Saturday, December 30, 2017

Master Yinyuan's 隐元 Death Poem at Foguang Shan 佛光山

During my trip to Foguang shan in Nov. 2017, I noticed that Master Yinyuan's 隱元 death poem was inscribed onto the wall outside the Foguang Yuan Art Gallery 佛光緣美術館.

A Chan stick from the West,
          Stirs up a powerful wind
Conjures up a Huangbo mountain, 
          enduring without dominating
Today I put down 
          both body and mind
Suddenly transcend the dharma realm, 
          becoming one with the true emptiness


《隱元禪師全集》第十卷,頁5055;第十一卷,頁 5439

Photo by Jiang Wu

Monday, December 18, 2017

Galen Eugene Sargent's collection of Willem Grootaer's Articles

During my research of W. A. Grootaers, I checked out a bound packet of collected papers by Grootaers. It is very likely bound by Galen Eugene Sargent 金萨静 because one of the copies has Grootaers' Chinese signature on it, dated June 20, 1957. G. E. Sargent authored several books, including Tchou Hi contre le Bouddhisme (Zhu Xi against Buddhism, 1955). He was later a professor at Indiana University and died in 1975. The collection of his books is now in the library of Institute of Advanced Studies of World Religions in New York.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Duli Xingyi's 獨立性易 Calligraphy at Worcester Art Museum

I have been to Worcester Art Museum before but never noticed they have a piece of calligraphy by the Obaku monk Duli Xingyi (1596-1672). Duli was the contemporary of Yinyuan Longqi 隱元隆琦 but never received Yinyuan's Dharma Transmission. The painting was done by Unkoku Toeki 雲谷等益 (1591-1644).

OBAKU DOKURYU (Calligrapher)
Japanese, 1596-1672
Painting traditionally attributed to Unkoku Toeki, 1591-1644
Signature: Shoeki Dokuryu shi Haidai
Seals: (upper) Dokuryu, (lower) Tengai Ichikanjin
Alexander H. Bullock Fund

Copyright Notice

This painting of Daruma (Bodhidharma), the Indian monk who traveled from India to China in the sixth century and founded Zen Buddhism, has a traditional attribution to Unkoku Toeki on the basis of interpolated seals. The calligraphy is of greater interest than the portrait, with which it shares a highly simplified style.

Dokuryu (Chinese: Tai Li) was a Chinese scholar and calligrapher who fled the Manchu conquest of his homeland and arrived in Japan in 1653. He took the name Dokuryu when he became a monk under Ingen, the Chinese founder of Mampukuji, the Obaku Zen temple near Kyoto. The Obaku sect was influential in the spread of contemporary Chinese culture in Japan during the Edo period (1600-1868).

Dokuryu's cursive script shares characteristics with his Chinese contemporaries in the late Ming period and has a freedom and rhythm entirely its own, distinct from the calligraphic style of other Obaku Zen monk-calligraphers. The fluid brushwork seen here, with its contrast of wet and dry, light and dark ink, captures the typically irreverent Zen spirit of the inscription, which calls the subject (Daruma) "the old clot."

Monday, December 4, 2017

Jiun Sonja's 慈雲尊者 Calligraphy at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art has a piece of calligraphy of Onkō Jiun飲光慈雲 , Japanese, 1718 - 1804, commonly known as Jiun Sonja. It is the title of the Lotus Sutra. See below for detailed cataloging description.

Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law (Myōhō Renge-kyō)

Onkō Jiun飲光慈雲 , Japanese, 1718 - 1804

Made in Japan, Asia
Edo Period (1615-1868)
Late 18th century
Ink on paper; mounted as a hanging scroll
6 feet 9 inches × 26 1/2 inches (205.7 × 67.3 cm) Image: 48 7/16 × 22 5/8 inches (123 × 57.5 cm)
Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art
Object Location:
Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Credit Line:

