CEAS Co-Sponsored the Annual Meeting of AOSWB

Oct. 25, 2022

CEAS is proud to co-sponsor this year's conference of American Oriental Society Western Branch (AOSWB). The meeting was held November 3-5 at the University of Arizona, Tucson. 

Our co-director, Dr. Scott Gregory, serves as an elected member on the executive committee of WBAOS. He will be the chair of the panel "The Qing: Gender and Narrative," happening 8:30-10:30 am, Nov 5, at Kachina Room. 

Graduate students from the Department of East Asian Studies presented the following papers on the conference: 

Zhang, Lu (University of Arizona), “Peeling off a Wrathful Appearance: Nezha in Chinese Chan Historiographies”
This paper focuses on Nezha as a Buddhist ideal in a special section titled “Sages and Worthies as Buddhist Incarnations'' (abbr: Incarnation section) in the Wudeng huiyuan, a Southern Song Chan historiography compiled in the Lingyin monastery in Hangzhou. The Incarnation section incorporated a group of non-Chan figures and upheld them as Chan ideals, from which one can discern the Chan school’s attentions on and reactions to the contemporaneous ideological currents. Since Nezha was the only new figure in the anthologized Incarnation section in the Wudeng huiyuan, my main research question is what made the compiler add Nezha to this list? To answer this question, I examine various sources from Indian myths to Chinese Buddhist scriptures and Chan literature, by which I delineate the process of domesticating this Indian demon king to Chinese folk deity. My research shows that the image of Nezha was largely enriched and constantly adapted in different contexts in the Song dynasty. Especially in the Southern Song, Nezha was recruited in the Taoist pantheon and popular in folk culture, and his story even became an allusion introduced to literary theory and art criticism. I propose that his great popularity was the reason that the Chan compiler promoted Nazha as a Chan ideal. In a broader picture, I argue that the Incarnation section was an important yet undervalued source to study the Chan history as it presents how the Chan school shifted its strategy to claim superiority in the Buddhist conventions or even in the entire ideology.

Liu, Yi (University of Arizona), “Revitalizing Local Knowledge: Literati’s Portrayal of the Three Tianzhu Monasteries”
Located in Hangzhou, the Three Tianzhu Monasteries are influential in bringing about certain symbols of Hangzhou Buddhist culture, such as incense market and Three-live Stone. Extant records written by local literati leave an interesting trace of the process by which these symbols were created and linked to the monastery sites. By scrutinizing local gazetteers, literary works, and stone carvings, this paper focuses on local literati’s depiction of the Three Tianzhu Monasteries from twelfth to seventeenth centuries, when local gazetteer rose to be a popular genre and supported the production of local knowledge. With an analysis of local literati’s approach of reimagining the past to interpret the present, this paper seeks to examine Buddhist monasteries’ role in reinventing local knowledge and shaping collective memories.

Zhang, Yuyu (University of Arizona), “Illusory Substances: Figure Paintings in Chan Texts and Monasteries during the Song”
Chan monks of the Song dynasty (960-1279) revitalized the genre of “portrait eulogy” (zhenzan 真贊/xiangzan 像/相贊) and gradually shaped it as a separate category added to the defining Song Chan literary form——the recorded sayings (yulu 語錄). As a genre incorporating poetry, painting, and calligraphy, in which senior Buddhist clerics gave autographic verse commentaries on figure paintings, portrait eulogy represented an ideal Song literary culture and accorded with the fondness and aspiration of Song literati bureaucrats. Through examining Chan yulu texts of different periods of the Song, this article explores the historical development of “portrait eulogy,” suggesting its maturity in the Southern Song, during which this genre was subdivided, and the Chan pantheon reflected in the eulogies was considerably augmented which encompassed a variety of traditional and unconventional iconographies: patriarchs, Buddhas, bodhisattvas, arhats, lay Buddhists, and wandering sages (sansheng 散聖). Furthermore, this article argues that portrait eulogy was not merely literary embellishments of yulu texts but practiced and utilized in the Song monastic life. In addition to yulu texts, a close reading of Chan monastic codes and Chan miscellanea in the Song reveals the multiple functions of figure paintings in ritual ceremonies, Dharma instruction and spiritual practice, presentation and recognition of spiritual attainment, property accumulation, and social contacts. Lastly, by analyzing the textual and practical dimensions of portrait eulogy, this article takes images as a window into the transformation of Chan Buddhism during the Song. The images suggest the shift of Buddhist authority from Indian Buddhas to Chinese patriarchs, particularly the living abbots of the imperial-supported public monasteries and the translocation of Indian bodhisattvas and arhats to the southern region of China with Hangzhou 杭州 as the center. In addition, the images evince the increasing tendency of secularization of Chan Buddhism during the Southern Song, attuned to the time's temper and the Hangzhou region's cultural climate.

