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2.1 Orthodox Chinese Buddhism (2007)


For brief summaries of the book, see the blurb on the back cover to the right or the webpage, where you can also give feedback. Below I provide lists of errata, suggested changes and comments (all keyed to the page numbers of the translated text). If you want an online version of the original Chinese text, try one of the following links: ChineseText1, ChineseText2,  and in simplified Chinese characters, ChineseText3.

Reference: Sheng Yen (Venerable). 2007. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism: A Contemporary Chan Master's Answers to Common Questions. Translated by Douglas Gildow and Otto Chang. Edited and Annotated by Douglas Gildow. Elmhurst, NY: Dharma Drum Publications.

Related Links:

  1. Download the book's Front Matter.
  2. Download Section Four, “Buddhist Philosophy and Terminology."
  3. Download the Appendixes.
  4. My webpage 5.2, a photo album with supplementary photos for OCB.


Orthodox Chinese Buddhism
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Orthodox Chinese Buddhism
See larger image



2.1.1 Errata
2.1.2 Suggestions and Comments

2.1.1 Errata
Some of the following are rather subtle mistakes or even just judgments calls. Others are mistakes, pure and simple. Some of these mistakes I made because I clung too closely to the Chinese text. Errata are listed here in part for the benefit of Dharma Drum Mountain, in case a reprint with corrections is made


Mistaken Text

Corrected Text

Para. 1, Line 5: “retributions in one particular life,”
“retributions for one particular life,”
P 3, L 4: “broken into three parts which are”
“broken into three parts, which are”
P 2, L 12: “If one’s fate has
“If one’s fate had
P 4, L 5: “the effect will not be as great as it would be if the deceased”
“the effect would not be as great as it were if the deceased”
P 2, L 9: “(wai fanfu)
“(wai fanfu)
Closing parenthesis should be roman, not italic.
P 2, L 5: “Nanchuan
Sixth Line from bottom: “(sè jiūjìng tiān”
“(sè jiùjìng tiān”
One had better specify a dictionary of first resort for standardizing one’s use of Chinese characters and pronunciation. I wanted this book to reflect standard Mandarin as written and spoken in Taiwan, and I used the Taiwanese MoE dictionary as my first resort. So based on that decision, here the character “jiu” should be fourth tone, not first tone.
L 4: “the commoners among the hierarchy”
“the commoners within the hierarchy”
L 2: “xīng yún
Delete the space for the proper Pinyin orthography of a monastic name.
L 15: “he drank a bit of alcohol”
“he asked for a bit of alcohol”
P 3, L 2: “虛唯識系”
P 7, L 3: “táishēng”
P 4, L 1: “唯論”
Second line from bottom: “涅
P 1, three times:  “涅
Fifth Line from bottom: “technical term for the”
“technical term of the”
P 2, L 1: “sānjiè三界”
sānjiè 三界”
The rule is to have one space between Pinyin and Chinese characters.
Last P, L 6: “phenomenon in many fields”
phenomena in many fields”
Fifth Line from bottom: “曉嵐  (晓岚)
曉嵐 (晓岚)”
Last Line: “(reign period of the Táng)”
“(a reign period of the Táng)”
L 16: “Nánchuán (a Chinese monk) 南    (南)”
“Nánquán (a Chinese monk)  南 (南)”


