Renowned scholar Burton Watson's translation exactingly depicts the life and teachings of the great ninth-century Chinese Zen master Lin-chi, one of the most highly regarded of the T'ang period masters.
Lin-Chi Ihs an (810-866) was one of the great masters of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism. Many schools of Ch'an Buddhism have died out, and Lin-Chi's school is only one of two schools that was introduced into Japan in the 13th century. In Japan, Ch'an Buddhism became Zen Buddhism. Watson's translation of the Recorded Sayings of Ch'an Master Lin-Chi, or the Lin-chi lu, is the first ever English translation of this important teacher's works. Regarded as the "king" of the recorded sayings literary form, Lin-Chi's work is divided into four parts. The first section, "Ascending the Hall," contains short narrative descriptions of Lin-Chi's coming into the seat of honor and answering questions from monks and laypeople. The second section, "Instructing the Group," offers Lin-Chi's Dharma sermons to the students he is instructing in the Ch'an way. A third section, "Testing and Rating," records encounters between master and students; in each brief parabolic meditation, the Master rates the student's understanding of the lesson being taught. A final section, "Record of Activities," describes many of Lin-Chi's travels and the conversations he had with other Ch'an masters in these travels. Watson provides a splendid historical and biographical overview as a preface to his lyrical translation. (Apr.)