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Buddhist Notions Of Succession And Transmission In India And Pre-Chan China

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Chapter Summary

The idea of religious lineage, of claiming "spiritual" descent and thus authority from particular religious figures, is only one element in Chinese Buddhism, but it is an important one. The widespread acceptance of religious lineage has shaped not only institutions but the fundamental self-conception of many groups. Many different cultural sources and historical situations have contributed to the development of religious lineage, and this chapter considers the most crucial sources and circumstances. Religious lineage emerged in several forms of medieval Chinese Buddhism and is, the author argues, a widespread phenomenon of which Chan lineage is but one, albeit prominent, form. In early Indian Buddhism some resonances with lineage in Chinese Buddhism as well as some attempts at describing authority that Chinese Buddhists incorporated into their later development of the concept of lineage.

Keywords: Chan lineage; Chinese Buddhism; Indian Buddhism; religious lineage

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