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The Record of Linji

The Record of Linji

EDITED BY Thomas Yūhō Kirchner
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  • Book Info
    The Record of Linji
    Book Description:

    The Linji lu (Record of Linji) has been an essential text of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism for nearly a thousand years. A compilation of sermons, statements, and acts attributed to the great Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan (d. 866), it serves as both an authoritative statement of Zen’s basic standpoint and a central source of material for Zen koan practice. Scholars study the text for its importance in understanding both Zen thought and East Asian Mahayana doctrine, while Zen practitioners cherish it for its unusual simplicity, directness, and ability to inspire. One of the earliest attempts to translate this important work into English was by Sasaki Shigetsu (1882–1945), a pioneer Zen master in the U.S. and the founder of the First Zen Institute of America. At the time of his death, he entrusted the project to his wife, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, who in 1949 moved to Japan and there founded a branch of the First Zen Institute at Daitoku-ji. Mrs. Sasaki, determined to produce a definitive translation, assembled a team of talented young scholars, both Japanese and Western, who in the following years retranslated the text in accordance with modern research on Tang-dynasty colloquial Chinese. As they worked on the translation, they compiled hundreds of detailed notes explaining every technical term, vernacular expression, and literary reference. One of the team, Yanagida Seizan (later Japan’s preeminent Zen historian), produced a lengthy introduction that outlined the emergence of Chinese Zen, presented a biography of Linji, and traced the textual development of the Linji lu. The sudden death of Mrs. Sasaki in 1967 brought the nearly completed project to a halt. An abbreviated version of the book was published in 1975, but neither this nor any other English translations that subsequently appeared contain the type of detailed historical, linguistic, and doctrinal annotation that was central to Mrs. Sasaki’s plan. The materials assembled by Mrs. Sasaki and her team are finally available in the present edition of the Record of Linji. Chinese readings have been changed to Pinyin and the translation itself has been revised in line with subsequent research by Iriya Yoshitaka and Yanagida Seizan, the scholars who advised Mrs. Sasaki. The notes, nearly six hundred in all, are almost entirely based on primary sources and thus retain their value despite the nearly forty years since their preparation. They provide a rich context for Linji’s teachings, supplying a wealth of information on Tang colloquial expressions, Buddhist thought, and Zen history, much of which is unavailable anywhere else in English. This revised edition of the Record of Linji is certain to be of great value to Buddhist scholars, Zen practitioners, and readers interested in Asian Buddhism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6497-2
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    Yamada Mumon

    Indian Buddhism Is distinctly contemplative, quietistic, and inclined to speculative thought. By contrast, Chinese Buddhism is practical and down-to-earth, active, and in a sense transcendental at the same time. This difference reflects, I believe, the national characters of the two peoples. Zen, the name given to the Buddhism the first Zen patriarch Bodhidharma brought with him to China when he came from India, proved well suited to the Chinese mentality, and achieved a remarkable growth and development in its new environment. An Indian would no doubt find incredible the Chinese Zen master Baizhang’s famous saying, “A day of no work...

  4. Preface to the 1975 Edition
    (pp. IX-XII)
    Furuta Kazuhiro
  5. Editor’s Prologue
    (pp. XIII-XXX)

    Ruth Fuller Sasaki’s translation of theLinji luwas one of the first Zen texts I encountered after starting Zen practice in Japan in the early 1970s. Even prior to the publication of the Institute for Zen Studies’ 1975 edition (see Furuta Kazuhiro’s Preface), typescripts of the translation, minus the notes, had found their way to Western Zen students attending retreats at Ryūtaku-ji 龍澤寺, a Rinzai Zen monastery south of Mount Fuji that was at the time a popular place of practice with foreigners. It was there, at the November 1970 retreat (the first Zen retreat I ever attended), that...

  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. XXXI-XXXII)
  7. The Record of Linji

    • The Recorded Sayings of Chan Master Linji Huizhao of Zhenzhou
      (pp. 3-56)

      The Prefectural Governor, Councilor Wang, along with the other officials, requested the master to address them. The master took the high seat in the Dharma Hall and said:

      “Today, I, this mountain monk, having no choice in the matter, have perforce yielded to customary etiquette and taken this seat. If I were to demonstrate the Great Matter in strict keeping with the teaching of the ancestral school, I simply couldn’t open my mouth and there wouldn’t be any place for you to find footing. But since I’ve been so earnestly entreated today by the councilor, why should I conceal the...

  8. Historical Introduction and Commentary

    • Historical Introduction to The Record of Linji
      (pp. 59-116)
      Yanagida Seizan

      TheLinji lu(Record of Linji), a compilation of the recorded sermons, statements, and actions of the Tang-dynasty Chan priest Linji Yixuan (d. 866),¹ forms the central text of the Linji school of Chan. This school rose to prominence within a century of Linji’s death, owing not only to the stature of Linji himself but also to the contributions of the master’s many eminent successors. In the ensuing centuries the school’s increasing importance throughout East Asia brought a widespread acclaim to theLinji lu, by then accepted as an authoritative statement of the Linji school’s basic spirit and as one...

    • Commentary
      (pp. 117-346)
      Ruth Fuller Sasaki

      Huizhao Chanshi 慧照禪師,“Meditation Master of Illuminating Wisdom,” is the imperially conferred posthumous title of the master usually known as Linji Yi xuan 臨濟義玄. The name Linji derives from Linji yuan 臨濟院, the master’s temple on the Hutuo 滹沱 River in Zhenzhou 鎮州, an area in the central part of the present Hebei 河北 region. See the Introduction for additional biographical material; also ZD, 154–157.

      Huiran of Sansheng. See page 100, n. 36.

      Prefectural Governor, Councilor Wang, Fuzhu Wang Changshi 府主王常侍. See the Introduction, page 96, n. 20 for a discussion of his titles.

      To address is a free translation...

  9. Chinese Text

    • 鎮州臨濟慧照禪師語錄
      (pp. 349-364)

      府主王常侍、與諸官請師升座。師上堂云、山僧今日事不獲已、曲順人 情、方登此座。若約祖宗門下、稱揚大事、直是開口不得、無爾措足處。 山僧此日以常侍堅請、那隱綱宗。還有作家戰將、直下展陣開旗麼。對眾 證據...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 365-436)
  11. List of Personal Names
    (pp. 437-450)
  12. Cumulative Index
    (pp. 451-486)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 487-488)