A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden (Fayuan zhulin, T. 2122) is a large anthology of thematically arranged excerpts from Buddhist canonical sources and historical records, attributed to the seventh-century monk Daoshi. Most of the scriptural passages were taken from Indian Buddhist scriptures translated into Chinese; the settings of their narratives are for the most part Indian. The historical records excerpted in the collection are of Chinese origin, and their settings are Chinese. In addition, 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 ganying yuan, “stories of cosmic responses,” about events reported in China correlate to specific scriptural accounts set in India, and carry the distinct message that the occurrence of such miraculous events illustrates 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.
A Forest of Pearls presents a comprehensive and distinctive reading of the Buddhist canon focused on practice, and offers an extraordinarily rich account of Buddhist practices. The principal practice of “paying respect to,” or worshiping, the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) occupies an important place in the collection.
The translation of the complete text of the Fayuan zhulin will be published in multiple volumes. Volumes I–III, translated by Koichi Shinohara, were published in 2019–2020. Volume IV, translated by Harumi Ziegler, includes Fascicles 21–27, Chapters 10–19.