A Common Transmission Within the Teachings - Zen in Tendai Oral Transmission Materials


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


East Asian Philosophy


the Department of Indian and Buddhist Studies at the University of Tokyo


This project investigates discourses on “Zen” in a little studied corpus of medieval Japanese Tendai texts known as “Tendai oral transmissions”. It seeks to challenge the notion of a coherent and exclusive Zen orthodoxy in pre-modern Japan by understanding “Zen” as a label applied to various approaches to Buddhist practice and appropriated by numerous actors rather than teleologically identifying it with what would only later reify into the institutions of “orthodox Zen”. Leading to a fuller understanding of the evolving rather than static nature of the category “Zen”, it will contribute to a wider methodological debate regarding sectarian and canonical categories and their uses in East Asian Buddhist historiography.