The Institute For Zen Studies

  • Study groups
  • Publications, etc.
  • Scholarly resources
  • Software

Present study groups

The Institute for Zen Studies sponsors a variety of study groups to meet the needs of Zen scholars and the greater Zen community, both lay and ordained. The following study groups are presently active at the Institute.

The Annals of the Ancestral Hall (Zutang ji) Study Group

Description The Zutang ji 祖堂集 (Annals of the Ancestral Hall) Study Group focuses on clarifying the background of the early goroku known as the Zutang ji, with a special emphasis on the Xuefeng-lineage masters who compiled it.

Recorded-Sayings Literature of the Tang Dynasty: The Recorded Sayings of Shenhui (Shenhui yulu) Study Group

Description The Shenhui yulu 神會語録 (Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Heze Shenhui) Study Group is compiling a new recension of this important Northern Zen text, based on the Dunhuang Museum manuscript and numerous recently discovered fragments. A modern Japanese translation and detailed commentary are also being prepared.

Recorded-Sayings Literature of the Tang Dynasty: The Jingde-era Record of the Lamp Study Group

Description The Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳伝灯録 (Jingde-era Record of the Lamp) Study Group is reexamining this fundamental text from the perspective of modern scholarship on Tang-dynasty colloquial language, with the goal of clarifying the meaning and intent of its numerous koans.

Lankavatara Sutra Study Group

Description Under the direction of Prof. Tokiwa, this group is examining the reconstructed Sanskrit text of the Lankavatara Sutra, together with the Lankavatara Sutra’s Chinese translation, Japanese kundoku reading, and English and Japanese translations.

Smartphone Applications Group

Description This group is developing educational applications on Zen for the iPhone and Android smartphone platforms.

Zen Masters Interview Group

Description This group is producing high-definition videos of interviews with the masters of important Zen monasteries in Japan.

Zen Garden Video-Archive Group

Description This group is producing high-definition videos of well-known Zen gardens, filmed over the course of the four seasons of the year.

The Min'an Yōsai Study Group

Description This group is surveying and collecting the extant writings of Zen master Min’an Yōsai, the monk who transmitted the Rinzai Zen teachings from China to Japan, for an anthology of his works to be issued in 2014 in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of his death.

The Jakushitsu Genkō Study Group

Description This group is preparing an annotated edition, with Japanese readings, of the Sino-Japanese writings of Zen Master Jakushitsu Genkō, founder of the temple Eigen-ji in Shiga Prefecture, in commemoration of the 650th anniversary of the master’s death in 2016.

The Enpō Dentōroku Study Group

Description This group is preparing an annotated edition, with Japanese readings, of the Enpō Dentōroku延宝伝灯録, a biographical work compiled by Mangen Shiban 卍元師蛮 (1626-1710), with entries for nearly a thousand Japanese Zen monks, nuns, and lay practitioners.

Rinzai School Sutra Study Group

Description This group is reconsidering the design and use of the daily sutras and dharanis chanted in the contemporary Rinzai school, with the intention of bringing them into closer accord with the preferences of ordinary people in the modern world.

The Song-Dynasty Zen Records Study Group

Description The Song-Dynasty Zen Records Study Group welcomes everyone, whether lay or ordained, with an interest in reading the ancient Zen records. The text currently under study is the Linjian lu 林間録 (Zen Forest Records).

Zen Publications Group

Description This group is considering new ways to use traditional print media to increase public interest in Zen.

Tripitaka Study Circle

Description In 1995, after finishing its study of The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana大乗起信論, the group adopted the name Tripitaka Study Circle 大蔵会 and took up the study of texts fundamental to the thought of Zen Buddhism. At present the group is reading the Five Teachings According to the Huayan School 華厳五教章.

The Hakuin Study Group

Description This group is studying the writings of Hakuin Ekaku 白隠慧鶴 (1685-1768), the famed reviver of the Japanese Rinzai School.

Former study groups

Recently, the study group was being held at the Institute, but the list has already ended.

Genkō Shakusho Study Group

Description This group studied the Genkō shakusho 元亨釈書, Japan’s earliest historical study of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, compiled by the Zen monk Kokan Shiren 虎関師錬 (1278-1346). In 2011 the group published an annotated edition of the text, with Japanese readings.

Japanese Zen History Study Group

Description This group, under the guidance of Prof. Nagashima Fukutarō and Prof. Katō Shōshun, studied the history of Zen in Japan.

Philosophy Study Group

Description This group studied various texts between 1983 and 1995.

Issues of Concern for Temples in Modern Japan

Description Temples in the Rinzai and Ōbaku schools were surveyed on several issues of central importance in contemporary Japanese Buddhism: 1) relations between temples and temple supporters (danka); 2) the role of temple wives; 3) the role of nuns. The results were published and distributed to all temples in the Rinzai and Ōbaku schools.

Zen Garden Study Group

Description The Zen Garden Study Group brought together experts in the fields of garden design, garden history, and architectural history to investigate and discuss the historical development of Zen temple gardens.

Zen-Text Colloquial Language Study Group

Description Zen-Text Colloquial Language Study Group. This group, comprising specialists on the grammar of various regions in China, published their findings in five issues of their journal, Zenseki zokugogen kenkyū (Journal of Colloquial Language in Zen Texts).

Yunmen guanglu Study Group

Description Yunmen guanglu Study Group. This group, headed by Prof. Iriya Yoshitaka, met biweekly from September 1991, to continue Iriya’s lectures on the Yunmen guanglu 雲門広録 (Extensive Record of Yunmen) following his retirement as professor at Hanazono University.

Hanyu Dacidian Indexing Committee

Description Committee for Indexing the “Hanyu Dacidian.” This committee commenced the project of databasing all of the vocabulary items appearing in the Hanyu Dacidian 漢語大詞典, a twelve-volume unabridged dictionary of the Chinese language. Its work was used in compiling an index for the dictionary.

Aum Shinrikyō

Description The implications of the Aum Shinrikyō Affair were discussed from the Zen tradition’s perspective by doctrinal authorities from the Ōbaku and Rinzai schools in a ten-month series of meetings.

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana Study Group

Description As part of the Philosophy Study Group, this group read The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana over the course of thirty-seven meetings between 1985 and 1995.

Taiping Guangji Database Group

Description Taiping Guangji Database Committee. This committee worked on a text database for the Taiping Guangji  太平廣記 (Extensive Records of the Taiping Era) between 1992 and 1994.

The Foundational Text Database Committee

Description Foundational Text Database Committee. This committee indexed vocabulary and produced text databases for foundational texts of the Zen school.

Approaches to Training Acolytes Study Group

Description In a series of meetings held between September 1992 and July 1993, this group considered various issues relating to the education of Zen temple acolytes, a subject of central importance in producing successors to the priesthood.

Brain Death

Description The various issues related to the concept of brain death were discussed by officials responsible for educational affairs at the Ōbaku school and various branches of the Rinzai school, and a report of their conclusions was released.

Dialogues with Scientists

Description To date, four dialogues with representatives of various scientific fields have been held.