An Essay On Chan

822 words - 3 pages

An Essay Answering Questions From the Assigned Text by Faure
     This essay will attempt to answer questions coming from the Bernard Faure text assigned in class. The questions are as follows: How does Hu Shih’s approach to Chan differ from D.T. Suzuki’s? Why was the scholarship of the Japanese on Zen not objective? What does Faure mean by the teleological fallacy? What does he mean by the two alternative approaches he suggests: structural analysis and hermeneutics?
     How does Hu Shih’s approach to Chan differ form D.T. Suzuki’s? To answer this we must first recognize that Hu Shih emphasizes the historicism of Chan, meaning he places great importance on the historical aspect, while Suzuki aligns himself with the metaphysics aspect. Suzuki states that there are two kinds of people who can talk about Zen: The first(Suzuki), which is one who has a firm grasp on the concepts and greatly understands Zen, the other(Hu Shih), someone who is utterly unable to grab the concepts. Suzuki states that Hu Shih may know Zen historically, but that he does not actually know Zen. Suzuki says about Hu Shih that “it is not a historians business not talk about Zen.” Hu argues that ‘a historic approach to Zen cannot be reduced to the circumstances of its emergence and how it “transmits its situation of departure into a means to understand itself and others.’” Since Hu Shih is from the academic world, his approach to Zen is more factual, while Suziki, coming from a Buddhist institution, relies more on the teachings of Zen and what some see as a certain mysticism around it. Hu Shih sees Chan as a result of Chinese culture, politics, and philosophy, while Suzuki believes it to have just rejected the deviations found in Mahayana while keeping its cardinal truth. Both Hu Shih and Suzuki feel that Chan is a “practical” Chinese way of thinking.
     Why was the scholarship of the Japanese on Zen not objective? The Japanese scholars approach Zen as intellectual history. They refused to judge the materials they study. Nietzchse says they are like “eunuchs in the harem of history,” meaning they have no desire for history itself, like the eunuchs of Rome, castrated men hired to guard harems. But in there defense, pure objectivity is very close to impossible, these scholars are greatly influenced by their own culture, which in turn, is greatly influenced by Zen. Faure points out that the scholars do not critically evaluate the ideological content of what they are studying (i.e. Dunhuang manuscripts), instead they just search for an...

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