Purchased with the Hollis Family Foundation Fund, 2002

One the most talented and individualistic of Edo period calligraphers, Jiun was trained as a Buddhist monk and became renowned for his studies of the Sanskrit language. Jiun's calligraphy is most influenced by the brushwork of the Öbaku Zen monks, known as bokuseki (ink traces), although he seems consciously to ignore the rules of calligraphy in his free and idiosyncratic handling of ink and brush. The five-character inscription of this calligraphy reads myöhö renge-kyö, or Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, referring to the canonical Buddhist text more popularly known simply as the Lotus Sutra.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Obaku Calligraphy by Hyakusetsu Genyō 百拙元養

Philadelphia Museum of Art has three pieces of calligraphy by the Japanese Obaku monk Hyakusetsu Genyō 百拙元養 (1668 - 1749). Hyakusetsu was Gaoquan Xingdun's 高泉性潡 dharma heir and was famous for painting and calligraphy. The three pieces were titled as "Three Poems" and their cataloging information is as follows:

Three Poems

Hyakusetsu Genyō, Japanese, 1668 - 1749

Made in Japan, Asia
Edo Period (1615-1868)
Late 17th - early 18th century
Ink on paper, mounted as a triptych of hanging scrolls
Exclusive of mount, each: 37 1/8 × 10 1/4 inches (94.3 × 26 cm)
Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art
Object Location:
Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Credit Line:
Purchased with funds donated by Andrea M. Baldeck, M.D., and William M. Hollis, Jr., 2008

One of the early major Obaku monks born in Japan, Hyakusetsu studied poetry, painting and tea ceremony in Kyoto, as well as Rinzai Zen Buddhism. He was well-respected among the aristocratic circles of Kyoto, as a leader in both religious and in cultural circles. He founded a new temple, Hozoji in Western Kyoto in 1733.

Hyakusetsu's calligraphy is characterized by strong contrasts between wet and dry brushwork. This triptych of scrolls is an homage to his spiritual roots in Rinzai Buddhism and his teacher, Hyakuju.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Meet Master Hsing Yun (Xing Yun) 星雲

I was glad to be invited to the 2017 Buddhist University President Forum 佛光山大學校長論壇 and meet Master Hsing Yun (Xing Yun) 星雲 in person. He is a great man and in good health. He came again to see us off when we were about to depart.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Calligraphy by Ōbaku Dokuryū (Duli Xingyi 獨立性易) at Philadelphia Museum of Art

 I came across a piece of calligraphy by Ōbaku Dokuryū  (Duli Xingyi 獨立性易, 1596 - 1672) at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Duli became Yinyuan's 隱元 disciple but never received his dharma transmission. The collection of his works has been published in Taiwan. The museum gives the following cataloging information.

Calligraphy of a Chinese Poem

Ōbaku Dokuryū, Chinese, 1596 - 1672

Made in Japan, Asia
Edo Period (1615-1868)
Late 17th century
Ink on paper; mounted as a hanging scroll
Image: 49 x 20 3/4 inches (124.5 x 52.7 cm) Mount: 70 3/4 x 24 5/8 inches (179.7 x 62.5 cm)
Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art
Object Location:
Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Credit Line:
Bequest of Elizabeth Prior Denis, 2003
Social Tags [?]
poetry [x]

Öbaku Dokuryü was a noted calligrapher and poet in his native China before he emigrated to Japan in 1653 to join the Öbaku Zen temple Mampuki-ji, near Kyoto, Japan. His elegant and flowing calligraphy style strongly influenced his Japanese literati contemporaries.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Chinese-style Chanting of the Heart Sutra by Japanese Obaku monks

When Yinyuan went to Japan in 1654, he also brought the Chinese-style chanting method to Japan which has been preserved in Manpukuji today. We heard the chanting during the summer of 2017. Here is an example of chanting the Heart Sutra in Chinese by Japanese Obaku monks. The Chinese pronunciation can be clearly heard.