Zeng, Xinrui (University of Arizona), “Constructing a Sacred Site Overseas: The History of Rujing Stūpa in Hangzhou”
As one of the most prosperous cities in China since the 10th century, Hangzhou has long played the role of a Buddhist center, where significant monasteries and prestigious priests clustered. As a result, in today’s Hangzhou, we can still find abundant sacred sites related to Buddhist figures and myths. Besides the religious value for pilgrims, however, we should notice that the formation of sacred sites is often a process participated by multiple communities with different intentions. In this sense, a sacred site is a great historical source for analyzing and understanding the activities of certain religious groups. This research focuses on a special example of the sacred sites in Hangzhou – the Rujing Stūpa at Jingci Monastery. It was reportedly a tomb built in regard to a Chan monk Tiantong Rujing(1163-1228), whose Japanese disciple Dōgen later became a major Sōto patriarch in Japan. By analyzing the historical documents in Chinese and Japanese, I will prove how such a site is in fact a modern construction that at best symbolizes Rujing’s trajectory in Hangzhou. Moreover, this site was founded in the environment of the crisis of Japanese Buddhism after the Meiji Restoration, and it was loaded with sectarian intentions. In the Chinese context, the Rujing Stūpa is but a memorial for an eminent monk; Yet for the Sōto priests who led the construction, this site works as an emblem of the authenticity of the Sōto lineage in Japan. This research suggests that a sacred site with international contributors is the epitome of transnational religious interactions. Therefore, from the historical analyses of such sites, we can better picture the transnational dynamics of East Asian Buddhism.

Torowicz, Steve (University of Arizona), “From Alchemy to Anatomy: The Arcane Thought of Myōan Eisai 明菴栄西”
Myōan Eisai 明菴栄西 was a Japanese Buddhist monk of the 12th and 13th centuries. Eisai is customarily most notable for not only the introduction of Zen to Japan, but also for his book of tea, the Kissa Yōjōki 喫茶養生記; both being associated with his modest reputation. Eisai is celebrated as both a figure of Zen and Esoteric Buddhism. However, his thought goes beyond the conventional lines of both these disciplines. His persistent association with these two traditions has eclipsed one of the more unique aspects of his peculiarity: the arcane. This mysteriousness stems from the fact that his book of tea, the Kissa Yōjōki, was written in response to the degenerative age of the Dharma: Mappō. It is a book filled with esoteric ideas, and the mystery deepens when we learn that several of its therapeutic modalities are cited from texts which no longer survive. Furthermore, when we scrutinize Eisai’s vision of tea, it is far-removed from what we think of this beverage today. Long consumed for both health and pleasure in China, Eisai’s language surrounding this herb invoke visions of the miraculous, mysterious and the mystical. For Eisai, tea was a magical elixir to halt the degradation of not only the individual but also the collective in this degenerative age of the Dharma. But it was not only the consumption of tea which was needed to thwart disease in this era. It was to be used in conjunction with a visionary anatomical regiment of the body: visceral visualization. This visualization method had its roots in China, but it was uniquely molded and adapted in such a way where it is now exclusive to only Eisai’s text. Although Eisai extolled various therapeutics in is Kissa Yōjōki, the present discussion will introduce the audience to Eisai’s more arcane thoughts on tea and then narrow its focus on his particular type of anatomical introspection. From this analysis, we will witness a unique vision of health in which Eisai fuses Esoteric Buddhist thought, Chinese medical philosophy, and Daoist alchemical imagery. It is the hope from this discussion we will begin to think of Eisai as neither defined by Zen or Esoteric Buddhism, but simply as a Buddhist interested in the esoteric and arcane.

