A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden: Volume I
- About the Book
A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden (Fayuan zhulin, Taisho 2122) is a large anthology of excerpts from Buddhist canonical sources and historical records, arranged by theme. The collection offers a comprehensive and distinctive reading of the Buddhist canon, with a focus on practice. An extraordinarily rich account of Buddhist practices is offered, though the rationale for the choice of the one hundred topics around which the discussion is organized is not always clear. Volume I is the first of nine planned volumes in the translation of the work, of which the first three have been translated by Koichi Shinohara. Volume I includes Fascicles 1–7, Chapters 1–4.
The scriptural passages, with some exceptions, were taken from Indian Buddhist scriptures translated into Chinese; the settings of the narratives they offer are for the most part Indian. The historical records excerpted in the collection are of Chinese origin, and their settings are Chinese. The collection is attributed to Daoshi, a seventh-century monk based at Ximingsi Monastery in the capital city, Chang’an.
This collection offers a comprehensive and distinctive reading of the Buddhist canon. The focus of this reading is practice. An extraordinarily rich account of Buddhist practices is offered, though the rationale for the choice of the one hundred topics around which the discussion is organized is not always clear.
In A Forest of Pearls a set of miracle stories is appended at the end of each chapter, devoted to one of the one hundred topics around which the collection is organized. These stories of miraculous occurrences (ganying yuan, “stories of cosmic responses”) about events reported in China correlate to specific scriptural accounts set in India, and they appear to carry the distinct message that the occurrence of such miraculous events illustrate the efficacy in China of the practices described in scriptures. The principal sources for these miracle stories were collections of monastic biographies and a variety of miracle story collections. Most of the latter are no longer extant and their contents are known only through A Forest of Pearls.
- Koichi Shinohara is a scholar of Buddhism in East Asia. He is a specialist on the works of the sixth century monk Daoshi and is the translator of important works for BDK America and other publishers.