Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Editor’s Preface

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pp. vii-viii

One of the terms from the Zen Buddhist tradition most familiar to the general public in the West is “koan.” And it is not surprising that this is so. Everything from the relatively accessible presentations of East Asian Buddhism that date back half a century, written by authors like...

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Koan Is My Koan

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pp. 1-6

Koans are pithy, perplexing, and oft en paradoxical expressions used in various schools of Zen Buddhism to bring a practitioner to the experience of enlightenment. Typically, a koan case involves a spiritual contest between an enlightened master who tests and bests an...

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1. Origins, Functions, and Modern Receptions of Koans: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives

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pp. 7-35

Koans as concise, confusing, and oft en contradictory sayings expressed by ancient masters serve as the centerpiece of Zen Buddhist learning and training on several levels. First, koans form the central component of a remarkable body of literature contained in voluminous...

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2. Developmental Stages and Rhetorical Strategies: A Historical Overview

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pp. 36-69

The primary aim of this book is to show, through an objective analysis integrating historical and textual studies, that there is a rather clear-cut and consistent set of discernible meanings underlying the aura of mystery surrounding koan literature. Th is study builds...

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3. On Methods to the Madness of Koans: A New Theory of Interpretation

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pp. 70-96

Despite an appearance of disarming simplicity owing to their brevity and wit, koan cases are anything but straightforward and thus are not easily defined or classified. In fact, they are deliberately mystifying and reason defying, if not necessarily irrational, and this inherently...

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4. Personal Transformation: Cases Reflecting Doubt, Experience, and Expression

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pp. 97-128

Buddhism as a major world religious tradition and the Zen school in particular are oft en characterized as representing a middle path that navigates between extreme ideological stances. These standpoints cover philosophical principles, such as absolutism versus relativism...

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5. Monastic Transmission: Cases Reflecting Mythology, Monasticism, and Succession

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pp. 129-159

In a bygone era when the forming and recording of dialogues about the exploits of Zen’s extraordinary masters was being developed, koan literature and practice played a special role in the noteworthy transitions and remarkable growth of the Zen tradition in Chinese society...

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6. Whither Koans, or Wither? Current Trends and Possible New Directions

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pp. 160-188

Since the onset of modernization and globalization more than a century ago, the tradition of Zen Buddhist koan literature and practice has undergone several important kinds of transition and transmutation. These shift s and modifications have generally resulted in a renewed...

Appendix: Koan Case Catalog

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pp. 189-192

Suggested Readings

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pp. 193-196

About the Author

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Back Cover

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