / Creator:
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  • 本稿尝试从佛教文学的视角,粗浅分析隐元语录中的诗偈。做为明清时期禅僧语录的代表作,隐元语录内含优秀的佛教文学作品。其中诗偈数量众多,内容多样,体裁完备。基于丰富的创作经验,隐元也提出了对诗偈的看法,并强调诗偈创作主体必须是学道有成的明心见性之人。 
  • Subject:
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    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    New research on Obaku monk Jifei's Dharma Transmission Certificate Bestowed by Yinyuan

    A new article by Ma Xuming 马旭明 on Jifei's 即非 Dharma Transmission Certificate given by Yinyuan 隐元 has been published in China. The original 1657 certificate and a few letters were published in 蜗庐藏珍図录 by 天六书房 in Japan (page 20). (Unfortunately, there is no such a book and publisher in American cataloging system.) These materials were not included in Yinyuan's complete collections.

     The certificate is as follows and resembles the one Yinyuan received from Feiyin Tongrong 费隐通容:
    “从上承嗣来源 :六祖下、南岳让、马祖一、百丈海、黄檗运、临济玄、兴化奖、南院颙、 风穴沼、首山念、汾阳昭、石霜圆、杨岐会、白云端、五祖演、圆悟勤、虎丘隆、天童华、密庵杰、 破庵先、无准范、雪巗钦、高峰妙、中峰本、千岩长、万峰蔚、宝藏持、东明山、海舟慈、宝峰瑄、 天奇瑞、绝学聪、月心宝、禹门传、天童悟、径山容,明历丁酉年寓普门福元禅寺老僧隐元琦手书付即 非一禅人。”
    Here is the detailed bibliography of this article:

    马旭明. (2017). 1657年隐元禅师付即非源流手迹考释. 世界宗教文化, (02), 110-117.

    • 【機構】 無錫博物院;

      【摘要】 明末清初,黃檗宗高僧隱元隆琦在清順治十一年(1654)東渡日本,在日本政治文化中心京都創建"黃檗山萬福寺",開創日本佛教界的一大宗派——黃檗宗派,其影響遍及日本的禪學、文學、藝術、印刷、建筑乃至茶道和生活品味等各個方面,并成為17、18世紀當時日本文化的主流。1657年隱元禪師付即非源流及信件是一件不可多得的珍貴文獻,是研究隱元東渡初期活動的史料,具有重要的歷史價值,值得我們研究。 

      【關鍵詞】 隱元禪師; 即非; 手跡考釋; 

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Pu Yin Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

    Glad to announce the following Pu Yi Buddhist Studies lecture series in Spring 2018.

    The Inaugural Lecture:

    Prof. Albert Welter, Head, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Arizona
    Title: “A New Look at Old Tradition: Reimagining East Asian Buddhism through Hangzhou”
    Time: January 30 (Tuesday), 4-5 pm.
    Location: The Little Chapel of All Nations

    Other three lectures:

    Prof. Yaling Chu (Associate Professor at Shijiazhuang College, Visiting Scholar at the Center for Buddhist Studies)
    Title: “The Idea, History, and Influence of Master Jinghui’s Living Chan in Contemporary Chinese Buddhism” 當代中國佛教的一個側面:淨慧法師及其生活禪的理念、歷史及影響
    Time: February 9 (Friday), 4-5 pm.
    Location: The Little Chapel of All Nations

    Norman Fischer (Former Co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center)
    Title: “San Francisco Zen Center and American Buddhism”
    Time: February 16 (Friday), 3:30-4:30 pm.
    Location: Copper Room, UA Student Union

    Prof. Karl Ryavec (Professor of World Heritage at the University of California, Merced)
    Title: “Buddhism as a Regional Religious System”
    Time: March 15 (Thursday), 4-5 pm.
    Location: The Little Chapel of All Nations

    Sunday, January 28, 2018

    Obaku Monk Duhou Xingshi's 獨吼性獅 Calligraphy in Philadelphia Museum of Art


    A piece of calligraphy by Yinyuna's 隱元 disciple, the Obaku Monk Duhou Xingshi 獨吼性獅 (1624-1688) has been identified by some bloggers online. However, I was not able to verify its provenance through Philadelphia Museum of Art's online catalog.

    Friday, January 5, 2018

    Dizang Temple 地藏庵 in Xinzhuang 新莊, Taibei

    Photo by Jiang Wu

    Dizang Temple 地藏庵 is a beautiful place in Xinzhuang 新莊, Taibei. It is next to the hotel I lived during my stay from Dec. 18-23, 2017. Here is a short discription.

    "Built in 1757, Dizang Buddhist Temple is also named as Public Temple or Public Master Temple 大眾廟. It used to worship public masters of civil and military, but now it worships Ksitigarbha Bodhisatva. From two days before May 1st, a folk custom event will be held: "Anfang", which is a ritual to drive away ghosts; and on May 1st, there will be a grand activity held to pray for the safety of people. This is an annual event and the climax of the activity: people from the temples in this town will form a big group and hand out Xianguang Cake and safety charms to bless those who are luckyenough to have them."