Neither Straight Nor Crooked: Poetry as Performative Dialectics in the Five Ranks Philosophy of Zen Buddhism

Philosophy East and West 70 (3):661-678 (2020)
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In traditional and popular accounts, Zen Buddhism is depicted as a practice that rejects literary study and intellectualization in favor of a direct experience of enlightenment that is beyond words. Indeed, the Zen school has traditionally defined itself as a "separate transmission outside the teachings, not dependent on words and letters". Even when regarding the tradition's literary output, Zen literature is famous for its antinomian dialogues replete with outrageous antics, frequent non sequiturs, and crude, illiterate utterances that appear to validate the perspective that Zen simply rejects logical thinking, rational discourse, literary cultivation, and any systematic means of study. While it is...



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