Chronology Part 2 (Buddhism)


♦ The Kamakura era (1192-1338) begins with the shogun (military ruler) assuming real power throughout Japan as opposed to the emperor, based in Kyoto. The shoguns favor Buddhism, especially Zen, and Pure Land and Nichiren schools also flourish.


♦ The founder of the Japanese Rinzai Zen school, Eisai (1141-1215), publishes Kozen Gogokuron (Promote Zen to protect the kingdom’s rulers), his most influential work. Eisai had first visited China in 1169 and returned with Tian Tai texts. He later returned a second time to study Zen (Chan) teachings. His Kozen Gogokuron gave imperial approval to his efforts to establish a Zen school in Japan. Eisai is also remembered as introducing tea from China.


♦ Shinran (1173-1262), the successor to Honen, is sent into exile at the same time as Honen. He went on to teach about nembutsu practice and raise his own family. Shinran further developed the Pure Land concepts that joined to establish the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism. Shinran placed special emphasis in his teachings on shinjin, faith.


♦ The Japanese monk Dogen (1200-53) attains enlightenment while studying with the Caodong Chan master Ru Jing (1163-1268) in China. He returns to found the Soto Zen school in Japan. His masterpiece, Shobogenzo, spells out his philosophical ideas on the nature of phenomena.


♦ The koan collection Wuman Guan (Gateless gate) appears. It contains 48 classic koans, "cases" meant to help cultivating monks gain an immediate apprehension of a vital truth. The work and another collection of 100 cases, the Blue Cliff Records, constitute the most famous koan collections. Koans have been an important aspect of practice in the Linji/Rinzai traditions of Chan/Zen.


♦ The great cast bronze figure of the Amitabha Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, the Daibutsu, is completed, replacing a wooden one completed in 1243.


♦ Nichiren (1222-82) publishes the Kanjin hon-zon sho, a text that explains how to perform contemplation in the age of mappo, or the end of Dharma. Nichiren established a very powerful, iconoclastic school, Nichiren Shu, which put primary emphasis on the Lotus Sutra as the most complete expression of the Buddha’s wisdom. The Kanjin honzon sho took the ideas of the Tian Tai founder Zhi Yi (538-597) in the direction of making the contemplation techniques propounded by Zhi Yi available to all.


♦ Buston (1290-1364), a Tibetan monk-scholar from the Kagyu school, edits the Tibetan Buddhist canon. He helps to organize the entire corpus into two portions, the Tanjur (words of the Buddha) and the Tenjur (commentarial literature). He also writes a chronology of Buddhism in India and Tibet.


♦ Tsong Khapa founds the Gelug (Virtuous Ones) school of Tibetan Buddhism, after intensive study with Sakya, Kagyu, and Kadampa masters.


♦ Theravada Buddhism is recognized as the official state doctrine in the Siamese Kingdom of Ayutthaya.


♦ The Mongol ruler Altan Khan assigns the title Dalai Lama ("teacher of the great ocean of wisdom") to the Tibetan teacher Sonam Gyatso (1543-88), subsequently known as the third Dalai Lama. The individual occupying this position later became the political leader of Tibet, as well as spiritual leader of the Gelug school.


♦ The Tokugawa shogunate takes power in Japan. While privileging Zen Buddhism, the government strongly regulates Buddhism during the next 264 years and establishes a nationwide registration system.


♦ The 99-meter-high stupa and temple complex at Shwedagon is built in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar).


♦ Angkor Wat temple complex is rediscovered by the French explorer Henri Mouhot. The original complex near the Khmer city of Angkor Thom was built by the Khmer rulers Jayavarman VII (1181-1220) and Suryavarman II (r. 1131-50). Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Vishnu but later became a Buddhist temple.


♦ The restoration of the Meiji emperor (18521912) to power marks the end of the Tokugawa era (1603-1868) and social structure in Japan. The new modernizing and outward-focused government rethinks the status of Buddhism and Shinto.


♦ Yasukuni Jinja, a Shinto shrine in Tokyo, is built under imperial edict to commemorate the dead of the Boshin Civil War (1867-68). Over time the souls of others who died in later battles were also added. Most recently, in 1978 the souls of 14 leaders (and war criminals) from World War II were included in the shrine. Since 1979 several prime ministers have visited the shrine, causing diplomatic complaints and demonstrations in other Asian countries, whose people generally see the visits as a sign of Japan’s lack of remorse for its actions during the war.


♦ The entire Pali Tripitaka is carved on 729 marble slabs, as instructed by the Burmese king Mondon. This collection is still visible at the Kuthodaw temple in Mandalay, Myanmar.


