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What is ‘Zen’ diplomacy? From Chinese monk to ambassador

May 28, 2015

Excerpt from an OUPblog article published on May 27th, by Jiang Wu, Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia, which is now available on Oxford Scholarship Online.

Leaving for the Rising Sun

"In 1654, a Chinese monk arrived in Japan. His name was Yinyuan Longqi (1592-1673), a Zen master who claimed to have inherited the authentic dharma transmission—the passing of the Buddha’s teaching from teacher to student—from the Linji (Rinzai) sect in China. This claim gave him tremendous authority in China, as without it a Zen teacher cannot be considered for leading a Zen community.

Considering the long history of interactions between China and Japan, Chinese monks arriving in Japan with teachings, scriptures, relics and such were very common, and were welcomed by Japanese monks and rulers. Before Yinyuan, there were already eminent Chinese monks who had established themselves in Japan, and Yinyuan was simply one among many. So why was Yinyuan’s arrival so important?"


Discover more: Read about the significance of Yinyuan's arrival on the shores of Japan, and the impact it continues to have on Chinese and Japanese relations, in Jiang's article 'What is Zen diplomacy? From Chinese monk to ambassador'. The Introduction to Leaving for the Rising Sun is now free and available to read until the end of June. Get access to the full text of this book, as well as over 1,500 Oxford Religion titles, by recommending OSO to your librarian today. Jiang Wu also keeps a blog, 'Leaving for the Rising Sun'.