Eloquent Zen: Daitō and Early Japanese Zen

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University of Hawaii Press, 1997 - Philosophy - 268 pages
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Zen master Daito (1282-1337) played a leading role in the transmission of Zen (Ch'an) from China to Japan. He founded Daitokuji, a major monastery that has been influential for centuries, and he provided interpretations of Chinese texts. Daito's traditional biography is full of vivid episodes, including his years among the beggars of Kyoto and ending with his dramatic death in the meditation posture. Despite his importance, however, Daito has remained virtually unknown in the West. With the publication of Eloquent Zen Kenneth Kraft offers the first comprehensive account of the life and teachings of one of the greatest of Japan's Zen masters. Dr. Kraft begins with the foundations of medieval Japanese Zen. He shows that Daito's predecessors were concerned with clarifying the essentials of Zen as it began to take root in Japan. During this formative phase, the Zen pioneers embraced varied conceptions of enlightenment and divergent notions of authenticity. Kraft places Daito's contributions within this context, offering new insights about early Japanese Zen and about Zen itself. Throughout this study, Kraft looks closely at the complex role of language in Zen--a tradition supposedly distrustful of words. Daito wrote haiku-like poetry, participated in brilliant dialogues, and delivered powerful sermons. His virtuosity in articulating the way of Zen, "beyond words, beyond silence, " is nowhere more apparent than in his use of the capping phrase, an interpretive and commentarial device unique to Zen. Analyzing Daito's use of this device, Kraft elucidates the significance of the literary and aesthetic dimensions of the Zen tradition. Eloquent Zen includes valuable translations of Daito's poetryand other writings. Illustrations include three classic portraits of Daito and rare examples of his calligraphy. This lucid and engaging study will interest scholars and nonspecialists interested in Zen, Japanese culture, and Asian philosophy, poetry, and related fields.
 

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Contents

Entering the World of Daito
1
Japan in the Early Fourteenth Century
10
Daitos Early Zen Training
26
Daitos two enlightenment verses
40
Daito as a beggar by Zen master Hakuin
44
The Foundations of Japanese Zen
48
Daito Ascendant at Daitokuji
65
Proclamation from Emperor Hanazono
80
His Tongue Has No Bones
151
Daitos Impact
168
Daitos death verse
170
Portrait of Daito
185
Translations
186
The Daito Corpus
209
Characters for Capping Phrases Cited
214
Location of Capping Phrases Cited
217

Enlightenment and Authenticity
83
Clarifying the Essentials of Zen
95
The Primacy of Awakening
113
Portrait of Daito
127
CappingPhrase Commentary in the Works of Daito
130
Notes
219
Glossary
241
Bibliography
249
Index
257
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Religion and Gender
Ursula King
No preview available - 1995

About the author (1997)

Kraft is chair of Religion Studies department at Lehigh University.

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