♦ The Pali Text Society is founded by Thomas W. Rhys Davids. The society, based in London, continues to publish the Pali canon of Buddhism as well as dictionaries and a journal.


♦ The Buddhist flag is first unfurled on Wesak, the celebration of the Buddha’s birth date, in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Originally intended for use only during Wesak, it later became associated with the struggle against colonialism. In 1950 it was adopted officially by the World Federation of Buddhists.


♦ Angarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) founds the Maha Bodhi society to organize support for the preservation of Bodhgaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. Today Bodhgaya is a major pilgrimage center and a United Nations World Heritage Site.


♦ The Indian Buddhist Angarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) and the Japanese Zen leader Soyen Shaku (1859-1919) speak at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. After the parliament, Charles T. Strauss, a German-American businessman, becomes the first American who formally accepts the precepts and becomes a lay Buddhist.


♦ The Japanese Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki (1870-1966) achieves enlightenment after training under Soyen Shaku (1859-1919). Suzuki later writes more than 100 books and is instrumental in explaining Buddhism to the modern West.


♦ The Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) is founded in San Francisco when Sonoda Shuye and Nishijima Kakuryo arrive in the city as representatives of the Honpa Hongwanji sect of Jodo Shinshu.


♦ The first Young Men’s Buddhist Associations are founded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, by D. D. Jayatilaka.


♦ More than 40,000 Buddhist and Daoist texts are discovered in a single cave storage room in Dun Huang, a city located on the edge of China’s great western desert. The Hungarian-British explorer Aurel Stein (1862-1943) purchased the whole lot and transported it to British India. It is now held in the British Museum.


♦ Ajahn Chah, a major proponent of the Thai Forest Meditation Tradition, establishes Wat Pah Nanachat in northern Thailand. This in turn becomes a major center training Westerners in the Thai Forest Tradition.


♦ The Chinese Buddhist reformer T’ai Hsu (18901947) visits Hong Kong and sparks a popular Buddhist revival there.


♦ The Chinese Tripitaka is published in Japan in what is today known as the Taisho edition (full name is Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo). Today the Taisho remains the authoritative edition of the Chinese Tripitaka, and each work is referenced by its T number. The Taisho contains 2,184 separate works in 55 volumes.


♦ Zhang Tianran assumes leadership of a small Eternal Mother-worshipping sect based in Shandong, eastern China. In the 14 years before his death he builds a nationwide religious organization known popularly as Yiguandao (today often called Tian Dao). Although suppressed in mainland China, Tian Dao groups continued to flourish in Taiwan and other areas in Asia throughout the 20th century.


♦ The lay Nichiren organization now known as Soka Gakkai International is founded by Maki-guchi Tsunesaburo (1871-1944) in Tokyo. In the decades since World War II, it has become one of the most powerful Buddhist institutions in the modern world.


♦ World Fellowship of Buddhism is established, with headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, as the umbrella organization for all Buddhist groups.


♦ Buddhist Council at Rangoon sponsored by the Burmese government to review and collate the contents of the Pali canon.


♦ The Indian independence leader Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) formally converts to Buddhism and encourages around 400,000 Dalits (members of the untouchable class) to convert in the same year as well.


♦ The 14th Dalai Lama flees Tibet after Chinese occupation. This results in the migration of a significant number of Tibetans into exile and, concurrently, the spread of Tibetan Buddhism to most parts of the world.


♦ The immolation of the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc on June 11 calls the world’s attention to the growing conflict in Vietnam and helps ignite a global movement for peace.


♦ Change of the immigration law in the United States launches the movement of people from Asian countries to North America with a resultant rapid expansion of Buddhism there.


♦ The Buddhist compassion relief Tzu Chi Association ("Tzu Chi") is founded in Hualian, Taiwan, as a charitable institution by the nun Cheng Yen (1966- ). It eventually became one of the most influential organizations in modern Buddhism.


♦ The Chinese Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution dominates events in China and results in the wholesale destruction of many Buddhist temples and works of art.


♦ Chogyam Trungpa (1940-87), the first Tibetan tulku educated in the West, arrives in America and settles in Colorado. He founds the Vajradhatu Foundation in 1973 and Naropa University in 1974 and is instrumental in popularizing Tibetan Buddhism in the West.


♦ The Vietnamese-born monk Thich Nhat Hanh (1926- ) founds Plum Village as a meditation center in France.


♦ American Buddhist Congress is organized in Los Angeles to provide a united voice for the Buddhist groups in the United States.


♦ The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, receives the Nobel Peace Prize. He is born in 1935 in Tibet, chosen at two years old as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and receives a traditional, rigorous education in Buddhism. In 1959, at the age of 24, he leaves India on foot with a large number of followers and henceforth lives in exile, based in the North Indian city of Dharmsala, where he establishes the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.


