How ‘Ch’an and Zen Teachings’ Came About


The three volumes entitled ‘Ch’an and Zen Teachings’ are the extensive translation of key Chinese Ch’an Buddhist texts extant within China and throughout the Chinese diaspora.  These volumes do not cover Japanese Zen Buddhism in anyway.  The title was a compromise between the translator Charles Luk, and his British publishers who actually wanted all references to Chinese Ch’an removed, and replaced with ‘Japanese Zen’ – creating the false (and inverse) impression that China practises a form of ‘Japanese’ Buddhism, when in fact it is Japanese ‘Zen’ that derived historically from Chinese Ch’an.  It was only after Charles Luk threatened to ‘pull out’ of the publishing contract, that Rider & Co offered a ‘compromise’ whereby both ‘Ch’an’ and ‘Zen’ were to be used in the title, with no further alterations to the translated texts contained therein.  However, the point of these Chinese Ch’an translations into English, was to be a ‘corrective’ to the post-WWII dominance of Japanese Zen in the West, and the often ‘corrupted’ interpretations offered by a number of so-called ‘Zen’ teachers.  Master Xu Yun (1840-1959), who had lived through the barbarous Japanese occupation of China, was of the opinion that the murderous Japanese behaviour was a direct result of that country abandoning the following of the Vinaya Discipline, and considering ‘lay people’ to be ‘ordained’ Buddhist monks, despite the fact they ate meat, drank alcohol, engaged in sexual activity, and routinely took life.  Even in Xu Yun’s autobiography (that highlights in parts, Japanese atrocities in China), the British publishers insisted that he be erroneously (and disrespectfully) referred to in the title as a Chinese ‘Zen’ master.  It must be understood that Master Xu Yun requested that Charles Luk ‘translate’ Chinese Ch’an texts as a ‘corrective’ to the deluded excess demonstrated by many Japanese Zen practitioners during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) in China, and elsewhere in the world.  Charles Luk’s work had absolutely ‘nothing’ to do with ‘Japanese Zen’, which is a separate and distinct subject of no historical or cultural relevance to the people of China.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s