Friday, October 20, 2017

A Comprehensive Online Bibliography of Obaku Works 黄檗宗叢書目録

We are grateful to Yōmeiji 永明寺 abbot Ven. Sumitani Ujō's 住谷瓜頂 for making A Comprehensive Online Bibliography of Obaku Works available for us. See 黄檗宗叢書目録 at

Saturday, October 14, 2017

New Book Announcement: Reinventing the Tripitaka: Transformation of the Buddhist Canon in Modern East Asia

I am glad to announce the publication of my new book:

Purchase Link:

The Chinese Buddhist canon is a systematic collection of all translated Buddhist scriptures and related literatures created in East Asia and has been regarded as one of the “three treasures” in Buddhist communities. Despite its undisputed importance in the history of Buddhism, research on this huge collection has remained largely the province of Buddhologists focusing on textual and bibliographical studies. We thus aim to initiate methodological innovations to study the transformation of the canon by situating it in its modern context, characterized by intricate interactions between East and West as well as among countries in East Asia. 
During the modern period the Chinese Buddhist canon has been translated, edited, digitized, and condensed as well as internationalized, contested, and ritualized. The well-known accomplishment of this modern transformation is the compilation of the Taisho Canon during the 1920s. It has become a source of both doctrinal orthodoxy as well as creativity and its significance has greatly increased as Buddhist scholarship and devotionalism has utilized the canon for various ends. However, it is still unclear what led to the creation of the modern editions of the Buddhist canon in East Asia. This volume explores the most significant and interesting developments regarding the Chinese Buddhist canon in modern East Asia including canon formation, textual studies, historical analyses, religious studies, ritual invention, and digital research tools and methods.

Jiang Wu and Greg Wilkinson
“The Reinvention of the Buddhist Tripitaka and the Rise of “Textual Modernity” in Modern East Asia”

Part 1 The Buddhist Canon Encounters the West
Jiang Wu
“Finding the First Chinese Tripitaka in the West: Early European Buddhology, the 1872 Iwakura Mission in Britain, and the Mystery of the Ōbaku Canon in the India Office Library”
Greg Wilkinson and Nicholas J. Frederick
“Inventing Buddhist Bibles in Japan: From Nanjō Bun’yū to Numata Yehan”

Part 2 Use and Utility of Modern Editions and Printings 

Kida Tomoo
“Ōtani Kozui’s Tripitaka Diplomacy in China and the Qing Dragon Canon at Ryūkoku University”
Gregory Adam Scott
“The 1913 Pinjia Canon and the Changing Role of the Buddhist Canon in Modern China”
Richard D. McBride II
“Bearing the Canon on the Crown of the Head: Jeongdae Bulsa and Worship of the Buddhist Canon in Contemporary Korean Buddhism”

Part 3 The Buddhist Canon in the Digital Age

Christian Wittern
“The Digital Tripitaka and the Modern World”
A. Charles Muller, Shimoda Masahiro, and Nagasaki Kiyonori
“The SAT Taishō Text Database: A Brief History”

Fang Guangchang
“Defining the Chinese Buddhist Canon: Its Origin, Periodization, and Future”

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Shunjū 春秋 2017 Special Issue on Obaku Studies

Recently, a special issue on Obaku Studies has been  published in the Japanese magazine Shunjū 春秋 with articles written by authorities in the field, including Tanaka Chisei's 田中智誠 essay on the Obaku studies in and outside Japan. A four-volume collection of Obaku sources is also published by Tokugen Kimura木村得玄.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Arizona Daily Wildcat report on the new Center For Buddhist Studies at the University of Arizona

New Center for Buddhist Studies created to spread and encourage Buddhism research

Published Sep 30, 2017 2:33pm
Updated Sep 30, 2017 2:33pm

By Vanessa Ontiveros

The College of Humanities recently debuted the new Center for Buddhist Studies.

The CBS will focus on fostering research into Buddhism and its effects, both in the past and present.

It will also provide a way to both encourage student research already being done on Buddhism and spread Buddhist ideas to students not yet involved, according to the center’s director, Dr. Jiang Wu.

“We’re very grateful to have the full support of the College of Humanities,” he said. “This is a deliberate, calculated effort to move us forward, the entire college.”

The center aims to change how the humanities are studied, making it a more collaborative field.

