This is a study of the Northern Sung monk, Ch'i-sung (1007-1072), the type of Ch'an Buddhism that he practiced, and the form of syncretism for which he stood. Through an in-depth examination of Ch'i-sung's life and thoughts, this study attempts to uncover some neglected facts of Confucian-Buddhist interaction and discuss the nature of syncretism in eleventh-century China as represented by Ch'i-sung. It also attempts to bridge the gap that recent studies leave between later T'ang and Southern Sung and broaden our understanding of Buddhism from a historical perspective.
This study consists of two major parts. The first attempts to discuss the character and significance of Ch'an Buddhism in the intellectual life of eleventh-century Sung society. It also evaluates Ch'i-sung who, as a syncretist of the three teachings, took a leading role in the world of Yun-men Ch'an Buddhism. It, too, provides a history of Ch'an Buddhism--its rise to prominence in the T'ang Dynasty and its continuance as a major school of Sung Buddhism. Attention is focused on the relatively favorable intellectual milieu of the early Sung that allowed Ch'an Buddhism to grow and receive imperial patronage so quickly.
The second part discusses Ch'i-sung's life and writings, focusing on his ambitious plan to seek official patronage and imperial support as a way of institutionalizing Ch'an Buddhism. Emphasis is placed on the ways in which he took up the work of reconfirming patriarch lineage and establishing orthodox status for Ch'an Buddhism. This part of the study also examines his argument about the twenty-eight western and five eastern Ch'an patriarchs, his interpretations of "special transmission outside scripture" and "no dependence on words and letters," as well as his advocacy of the "Platform Sutra School." Finally, this section discusses his syncretic views of the three teachings, his use of the three teachings as an integral system to interpret Confucianism and defend Buddhism, and his accomplishment in formulating and theorizing Buddhist-Confucian syncretism.