The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts Book

Heine, S, Wright, DS. (2006). The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts . 1-315. 10.1093/0195150678.001.0001

cited authors

  • Heine, S; Wright, DS



  • The Zen Canon offers learned but accessible studies of some of the most important classical texts in the tradition of Zen Buddhism. Each essay in the volume provides historical, literary, and philosophical commentary on a particular Zen text or genre of texts. Among the most prominent types of texts featured are Chan or Zen "recorded sayings" (yulu) texts, "transmission of the lamp" anthology texts (chuandenglu), koan collections, and "rules of purity" or monastic regulation texts. These canonical writings helped shape the overall conception of Zen Buddhism and the kinds of practices that have come to give Zen its identity. One theme of Zen Canon, therefore, is that the classical anti-textual posture of Zen Buddhism is not one that can be taken literally. While making fun of spiritual writing of all kinds, Zen Buddhists managed to produce one of the largest and most influential bodies of canonical texts in the world. Among the most famous Zen texts discussed in The Zen Canon are the Mazu yulu, the Lidai fabao ji, the Transmission of the Lamp Ching-te era, the Record of Hongzhi, the Wu-men kuan, and the Chanyuan qinggue.

publication date

  • February 1, 2006

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 315