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Zen-History, Culture, Critique

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Zen: History, Culture, and Critique Harvard University Spring 2010 Instructor: James Robson, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations Office: 227 Phone: TBA email: jrobson@fas.harvard.edu Time: TBA Place: TBA Office Hours: TBA Course Description This course provides an introduction to the religious history, philosophy and practices of Zen Buddhism. Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan, which is itself a transcription of the Sanskrit word dhyâna, meaning medit
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  Zen: History, Culture, and Critique Harvard UniversitySpring 2010 Instructor: James Robson,Department of East Asian Languages and CivilizationsOffice: 227 Time: TBAPhone: TBA Place: TBAemail: jrobson@fas.harvard.edu Office Hours: TBA Course Description This course provides an introduction to the religious history, philosophy and practices of ZenBuddhism. Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan, which is itself atranscription of the Sanskrit word dhyâna , meaning meditation. While meditation is no doubt thebackbone of the Zen tradition, this course will highlight the fact that Zen has a number of different faces, including a radical antinomian side that challenged the role of meditation (and allforms of mediation). This course will examine the rich diversity of the Zen tradition as itdeveloped in China, Korea, and Japan, but will also track its movement to Europe and North andSouth America during the twentieth century. The first part of the course provides an overview of the historical development of Zen and situates it within the Buddhist tradition that it emerged outof. The second part of the course challenges and critically evaluates much of what is presented inthe first half by exploring some less well known facets of Zen practice that on first glance appear to run counter to what the Zen tradition says about itself. We will explore the role of language inZen from the enigmatic and abstruse use of  koans to questions about why a tradition which took pride in “not being dependent on words” nonetheless produced a voluminous textual record. Wewill study both the crazy antics of inspired Zen monks and the structured life of Zen monasticsand their rituals. Consideration will also be given to why a seemingly iconoclastic tradition likeZen also has a long tradition of venerating its masters, including some that were mummified.Why, we will ask, was Zen appealing to the Japanese warrior class and what was its role inmodern nationalistic movements in Japan during World War II? This course is designed to be asmuch an ongoing critical reflection on the history of the study of Zen as it is about Zen history. Summary of Course Requirements  Full attendance and active participation (20%), one take-home midterm quiz (40%), and one finalpaper (@10 pages) (40%). Active participation means being well prepared for each class andparticipating in class discussions. The paper topics may be chosen from those suggested by theProfessor, though students are encouraged to propose their own topics in consultation with theProfessor. Course Books and Readings Philip Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, 1967).Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind  (New York: Weatherhill, 1996).  Bardwell Smith ed., Unsui: Diary of a Monastic Life (Hawaii: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1973). Optional Background Reading : Rupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism , (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1998).The majority of the readings for this course are available in the form of articles provided in pdf format. Part One- Zen History Class 1 IntroductionClass 2 Zen in the West/The West in ZenReadings :ãFields, How the Swans Came to the Lake , pp. 195-224.ãAlan Watts “Beat Zen, Square Zen, Zen” Class 3 Zen Origins: Laying Claim to an Esoteric LineageReadings :ãZenkei Shibayama, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan , pp. 58-66.  Class 4 Intellectual Foundations of Zen: The Indian Context IReadings :ãStephen Beyer, The Buddhist Experience , p. 99-115. Recommended ãRupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism , Chapters1, 3, and 4.  Class 5 Intellectual Foundations of Zen I: The Indian Context IIReadings :ã The Diamond Sutra, ã The Vimalakirti Sûtra Chapter 3 Recommended ãRupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism , Chapters6, 8, and 9. Class 6 Intellectual Foundations of Zen: The Chinese ContextReadings :ãFrederick Mote, Intellectual Foundations of China , pp. 12-25and pp. 46-54.ãZhuangzi “Free and Easy Wandering” and “Discussion on Making AllThings Equal.” Class 7 Making Zen History: The Rise of Zen   Readings :ãDavid Chappell, “The Teachings of the Fourth Ch’anPatriarch Tao hsin (580-651).”ãSuzuki, “The History of Zen Buddhism from Bodhidharma to  Hui-Neng (Yenô).” Class 8 The Sixth Patriarch: The Hagiography of HuinengReadings : Philip Yampolsky, The Platform Sûtra of the Sixth Patriarch ,(skim) pp. 1-57, (read carefully), pp. 58-89 and 125-134. Class 9 The Sixth Patriarch: The Rhetoric and Practice of Suddenness   Readings :Philip Yampolsky, The Platform Sûtra of the Sixth Patriarch ,pp. 135-183 Class 10 The Sudden and Gradual Debate and Zen SoteriologyReadings : ãGregory, “Sudden Enlightenment Followed by GradualCultivation” [In class debate on the topic of “sudden” vs. “gradual”enlightenment]   Class 11 Interpreting Zen History: Hu Shi and D.T. SuzukiReadings :ãHu Shih, “Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History andMethod.”ãDaisetz Teitaro Suzuki, “Zen: A Reply to Hu Shih.” Part Two-Zen Culture  Class 12 Monasticism and The Place of PracticeReadings : ãT. Griffith Foulk, “Daily Life in the Assembly.”ãBardwell Smith, ed. Unsui (Entire) Principles and Practices of Zen [Documentary Screening]\Class 13 Zen Practice: MeditationReadings :ãSekida, Zen Training  , pp. 29-65ãCarl Bielefeldt trans. “Principles of Seated Meditation.” Recommended ã Carl Bielefeldt, “Practice” Class 14 Sôtô PracticeReadings : ∞ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind  [entire]ãCarl Bielefeldt trans. of Dôgen’s “Lancet of Seated Meditation.” Recommended : Conrad Hyers, “Once-Born Zen: Dôgen”  Class 15 Rinzai Practice  Readings :ãPhilip Yampolsky, The Zen Master Hakuin , “Orategama I,”pp. 29-73. Recommended : Conrad Hyers, “Born-Again Buddhism: Hakuin” Class 16 Zen Language I: Recorded SayingsReadings :ãBernard Faure, “Chan and Language: Fair and Unfair Language Games.”ã The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi , pp. 9-67.  Class 17 Zen Language II: Køans and Their CriticsReadings :ãRobert Buswell, “The ‘Short-cut’ Approach of K’an-huaMeditation.”ãSelections from The Sound of the One Hand    Class 18 The Language of Arts and GardensReadings : ã Levine and Lippet, “Introduction” to Awakeningsã Yamada Shôji, “Ryoan-ji” Class 19 Making the Zen MasterReadings :ãChang, Original Teachings of Ch’an Buddhism , pp. 129-163ãDôgen, “The Power of the Robe.” Class 20 Zen Tricksters and ThaumaturgesReadings :ãBernard Faure, “The Thaumaturge and Its Avatars,” (I) and(II).ãJung-kwang, The Mad Monk  Recommended : ãHyers, “Zen Masters and Clown Figures” Class 21 Sacred Remains: Zen Relics and MummiesReadings :ãRobert Sharf, “The Idolization of Enlightenment: On theMummification of Ch’an Masters in Medieval China.” Recommended ãFaure, “Substitute Bodies in Chan/Zen Buddhism.” Part Three-Zen Critique \  Class 22 Zen Funerary Rituals   Readings :ãWilliam M. Bodiford, “Zen in the Art of Funerals: RitualSalvation in Japanese Buddhism.”ãIan Reader, “‘. . . Die Buddhist’: Zen, Death and the Ancestors.”  

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