Chan Rhetoric of Uncertainty in the Blue Cliff Record: Sharpening a Sword at the Dragon Gate

Paperback | May 3, 2016

bySteven Heine

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This book provides an in-depth textual and literary analysis of the Blue Cliff Record (Chinese Biyanlu, Japanese Hekiganroku), a seminal Chan/Zen Buddhist collection of commentaries on one hundred gonganan cases, considered in light of historical, cultural, and intellectual trends from theSong dynasty (960-1279). Compiled by the disciples of Yuanwu Keqin in 1128, the Blue Cliff Record is considered a classic of East Asian literature for its creative integration of prose and verse as well as hybrid or capping-phrase interpretations of perplexing cases. The collection employs a varietyof rhetorical devices culled from both classic and vernacular literary sources and styles and is particularly notable for its use of indirection, allusiveness, irony, paradox, and wordplay, all characteristic of the approach of literary or lettered Chan. However, as instrumental and influential as it is considered to be, the Blue Cliff Record has long been shrouded in controversy. The collection is probably best known today for having been destroyed in the 1130s at the dawn of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) by Dahui Zonggao, Yuanwu's maindisciple and harshest critic. It was out of circulation for nearly two centuries before being revived and partially reconstructed in the early 1300s. In this book, Steven Heine examines the diverse ideological connections and disconnections behind subsequent commentaries and translations of the BlueCliff Record, thereby shedding light on the broad range of gongan literature produced in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries and beyond.

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This book provides an in-depth textual and literary analysis of the Blue Cliff Record (Chinese Biyanlu, Japanese Hekiganroku), a seminal Chan/Zen Buddhist collection of commentaries on one hundred gonganan cases, considered in light of historical, cultural, and intellectual trends from theSong dynasty (960-1279). Compiled by the discip...

Steven Heine is Professor of History and Religion and Director of the Institute for Asian Studies at Florida International University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:May 3, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199397775

ISBN - 13:9780199397778

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"Drawing from his impressive expertise and mastery of Chan literature, Steven Heine has written a tour de force. In this first extensive scholarly treatment of the Blue Cliff Record Koan collection, Heine explores how the text, with its open-ended rhetoric of uncertainty, functions toextricate its readers from all assumptions and promote the existential doubt that precedes religious awakening. Scholars and Chan/Zen practitioners alike will relish this innovative and groundbreaking achievement." --Christopher Ives, author of Imperial-Way Zen