Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans by Richard Shrobe

By Richard Shrobe

Zen koans are tales of exchanges among Zen masters and their disciples in the meanwhile of enlightenment or near-enlightenment. those tales have lengthy involved Western readers as a result of their knowledge, humor, and enigmatic caliber. Drawing on over 30 years of perform and educating, Richard Shrobe (himself a well-known Zen grasp) has chosen 22 circumstances from The Blue Cliff checklist and Wu-men-kuan that he reveals deeply significant and beneficial for meditation perform. In dependent Failure, he presents a wealth of history info and private anecdotes for every koan that aid to light up its which means with out detracting from its paradoxical nature. As Shrobe reminds us, "The major middle of Zen instructing is the naked bones of what's there. In a undeniable feel, embellishing a narrative takes clear of the important educating: Don't enhance something, simply be with it because it is."

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Presumably, one might add religiosity, enlightenment, and Buddhism to the list. In Hacking’s view, this is a mess. To fix it, he proposes strictly limiting the set of subjects construed as socially constructed. Properly, the phrase should be applied only to those phenomena that are conceived— incorrectly conceived—as being natural or inevitable, and therefore as not historically determinate, not socially constructed. In Hacking’s words, Social construction work is critical of the status quo. Social constructionists about X tend to hold that: X need not have existed, or need not be at all as it is.

That is one Buddhism. Later, in the first chapter, BR describes the second Buddhism: Buddhism began with the Awakening of the Buddha . . an event that took place in the fifth or sixth century BCE at Bodhgaya, in the Ganges River plain of northeastern India. 96 Here the origin of Buddhism shifts from the eighteenth century CE to the fifth or sixth BCE. The site of that origin shifts from Europe to India. And the wellspring of that origin shifts from social scientific analysis to an “event” called awakening.

Reading cultures across history, we misuse and mistranslate foreign concepts all the time; anachronisms are common. Why pay such attention to the anachronistic currency of Buddhism? If this book is the long answer, then here is the brief one: Strong constructionism threatens more than the sinecure of a few dozen scholars in a marginal academic discipline. The deconstruction of Buddhism raises doubts about the value and values of the taxonomic structure that houses it. Is religion any less constructed than 29 A BENIGN INTRODUCTION Buddhism?

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