SOCS 604
Zen in Japan: Dogen and the History of Zen Buddhism

William Johnston       

Goals and Method

The goals of this course are primarily to provide an introduction to the basics of Buddhist thought and practice, examine briefly the foundations of early Buddhism, and then to trace the emergence and development of Chan Buddhism in China and its transformation into Zen Buddhism in Japan.  The focus will be on the historical contexts of Chan and Zen, keeping in mind the possible tensions that can exist between religious practice and historical understanding.  

The main method used will be close readings of both primary and secondary texts.  After looking at the foundations of Buddhism, we will read the Heart Sutra and a commentary on it, the historical works of Bodhidharma, and the Diamond and Platform Sutras.  This will provide a grounding for a discussion of critical secondary texts on Chan and of the foundations and growth of Japanese Zen.  The case of Japanese Zen will focus on the example of Dôgen and the Sôtô sect, which are often less well-known in the United States than the Rinzai sect. 

Students will be asked to write short response papers and a more in-depth research paper.  Research papers will be ongoing, and I will work with you closely on an individual or small group basis with them.

Evaluations

1.         Class attendance is mandatory. (20% of grade.)  

2.         Two response papers.  (30% of grade.)  These will be up to five pages in length, with guidelines to be established before the second class.  On the weeks that students present a response paper, they will also be asked to make a presentation at the beginning of the class on the week’s reading.  When more than one person is presenting, coordination will be helpful (a phone call is sufficient). 

3.         Final research paper, to 15 pp. in length.  (50% of grade.)  The goal of this paper is to allow the exploration of a specific topic in depth.  A schedule will be established by the second class for discussion of topics, handing in of research statement and bibliography, a first draft (for peer review), and a final paper.  Students will be required to make a presentation of their final project in class.

Books for Purchase

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught

Red Pine, The Heart Sutra

Jeffrey L. Broughton, The Bodhidharma Anthology

The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-neng (Shambhala Classics)

John R. McRae, Seeing Through Zen

Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist

Steven Heine, Did Dôgen To to China?

Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds

Course Schedule
Part I: Historical Context & Foundations of Chinese Chan
Week 1

History & Practice of Chan & Zen: A Historic Dialogue           

Hu Shih, “Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method”(JSTOR)
Daisetz Suzuki, “Zen: A Reply to Hu Shih.” (JSTOR)
Bernard Faure, “Chan/Zen Studies in English: The State of the Field”
http://scbs.stanford.edu/resources/bibliography/faure/zen_studies.html

Week 2

Foundations, Part 1.  The Historical Buddha & Buddhist Essentials

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught

Week 3

Foundations, Part 2.  The Heart Sutra

Red Pine, The Heart Sutra 

Week 4

The “First Patriarch” of Zen

Jeffrey L. Broughton, The Bodhidharma Anthology

Week 5

Two Key Chan Texts

The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-neng

Week 6

A Critical Perspective on The History of Ch’an: Lineage & Faith

John R. McRae, Seeing Through Zen

Part II: From Chan to (Soto) Zen
Week 7

Thinking about Dôgen Today: History, Practice, Criticism

William R. LaFleur, “Dôgen in the Academy,” in Dôgen Studies.  (ERes)
Carl Bielefeldt, “Recarving the Dragon: History and Dogma in the Study of Dôgen,” in Dôgen Studies.  (ERes)
Steven Heine, Did Dôgen Go to China?, pp. 5-87.

Week 8

More Critical Perspectives on Dôgen; Dôgen in His Own Words

Carl Bielefeldt, “Dôgen Studies in America”
http://scbs.stanford.edu/resources/
Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist, pp. 3-11.
Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds, pp. ix-xliv, 3-27, 32-43.

Week 9

Dôgen’s Early Writings

Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist, pp. 13-49.
Heine, Did Dôgen Go to China?, pp. 91-132.           
Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds, pp. 29-31, 40-43.

Week 10

Dôgen’s Development in Kyoto

Heine, Did Dôgen Go to China?, pp. 133-153.
Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist, pp. 51-106.
Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds, pp. 47-113.

Week 11

From Kyoto to Echizen

Heine, Did Dôgen Go to China?, pp. 155-187.
Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist, pp. 107-175.
Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds, pp. 114-206.

Week 12

Monastic Life as Enlightenment

Heine, Did Dôgen Go to China?, pp. 189-230.
Hee-Jin Kim, Eihei Dôgen, Mystical Realist, pp. 177-238.
Kazuaki Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds, pp. 209-279.

Week 13

Discussions of Research Projects

We will use this to discuss final projects and to wrap up discussions of outstanding topics of common interest.

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