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Siming Zhili and Tiantai Pure Land in the Song dynasty. (Volumes I and II)

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Author Getz, Daniel Aaron, Jr.
Broad Subject History
Summary This study examines the life and contributions of the Chinese Buddhist monk Siming Zhili (960-1028), a pivotal figure in the development of the Tiantai school. After its initial formulation by the monk Zhiyi in the sixth century, Tiantai doctrine and practice required rearticulation in subsequent eras as new texts, ideas, and schools appeared on the scene. This was done first by the monk Zhanran in the eighth century and by Zhili in the eleventh. Zhanran and Zhili both asserted the uniqueness of Tiantai vis-a-vis other schools, especially Chan and Huayan. Zhili was particularly prominent in this regard, carrying on a protracted debate with members of his own school whom he perceived to be compromising the Tiantai system by incorporating ideas from other schools. At the same time, Zhili sought to thoroughly integrate the doctrines and practices of Pure Land Buddhism into Tiantai. His dedication to Pure Land was manifested in his Tiantai scholastic writings, his personal practice, and his establishment of an association (society) for lay people.

The present study consists of two parts manifesting a dual aim. Part One is a biographical study that highlights Zhili's contributions to the Tiantai school and his engagement with Pure Land. Specific chapters deal with his Tiantai doctrinal stance, his institutional contributions, and his involvement in Pure Land practice and doctrine.Part Two examines the formation of his Pure Land society in the context of its predecessors and successors. The initial chapter, which explores the historical background of Pure Land societies, is followed by separate chapters devoted to the early Song societies ofShengchang, Zunshi, and Zhili respectively, and to the historical impact of Zhili's society. The Conclusion of this study examines the seeming incongruity between the Pure Land represented in Zhili's scholastic stance and that manifested in his involvement in popular devotion. This discrepancy in Zhili, revealing an age-old tension between Buddhist monastic and laic concerns, is examined in light of later developments in both Chinese and Japanese Pure Land that exhibit an increasing tendency to resolve this tension in favor of popular practice.

Language English
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