“The traditional type of humanities studies ... is just about yourself ... reading books, writing books, publishing papers,” Wu said. “It’s very weird for a group of humanities scholars to advance themselves, set up a center, to create a program to disseminate knowledge.”

The new center takes particular interest in aiding students involved in East Asian Studies. “We service degree programs, such as the Buddhist studies minor program, [and] we provide supervision for students,” Wu said.

The CBS, which boasts a healthy community of graduate students, wants to develop a stronger undergraduate aspect as well.

“For those interested in Buddhism, they can always find many interesting courses, lectures and activities offered by the center,” Nan Ouyang, a graduate assistant at the CBS and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies wrote in an email. “For those not [knowledgeable about] Buddhism, the center will open a new window for … them to know better of the diversity of the world.”

With study abroad opportunities available for students, most recently during the summer with trips to China and Bhutan, the center will invite guest speakers. It will also begin giving an annual Outstanding Student Award in Buddhist Studies, featuring a $1,500 prize.

As a non-academic unit, the CBS employs a private funding model through the acquisition of grants. Currently, the center is focused on trying to secure an endowment of five to seven million dollars a year, a figure which Wu feels is highly sustainable.

The Khyentse Foundation proved extremely generous in its contributions to CBS. The foundation already sponsored a Buddhist lecture series, as well as a future project in China for UA students.

“[CBS] offers new avenues for traditional research, including digital technologies. And because of the new Department of Applied humanities … it offers some rather unique opportunities for cross-fertilization of traditional approaches and contemporary ones,” said Dr. Albert Welter, head of the Department of East Asian Studies. The creation of the center comes at a time when Asian nations are among the biggest players on the global stage. China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world.

“We’re in the process of seeing how this newfound economic power of Asia is translating into political and cultural influence,” Welter said.

Not only is the Center for Buddhist Studies new to the UA, but it’s also new for the American Southwest. Though a handful of major universities sport similar centers on their campuses, the UA’s center is the first of it’s kind in the region.

Both Wu and Welter expressed excitement over the creation new center and its future.

“We’re going to do something amazing, although it has not yet happened,” Wu said. “This is a study of religion. First you have to believe.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Poet Henry Shukman and his Buddhist Lineage

Glad to have the award-winning poet Henry Shukman to give a talk at UA Center for Buddhist Studies. He belonged to Sanbo Kyodan (三宝教団 Sanbō Kyōdan, literally "Three Treasures Religious Organization") which was founded by the Japanese teachers Ryōkō Yasutani (安谷 量衡) and Hakuun Yasutani (安谷 白雲 Yasutani Haku'un, 1885–1973).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

University of Arizona Launches Center for Buddhist Studies

We are happy to announce the founding of Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Arizona.
See this special report at

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yinyuan's Mount Fuji Garden at Manpukuji

I was delighted to peek inside the East Abbot's Compound 東方丈 at Manpukuji when I visited Kyoto in early June 2017. If I am right, the garden is the famous Mount Fuji Garden Yinyuan built. Yinyuan felt deep affection towards Mount Fuji 富士山 and wrote several poems about it. See my another post Yinyuan and Mount Fuji.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meeting Thomas Kirchner at Hanazono and Rinzairoku Documents from Ruth Sasaki

Thanks to George Keyworth's arrangement, on June 2 2017 we visited Thomas Kirchner, an American Zen monk at Hanazono University International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism 花園大学国際禅学研究所. He has worked with Ruth Fuller Sasaki to translate Linji Yixuan's Record of Linji 臨濟錄, which is available for download from here. (I wrote a review of the book in. Journal of Chinese Religion, vol. 37 (2009): 133—138. ) He told us a lot of personal stories about working with Ruth Sasaki, Iriya Yoshitaka 入矢義高 , and Yanagida Seizan 柳田聖山(also known as Yokoi). He also showed us several binders of original translations and notes. These are all part of modern Zen history and need to be rescued from dust collecting.

