This introductory chapter discusses the main focus of the book — the Hongzhou school, which, under the leadership of Mazu Daoyi (709-788) and his disciples, replaced the various traditions of early Chan and dominated the Chan movement for nearly a century, from around the aftermath of the An Lushan rebellion (755-763) until after the Huichang-era (841-845) persecution of Buddhism. As Mazu and his leading disciples came to occupy central positions within the Chan movement, stories about their spiritual exploits became prominent in traditional Chan lore. An overview of the chapters included in this volume is presented.
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