Peter Gregory: "Filling the Missing Link: Siṃha Bhikṣu and Zongmi's Construction of an Indian Chan Lineage"

Friday March 6th 2009, 4:15PM
Event Sponsor
Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford, The Department of Religious Studies
Encina Hall West, Room 208
Peter Gregory


The Fu fazang zhuan 付法藏傳 (T.2085, "Records of the Transmission of the Dharma Treasury") played an important role in early Chan attempts to construct an Indian lineage. At the same time, it also presented a major problem for Chan historiographers, since the transmission was explicitly said to have been cut off with the assassination of the twenty-third Indian patriarch, Siṃha Bhikṣu. My talk will explore how Zongmi's (780-841) unique solution to this problem was related to his larger project of reuniting the canonical tradition of textual scholarship and the Chan tradition of the practice of the mind. I will focus on how he traces this rupture in the eighth-ninth century Chinese Buddhist world back to India as part of his overall revisioning of Buddhist history in his General Preface to the Collected Writings on the Source of Chan (Chanyuan zhuquanji duxu 禪源諸詮集都序, T.2015, dtd 833).


Peter N. Gregory joined the faculty at Smith College as Jill Ker Conway of Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies in 1999. After receiving his doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1981, he taught in the Program for the Study of Religion at the University of Illinois for fifteen years. He has also served as the President and Executive Director of the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Human Values since 1984, and in that capacity he has directed two publication series with the University of Hawaii Press: "Studies in East Asian Buddhism" and "Classics in East Asian Buddhism." His research has focused on medieval Chinese Buddhism, especially the Chan and Huayan traditions during the Tang and Song dynasties, on which he has written or edited seven books, including Tsung-mi and the Sinification of Buddhism (1991). He is currently completing a translation of a ninth-century Chinese Buddhist text on the historical and doctrinal origins of the Chan tradition. Since coming to Smith, his research and teaching have become increasingly concerned with Buddhism in America, and he has recently coedited Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences (Wisdom Publications, 2007).