Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight: T'ien-t'ai Chih-i's Mo-ho chih-kuan, 3-volume set
752pp. October 2017
Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight: T'ien-t'ai Chih-i's Mo-ho chih-kuan, 3-volume set
Translator: Swanson, Paul L.;
The Mo-ho chih-kuan (Great cessation-and-contemplation) by T’ien-t’ai Chih-i (538–597) is among the most influential treatises in the long history of Buddhist scholarship. It is known for not only its brilliant insights, but also its systematic and comprehensive treatment of the Buddhist tradition. Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight is the first complete, fully annotated translation of this monumental work by one of today’s foremost scholars on T’ien-t’ai (Tendai) Buddhism.

The Mo-ho chih-kuan offers a superb outline of Buddhist tradition that covers the full scope of its practices—from sitting or walking in meditation to chanting the Buddha’s name to defining the tenets of ethical living—and its teachings—from the “Hīnayāna” Āgama texts to Mahāyāna sutras and treatises to various Buddhist and non-Buddhist (indigenous Chinese) beliefs. As a cornerstone of T’ien-t’ai study and practice, the Mo-ho chih-kuan was poured over by generations of T’ien-t’ai exegetes and aspiring students, but it also garnered the attention of Buddhist monastics and laity well beyond the confines of the T’ien-t’ai school, including adherents of the Ch’an and Hua-yen schools. Wherever T’ien-t’ai and other homegrown Chinese traditions of Buddhism traveled—Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and beyond—the Mo-ho chih-kuan traveled with them, becoming a genuine classic of East Asian Buddhism.

The extensive annotation accompanying the translation (volumes 1 and 2) will help readers understand the original text and the implications of various crucial passages and ideas, as well as the place the Mo-ho chih-kuan occupies in the development of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese Buddhism and its critical importance for figures such as Nichiren, who considered Chih-i the “great master” and quoted profusely from the text in his own writings. Volume 3 includes ample supplementary materials such as translations of related texts, a comprehensive glossary, and lists of Chinese terms and explanations of various sources, among others.

Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture
“It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the T’ien-t’ai school and its foundational text, Chih-i’s Mo-ho chih-kuan, for understanding East Asian Buddhism’s past and present. Paul Swanson’s mastery of the Mo-ho chih-kuan and his exceptional skills as a translator and annotator make Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight a truly vital work of scholarship that will be valued today and for a great many years to come by all those interested in the T’ien-t’ai, Tendai, and Nichiren traditions in particular and Mahayana Buddhism in general.” —Gene Reeves, former distinguished professor, Renmin University of China (Beijing); professor emeritus, Meadville Lombard Theological School (Chicago); and translator of The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic

“The Mo-ho chih-kuan, a grand systematizing of Buddhist teachings and practice methods by the sixth-century Chinese master Chih-i, profoundly shaped the development of East Asian Buddhism. Now Paul Swanson’s meticulous and superbly annotated translation makes the whole of this foundational work available for the first time in a Western language. A monumental scholarly achievement, Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight will endure for generations and open a new era in Buddhist studies.” —Jacqueline Stone, professor of religion, Princeton University
Translator: Swanson, Paul L.;
Paul L. Swanson is a Permanent Research Fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nanzan University.