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Another Look at Early Chan: Daoxuan, Bodhidharma, and the Three Levels Movement

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As one of the earliest records pertaining to Bodhidharma, Daoxuan's Xu gaoseng zhuan is a crucial text in the study of so-called Early Chan. Though it is often thought that Daoxuan was attempting to promote the Bodhidharma lineage, recent studies have suggested that he was actually attacking Bodhidharma and his later followers. The present article suggests that such readings are in correct and that Daoxuan was in fact attacking the followers of the Three Levels (Sanjie) movement founded by Xinxing, whose role in defining the meaning of chan during the seventh century has not been sufficiently appreciated. Étant un des premiers documents à parler de Bodhidharma, le Xu Gaoseng zhuan de Daoxuan constitue une source cruciale pour l'étude du "Chan primitif". Même si l'on considère le plus souvent que Daoxuan s'efforçait de promouvoir la lignée de Bodhidharma, plusieurs études récentes suggèrent qu'en fait il attaquait Bodhidharma et ses héritiers. L'auteur suggère que cette interprétation n'est pas correcte: en réalité Daoxuan s'attaquait aux adhérents du mouvement des "Trois niveaux" (Sanjie) fondé par Xinxing, dont la contribution à la définition du sens du chan pendant le VIIe siècle n'a pas encore été suffisamment appréciée.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Berkeley


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