'The Last Light of Indian Buddhism' - The Monk Zhikong in 14th Century China and Korea
AuthorDziwenka, Ronald James
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation investigates the northeast Indian Buddhist Monk, Dhyanabhadra (Zhikong, Kor. Jigong, Sunyadisaya, ca. 1289-1364 C.E.). He began his more than a decade of study in the Nalanda Mahavihara education system late in the 13th century, and then at the age of nineteen began a journey to the east and a life that would lead to him being known as "the last light of Indian Buddhism" in East Asia.This study is inspired by two goals. One is to retrace the formation, dissemination and reception of his thought and soteriological paradigm of practice from his native state of Magadha, then Sri Lanka, and then throughout India, Yuan China and Goryeo Korea. The other is it explicate the main elements and concepts of his thought and present them to the academic community.I examine Zhikong's thought through my translations and discussions of key passages from three primary source texts on him, as well as other writings, in order to situate his Buddhist thought and practice within the historical context of Buddhism in the Yuan capital and Goryeo. I propose that Zhikong's representative paradigm of practice, based on the "(neither arising nor) non-arising precepts (wusheng jie)" system, emphasized a socio-ethical approach that viewed the realization of awakening as available to the laity as well as monks. He was especially attracted to minoritized or marginalized peoples in Yuan society, specifically members of the Goryeo expatriate community in the Yuan capital of Dadu (Beijing). I argue that the elements and concepts of Zhikong's representative "(neither arising nor) non-arising precepts" system more closely resemble those of late-Goryeo Buddhism's "bodhisattva precepts" system than those of Yuan-period Chinese Chan's "pure rules of Chan" precepts system.
Degree ProgramEast Asian Studies