Mārga as the Way:

Pei Xiu 裴休 (791-864) and the Fellowship of Dao-learners (Xuedaoren 學道人) in Medieval Chan History

Mārga, meaning the path towards enlightenment and liberation, is a soteriological concept ubiquitous in Buddhist literature. In Chinese Buddhism, it has been often translated as “the Way” or Dao and the group of spiritual seekers who embarked on the path has often been referred to as “Dao-learners” (Xuedaoren 學道人). For a long time, there is a lack of sophisticated and systematic studies of these Dao-learners who had extensive engagement with Buddhism. In this talk, Dr. Jiang Wu will examine the culture of Dao-learners in the mid- and late Tang society by focusing on Pei Xiu 裴休 (791-864), a literati follower of Buddhist teachers, the two most eminent among whom were Chan figures Zongmi 宗密 (780-841) and Huangbo Xiyun 黃檗希運 (?-850). Dr. Wu will further argue that the encounter between the Buddhist Mārga and its host culture created a unique culture of Dao-learners in medieval China, which shaped the evolution of Chinese Buddhism, especially Chan Buddhism.


Dr. Jiang Wu lecture flyer

About Our Guest

Dr. Jiang Wu is currently a professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, director of Center for Buddhist Studies. He received his Master’s degree from Nankai University (1994) and Ph.D. from Harvard University (2002). His research interests include seventeenth-century Chinese Buddhism, especially Chan/Zen Buddhism, the role of Buddhist canons in the formation of East Asian Buddhist culture, and the historical exchanges between Chinese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism. Other interests include Confucianism, Chinese intellectual history and social history, and the application of electronic cultural atlas tools in the study of Chinese culture and religion. He has published articles in Asia Major, Journal of East Asian History, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and Monumenta Serica on a variety of topics. His first book Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-century China was published by Oxford University Press in 2008.  His Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia (Oxford, 2016; 384 pages) won the inaugural Tianzhu Best Book in Chan Studies Award. He was awarded the Certificate of Congressional Recognition by U.S. Congressional Representative Judy Chu (27th District of California) and the City of Rosemead, California’s Award of Recognition (November 10, 2018).

For more info on Dr. Wu, please visit: https://eas.arizona.edu/people/jiangwu.