Xing, Yang (University of Arizona), “Chan Buddhism in Contemporary China: A Revolution against the Kanhua Tradition”
Kanhua (“observing the phrase”) is a type of intensive Chan meditation on a given phrase. It was initiated by the twelfth century monk Dahui Zonggao and later rose to become the most definitive practice in Chinese Chan Buddhism. Even when Buddhism in general faced unprecedented challenges brought by China’s turbulent transition to modernity during the beginning years of the Republican era, this tradition of kanhua Chan surprisingly survived with even greater vitality with the advocacy of eminent Chan monks such as Xuyun and Laiguo. The centuries-old supremacy of kanhua Chan, however, was finally being challenged in the second half of the twentieth century. It was in this period a group of rising lay Chan teachers established themselves as alternative authority to the traditional monastic Chan. They distinguished themselves from their predecessors and contemporaries by firmly rejecting the kanhua method in favor of other practices. This paper studies this group of lay teachers and their revolution against the kanhua tradition by focusing on two representative members, Yuanyin (1905-2000) and Geng-yun (1924-2000). Utilizing their anthologies and audio recordings, I demonstrate how they saw kanhua Chan as an outdated practice that will no longer function in the hectic modern world. In their attempt to revitalize Chan Buddhism and benefit more people, these two encouraged alternative practices and argued for their superiority over the kanhua method. Overall, my study reveals a less noticed side of modern Chinese Buddhism by focusing on the lay teachers and their contribution to the development of contemporary Chan Buddhism. 

Yao, Huiqiao (University of Arizona), “Recasting Zhu Xi in Wang Yangming’s Lineage: Shengxue zongzhuan (Orthodox Transmission of the Learning of the Sages) and Zhou Rudeng’s Textual Practice”
“I transmit but do not create” (Analects 7:1)—even though Confucius made this claim, he was the actual “creator” who endowed classical texts with new meanings. Similar to Confucius’ practice of quoting classics to express his own worldview, Wang Yangming’s (1472-1529) disciple Zhou Rudeng (1547-1629) quoted extensively from extant Confucian canon and recorded sayings in his Confucian genealogical work Shengxue zongzhuan (Orthodox Transmission of the Learning of the Sages) to defend Wang’s legitimacy. This practice also belongs to the textual practices in late Ming book culture when editors reused and appropriated published materials to serve their own purposes. Although Zhou’s genealogy was compiled to endorse Wang’s “School of Mind” in the Confucian lineage, the incorporation of Zhu Xi (1130-1200), an inevitable figure in the Confucian genealogy because of the imperial sponsorship during the Ming, posed a task for Zhou since Zhu and Wang held contrasting views in many aspects of their thoughts. As a result, Zhou Rudeng appropriated the meaning of Zhu’s texts in his textual practice by incorporating Wang’s works, stretching Zhu’s interpretations, and adding his views from the perspective of the “School of Mind.” This paper starts with the introduction of the textual practice during the Ming, then goes to the lineage discourse in Zhou’s Shengxue zongzhuan. In the end, the paper delves into Zhu Xi’s biography in Zhou’s volume and explores the way Zhou quoted Zhu’s works. Through the analysis, I argue that Zhou’s textual practice plays a major role in recasting Zhu into Wang Yangming’s genealogical world order.

Li, Xiaoxuan (University of Arizona): “Daydreams of Beauty”
The one prominent feature of women literati of the late Ming is probably the increasing connections they started to share with other women literati from their families or of the same region. By the time of the late Ming and early Qing, under the influence of poetry clubs formed by male literati of late Ming, women literati also started to form poetry clubs where they share poems with each other. For example, The Banana Garden Poetry Club (蕉園詩社) during the early Qing. Serval decades before the formation of the formal women’s poetry club, women literati has already shared works with each other within a more intimate scope, such as family. The most influential example would be a group of women literati from the Ye Family and their female friends in the Jiangnan region during the late Ming. Some of their connection through poems was preserved in the anthology Collection of the Hall of Daydreams 午梦堂集 by Ye Shaoyuan 葉紹袁in the memory of his talented wife Shen Yixiu 沈宜修 (1590-1635) and daughters. Much of the existing research about this anthology focus on the works of Shen Yixiu and her daughters. In this research, I would like to map out the connections of those talented women as a way to have a clearer view of their connections and to investigate more into the influence of such connections may have had on the works of this group of women literati centering on Shen Yixiu.

A full program of the conference is attached.