In recent decades, scholars such as John McRae, Griffith Foulk, and Bernard Faure have argued that the Tang period (618–907) “golden age” of Chan Buddhism, as we have come to see it, was, in many ways, an illusion created by later Buddhist authors who carefully crafted the textual record to glorify their predecessors and enhance their own status. It has also been asserted that our fascination with the Tang has blinded us to the real glories (institutional, intellectual, literary, and doctrinal) of the Chan school during the Song dynasty (960–1279). But to date, most scholarly endeavors have been devoted to deconstructing the key texts of Tang dynasty Chan, revealing them as literary creations of a subsequent age and not the eyewitness accounts of enlightened, iconoclastic Chan masters that they purport to be. So far, little work has been done on Song dynasty Chan. One reason for the delay seems to...

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