Confluences between Neo-Confucian and Chan Practical Methods of Self-Cultivation; The Anthology Reflections on Things at Hand and the _Platform Sutra_ in Comparative Perspective

Comparative and Continental Philosophy 11 (3):265-280 (2019)
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This essay is a case study concerning the problem of rethinking the relationship between Neo-Confucian (Cheng-Zhu school) and Chan schools of thought. The study builds a comparative perspective on two representative texts assembled during the Song dynasty that concern methods of self-cultivation. My theoretical framework is hermeneutical and involves a twofold articulation of correlatives: “inward-outward” and “procedural morality-substantive morality.” By presenting a comparative interpretation of ideas developed in these texts, this analysis highlights the following two components: first, the existence of explicit confluences between major ideas of the influential Cheng-Zhu Neo-Confucian school, which most virulently criticizes the Buddhist tradition, and Chan’s practical methods of self-cultivation; second, it calls attention to the presence of Chan influences in the Neo-Confucian text. Through comparative analysis, this essay intends not only to bring to light Chan influences insightfully integrated by Neo-Confucians within their own discourse on self-cultivation, but also to understand the multidimensional relation between Song-dynasty Neo-Confucian and Chan practices.



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