Zen and Religion of No-Religion
The Record of the Dharma-Jewel Through the Generations ( Lidai fabao ji) is a little-known Chan/Zen Buddhist text of the eighth century, rediscovered in 1900 at the Silk Road oasis of Dunhuang. The only remaining artifact of the Bao Tang Chan school of Sichuan, the text provides a fascinating sectarian history of Chinese Buddhism intended to showcase the iconoclastic teachings of Bao Tang founder Chan Master Wuzhu (714-774). Wendi Adamek not only brings Master Wuzhu's experimental community to life but also situates his paradigm-shifting teachings within the history of Buddhist thought. Having published the first translation of the Lidai fabao ji in a Western language, she revises and presents it here for wide readership.
Written by disciples of Master Wuzhu, the Lidai fabao ji is one of the earliest attempts to implement a "religion of no-religion," doing away with ritual and devotionalism in favor of "formless practice." Master Wuzhu also challenged the distinctions between lay and ordained worshippers and male and female practitioners. The Lidai fabao ji captures his radical teachings through his reinterpretation of the Chinese practices of merit, repentance, precepts, and Dharma transmission. These aspects of traditional Buddhism continue to be topics of debate in contemporary practice groups, making the Lidai fabao ji a vital document of the struggles, compromises, and insights of an earlier era. Adamek's volume opens with a vivid introduction animating Master Wuzhu's cultural environment and comparing his teachings to other Buddhist and historical sources.
This is extremely well done: while the translation stays very close to the original, it is also very readable, and it will be well suited for general audiences. Unlike many other existing translations of Chan/Zen works, this is done by an expert in the field with a thorough understanding of the text and its context.
Morten Schlütter, The University of Iowa, author of How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute Over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China
...Adamek has done the field a great service by making this fascinating early Chan work more accessible. The translation is meticulous and lucid.