“Literary Remaking and Historical Transformation of the Religious Persona(s) of Chan Teacher Mazu Daoyi," a talk by Prof. Mario Poceski (University of Florida)
The lecture explores the larger issues of historical remembrance and religious (re)imagination within the Chan tradition of late medieval Chinese Buddhism, by looking at significant hagiographic portrayals of Mazu Daoyi (709-788). The varied sources about Mazu and other Chan teachers from the Tang era (618–907) reveal remarkable diversity and complexity, incorporating a mélange of elements that span the elitist and the popular. They also point towards the considerable fluidity and cumulative embellishment that characterized Chan’s evolving self-representations, which revolved around the lively images of its leading patriarchs. The lecture shows how as generations of Chan teachers and writers articulated diverse visions of Chan orthodoxy, they attributed aspects of their religious outlooks and ideological agendas back to Mazu and his prominent disciples, thereby transforming their religious personas in light of ever-changing religious perspectives and institutional predicaments. In addition to Mazu’s depictions as a classic Chan iconoclast, which have dominated traditional and modern accounts of his life and teachings, the lecture also explores the largely ignored representations of Mazu as a thaumaturge and a teacher of Buddhist doctrine.
Mario Poceski is an associate professor of Buddhist studies and Chinese religions at the Religion Department, University of Florida. He received a PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures, with specialization in Buddhist studies, from the University of California, Los Angeles (2000). He also spent extended periods as a visiting researcher at Komazawa University, Japan, Stanford University, and the National University of Singapore. A specialist in the history of Chinese Buddhism and a recipient of several prestigious fellowships, his latest books are Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism (Oxford UP 2007) and Introducing Chinese Religions (Routledge 2009). Poceski’s publications also include two other books and a number of articles and chapters on various aspects of Buddhist studies. Presently he is working on two new books: The Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism (forthcoming from Blackwell), and The Records of Mazu and the Makings of Classical Chan Literature.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies
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