Meditation Practices in Chinese Buddhism

Subject Code: 
  Lecture Date Census Date Location

Semester 1 2017 15 -19 May 2017 15 May NTI Wollongong Campus

Meditation Practices in Chinese Buddhism’ will offer students an intellectually-engaged study of the tradition and practices of Chinese Chan (later  Japanese Zen) Buddhism based in experiential engagement with its practice. The course will proceed by continually interweaving experiential inquiry with scholarly study and critical reflection upon direct experience of the tradition and its meditation practices, in a way that will enrich further studies in Buddhist meditative thought and practices encountered in other NTI course offerings.

The unit will provide an overview of the historical and cultural circumstances that shaped the Mahayana tradition of Chan (‘Zen’) Buddhism in China, from 6th century CE through the Tang and Song dynasties,with attention to its engagement with existing Daoist philosophy and ethos, while offering direct experience of the two primary streams of Chan meditation practice - ‘Silent Illumination’, and ‘Koan Introspection’ - that emerged in the classical period. The markedly different cultural expressions of Chan (Zen) that have formed as it  moved into a Western context will be assessed for signs of cultural accretion,adaptation, renovation or transformation within the received tradition.  

Lecture topics include:

  • The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism
  • Early movement of Buddhism from India into China on the Silk Road
  • Daoism and its influence upon Buddhism in China
  • Early Chan Buddhadharma
  • Notions of lineage and transmission in a Chinese context
  • Key Tang dynasty masters and practices 
  • Key Song dynasty masters and practices
  • Caodong (‘Soto’) and Linji (‘Rinzai’) streams
  • ‘Just sitting’ and ‘Koan introspection'
  • Movement of Chan to Japan (‘Zen’),  Korea (’Son’), Vietnam (‘Thien’)
  • Some recent scholarly historical and philosophical critiques of Chan/Zen
  • Zen as it engages with the West


Dr Susan Murphy, Zen Roshi


 Full participation, plus 500-600 word summary of reflection journal maintained  during the intensive week Lecture Week (Week 2) 20%
Critical review of one major piece of prescribed reading (1000 words) Week 3 30%
Research paper (2500 words) Week 5 50%



Meditation Practices in Chinese Buddhism’ is an elective subject in Nan Tien Institute’s postgraduate Applied Buddhist Studies program.

This 6 credit point subject can be taken as an elective in:

Master of Arts (Applied Buddhist Studies)

72 credit points

Graduate Diploma of Applied Buddhist Studies

48 credit points

Graduate Certificate in Applied Buddhist Studies

24 credit points

Study costs/scholarships

The total subject cost is $1,250.00 for Domestic students, and $1,600.00 for International students.

Australian students


International students


Entry requirements

There are no prerequisites to study this subject as a non-award student.

There are academic and/or program and work experience prerequisites for studying this subject as part of the NTI Applied Buddhist Studies program. Contact NTI for details on entry requirements.