Investigating the Question of Master Dushun’s Status as the First Huayan Patriarch
平燕紅 (Yan-hong Ping)

  The notion of the five Tang dynasty Huayan patriarchs is broadly accepted by historians. However, there subsists important questions regarding the establishment and development of this patriarchal lineage. The identity of Master Dushun as the first patriarch of this lineage has been a subject of debate in the Japanese scholarly community. Professor Koyo Sakaino has suggested that the first patriarch was actually Master Zhizheng, whereas Professor Daijo Tokiwa has maintained the view that it was Master Dunshun. When discussing the development of the Huayan School during the early Tang dynasty, specifically regarding the status of Master Dushun, it is essential to consider both the sectarian accounts from that period and the doctrinal disagreements between Huayan masters. When a Buddhist sect is established, an orthodoxy naturally forms in its wake. The heritage of the tradition as well as the patriarchal lineage is constructed subsequently on the basis of this orthodoxy. Consequently, the figure of Master Dunshun should be examined along two lines of inquiry. One the one hand, it is necessary to investigate his doctrinal influence on later Huayan masters, such as Master Zhiyan and Master Fazang. Secondly, one must determine the period at which his influence and status as the first patriarch was established. While these two issues can be easily mixed up, they are actually two distinct topics, each requiring their own investigation.


Huayan School, Dunshun, Zhizheng, the first patriarch, orthodoxy