Iriya Yoshitaka Notes to Rinzai roku, photo by Jiang Wu

Yanagida Seizan's note and translation, photo by Jiang Wu
Yanagida Seizan's note and translation, photo by Jiang Wu
Yanagida Seizan's note and translation, photo by Jiang Wu
Yanagida Seizan's note and translation, photo by Jiang Wu
Ruth Sasaki's note and translation, photo by Jiang Wu

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Obaku Exhibition at Manpukuji Bunkaden 黄檗山の名宝と河口慧海生誕152年記念・松本章男寄贈資料記念展

It was my great pleasure to attend the special Obaku Art Exhibition at Manpukuji Bunkaden 黄檗山の名宝と河口慧海生誕152年記念・松本章男寄贈資料記念展 which marked the 152th birthday of the Obaku monk-traveler Kawaguchi Ekai 河口慧海 and was supplemented by books donated by author and essayist Matsumoto Akio 松本章男. Although it was late, Tanaka Chisei 田中智誠 osho extended the exhibition for a week to allow me, Prof. Narusawa Katsushi 成澤勝嗣 and his students from Waseda University to see it. Many thanks to Tanaka san's guide and Ms. Yang Kuei-hsiang's 楊桂香 translation.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Special exhibition on Emperor Gomizunoo 後水尾天皇 at Furuta Oribe Art Museum 古田織部美術館

In June 2017, I visited a special exhibition on the influence of Furuta Oribe 古田織部 on Emperor Gomizunoo 後水尾天皇 and his wife at Furuta Oribe Art Museum 古田織部美術館. It is entitled "Oribe's Lingering Influence: Emperor Gomizunoo and Empress Tofukumonin" 織部の遺響~後水尾天皇と東福門院和子. The emperor married Tokugawa Hidetada's daughter Tokugawa Masako 徳川和子, also known as the Tōfuku mon-in 東福門院. The emperor was listed as Yinyuan's dharma heir through Yinyuan's Japanese disciple Ryukei Shosen 龍溪性潛 (1602-1670). I have discussions in my book Leaving for the Rising Sun. I also bought a ceramic tea cup made by Sasaki Jiro 佐々木二郎 from the museum.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Kongoji in Koyasan 天野山金剛寺

Photo by Jiang Wu
Photo by Jiang Wu

During our study tour in June 2017, we visited the Shingon temple Amanosan Kongoji 天野山金剛寺 to survey the location where a manuscript canon used to be stored. The temple has a long history and was founded by Emperor Shomu 聖武. It was said Kukai 空海 was trained here as well. The courtyard has a beautiful garden. About four thousand scrolls of manuscript texts are preserved and among them are rare copies. For a short review by OCHIAI Toshinori 落合俊典, see 日本の古寫經と中國佛教文獻 ― 天野山金剛寺藏平安後期寫 『優婆塞五戒經 の成立と流傳を巡って.

Amanosan kongoji zenpon sokan
Author: 後藤昭雄監修. 後藤, 昭雄, 後藤, 昭雄, 仁木, 夏実 中川, 真弓 ; ; Akio Goto; Natsumi Niki; Mayumi Nakagawa
Publisher: 勉誠出版, Benseishuppan.

Photo by Jiang Wu

Photo by Jiang Wu

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Jissō-in 実相院 and Emperor Gomizunoo 後水尾天皇

During our Kyoto tour in June 2017, we visited Jissō-in 実相院 in the Iwakura district. This is a small but beautiful temple with deep connection to the imperial household in early Edo period, especially with Emperor Gomizunoo 後水尾天皇 (Master Yinyuan's disciple and dharma heir) and his wife Tōfuku-mon'in 東福門院, formerly Tokugawa Masako (徳川和子, 1607–1678). I brought a replica of the Emperor's calligraphy. It was close to Iwakura Tomomi's old residence.

Here is a book on this place.
京都実相院門跡 /
Kyōto Jissōin Monzeki
Author: 編集宇野日出生. 宇野日出生, ; ; Hideo Uno; Jissōin (Kyoto, Japan); Kyōto-fu Kyōto Bunka Hakubutsukan,
Publisher: 思文閣出版, Kyōto-shi : Shibunkaku Shuppan, 2016.