♦ The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, the first electronic publication devoted to Buddhism, begins.


♦ The entire Pali canon is made available online.


♦ World Buddhist University is established by the World Fellowship of Buddhists.


♦ The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment, is named a United Nations World Heritage Site.


♦ Plans are finalized to establish a modern university at the ancient Buddhist monastery complex at Nalanda in Bihar, India. Several Asian nations express official support for the project.


♦ Buddhist monks take a leading role in organizing civil unrest in Myanmar. Sporadic demonstrations occur in such northern cities as Sittwe and Pakokku, initially to protest the doubling of diesel and the quintupling of natural gas prices announced by the ruling junta on August 15. Up to 100,000 demonstrators take to the streets of the capital on September 24, with civilians forming human barricades around the marching monks and nuns. These demonstrations are eventually quelled by police and army units, resulting in mass arrests and deaths of at least 15 people. Monasteries around Yangon are raided and surrounded by armed police.

Major Dynasties and Modern Periods in Chinese History

• Xia (Hsia) dynasty about 1994 B.C.E.-1766 B.C.E.

• Shang dynasty 1766 b.c.e.-1027 b.c.e.

• Zhou (Chou) dynasty 1122 b.c.e.-256 b.c.e. plus supplement

• Qin (Ch’in) dynasty 221 b.c.e.-206 b.c.e.

• Han dynasty 206 b.c.e.-220 c.e.

• Three Kingdoms—Period of Disunion 220 c.e.-280 c.e.

• Sui dynasty 589 c.e.-618 c.e.

• Tang (T’ang) dynasty 618 c.e.-907 c.e.

• Song (Sung) dynasty 969 c.e.-1279 c.e.

• Yuan (Mongol) dynasty 1279 c.e.-1368 c.e.

• Ming dynasty 1368 c.e.-1644 c.e.

• Manchu, or Qing (Ch’ing), dynasty 1644 c.e.-1912 c.e.

• Republic of China 1911-1949

• People’s Republic of China 1949-

Japanese Historical Periods

• Jomon period 300 b.c.e.

• Yayoi period c. 300 b.c.e.-300 c.e.

• Kofun period 300-552 (538?)

• Asuka period 552-645

• Nara 645-794 710-784?

• Heian 794-1185

• Kamakura 1185-1333

• Muromachi 1336-1573

• Momoyama 1573-1603

• Edo 1603-1868

• Meiji 1868-1914

• Taisho 1914-1918

• Showa 1926-1989

• Heisei 1989-

The First Six Patriarchs of Chan/Zen

• Bodhidharma (-535)(28th Indian patriarch, first Chan patriarch)

• Hui Ke (487-593)

• Seng Can (-606)

• Dao Xin (580-651)

• Hong Ren (602-675)

• Hui Neng (638-713)

Major Mahayana Sutras

• Amitabha Sutra

• Avatamsaka Sutra

• Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika-prajnaparamita Sutra)

• Heart Sutra (Pranjnaparamita-hrdaya Sutra)

• Lankavatara Sutra

• Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-pundarika Sutra)

• Mahavairocana Sutra

• Srimaladevi Sutra

• Sutra of Hui Neng

• Sutra of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

• The Brahma Net Sutra

• Mahaparinirvana Sutra

• Virmalakirti-nirdesa Sutra

The Books of the Pali Sutta-pittaka

• Digha Nikaya (The "Long" Discourses)

• Majjhima Nikaya (The "Middle-length" Discourses)

• Samyutta Nikaya (The "Grouped" Discourses)

• Anguttara Nikaya (The "Further-factored" Discourses)

• Khuddaka Nikaya (The "Division of Short Books"—18 books, in the Burmese tradition):

1. Khuddakapatha—The Short Passages

2. Dhammapada—The Path of Dhamma

3. Udana—Exclamations

4. Itivuttaka—The Thus-saids

5. Sutta Nipata—The Sutta Collection

6. Vimanavatthu—Stories of the Celestial Mansions

7. Petavatthu—Stories of the Hungry Ghosts

8. Theragatha—Verses of the Elder Monks

9. Therigatha—Verses of the Elder Nuns

10. Jataka—Birth Stories

11. Niddesa—Exposition

12. Patisambhidamagga—Path of Discrimination

13. Apadana—Stories

14. Buddhavamsa—History of the Buddhas

15. Cariyapitaka—Basket of Conduct

16. Nettippakarana (Burmese Tipitaka only)

17. Petakopadesa (Burmese Tipitaka only)

18. Milindapanha—Questions of Milinda (Burmese Tipitaka only)

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