2.1.2 Suggestions and Comments


Original Text

Suggested Change or Comment

Sanskritic Proofreading”
Better: “Indic Proofreading”
I also used “Indic” on page 16 to refer to both Sanskrit and Pali.
Shengyan, 1930-
Why not “Sheng Yen, 1931-”?
He spells his name Sheng Yen and was born in 1931. But the Library of Congress demands the use of Hanyu Pinyin for names, and Sheng Yen’s “official” but erroneous year of birth, on his US passport, is 1930. I was told it would be too much hassle to bother changing this.
“…primer on Chan Buddhism,”
This is an inaccurate summary of the book and I’m not sure how this got into the LoC information.
“Hepburn system”
There are three variants of the Hepburn system. More specifically, the system used here is generally called the “revised Hepburn” system.
Para. 2, L 17: “It should be an”
“It would be an”
P 2, L 11: “not to repeat it).”
Move the closing parenthesis to L 10: “degree of wrongdoing) and followed by”
This is better punctuation, regardless of where the closing parenthesis was in the Chinese version.
Entry 3.11
For video clips of practices such as those Sheng Yen criticizes here, see section 1.2.2 of this website.
P 1, L 4: “In a Tuṣita Heaven”
Why “a” Tuṣita Heaven? Because there are technically one-billion such heavens in our billion-world universe (see the chart on pages 186-87).
P 1, L 3, and P 4, L 5: “crave for
(No need for the preposition “for” here. I didn’t use it on pages 112 or 145 either)
Caption: “Doctrinal Schools of Buddhism”
“Doctrinal Schools of Chinese Buddhism”
If this suggestion is taken, also change the corresponding listing of this caption on page 8
P 2, L 10: “in [its emphasis on] chan [meditation]”
The meaning of this phrase is not very clear unless you read the endnote. I would have preferred a slightly different translation. The final version of a translated, edited book is to some extent a result of many negotiations.
P 3, L 10: “two most influential lineages
“two most influential schools
Here we are comparing the influence of schools of thought, not lineage orders.
“the late Master Dongchu (1907-1977).”
On the back cover, we say “Dongchu (1908-1977).”
I found conflicting information about his year of birth, and have not found the time to clarify this issue. If someone would like to share historical documentation (e.g., not just information from Wikipedia!) I would be happy to read it.
P 1, L 30: “career to Buddhahood!”
“career to Buddhahood! [See chart on page 188.]
P 4, L 4: “return to his fatherland”
Is it best to use “motherland,” the term usually used in English, “fatherland,” “ancestral land,” or “ancestor’s land”? The Chinese is closer to “ancestral land,” and traditionally one’s ancestors are mainly those linked to one’s father’s side of the family. So I compromised between colloquial English usage and the Chinese term (following what is often done for translations from German into English) by translating this as “fatherland.”
P 1, L 8: “would be ignored”
will be ignored”
The “0” in the numeral “10” of “Figure 10” looks like it needs to be made bold.
Also, eliminate one line of space between the line that begins “Figure 10” and the line that begins “This chart delineates”
N. 1: I’m aware that the word nikāya can also mean “school,” so often “Nikāya Buddhism” is used to mean “Buddhism of the [various] schools.” I’m using this word as an adjective in a way that it’s not always used.
N. 5, L 8: “However, these five beings”
But these five beings”
N. 41: “Japanese Buddhism which focuses”
“Japanese Buddhism that focuses”
N. 26: “137-77; Sheng Yen’s critique of the BAROC is given on p. 175.”
137-77, which includes Sheng Yen’s critique of the BAROC on p. 175.”
L 2: “unclear in the text itself.”
“unclear in the text.”
It would look better to have a subtitle between lines 7 and 8; something like “ENTRIES” (in small caps, boldface, centered, just like “NOTES AND CONVENTIONS” on page 230). Also, using small caps for the headwords reflects form overriding function: with the headwords all in small caps, for most words the reader cannot tell if the headwords should be capitalized or not. Design has reduced the amount of information the reader could otherwise get from the entries.
P 5, L 7: “a piece of burnt wood”
“a piece of burned wood”
“Burned” is the first choice in Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, which is my dictionary of first resort for deciding such issues.
P 3, L 12: “4. (dharma) A primary existent from which everything”
“4. (dharma) A primary existent (or the category to which such an existent belongs) from which everything”
P 1, L 7: “for ātman to be something that most”
“for ātman to be a word referring to something that most”
P 2, L 2-5: “For example, the title of the Jīn’gāng bānruò bōluómì jīng 金剛般若波羅密經 (Diamond sūtra on the perfection of wisdom) has been shortened to the name by which it is frequently referred to in East Asia, the Jīn’gāng jīng金剛般若波羅密經(Diamond sūtra).”

For example, the title of the Diamond Sūtra on the Perfection of Wisdom (jīn’gāng bānruò bōluómì jīng 金剛般若波羅密經) has been shortened to the name by which it is frequently referred to in East Asia, the Diamond Sūtra (jīn’gāng jīng 金剛經).

Last Line: “Dàshèng
My policy has been to display the more standard pronunciations as primary, rather than using the pronunciations used in some Buddhist subcultures. Thus, I use āmítuófó (not ōmítuófó or ēmítuófó) and bānruò (not bōrě). In the glossary entry on page 239 I list both dàchéng and dàshèng, but dàchéng comes first and so that should be used as the default romanization for this term.
P 1, L 1-2: “Mandarin Chinese words that are romanized”
“Mandarin Chinese words romanized”

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