Shifting Shape, Shaping Text
Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
This book draws on my fascination with the complex varieties and multiple meanings of the shape-shifting wild fox—a symbol of liminality in East Asian folklore—in order to analyze the theory and practice of Ch’an/Zen Buddhism in its formative period in China and Japan. The book develops a wide range of implications about early Zen by...
Part One: Shape-Shifting
1. Putting the Fox Back in the Fox Kōan
The “wild fox kòan” is one of the most elusive and enigmatic records in the vast repertoire of medieval Ch’an/Zen anecdotes and dialogues. Although it is found in dozens of sources, it is probably best known for its inclusion as the second case in the Wu-men kuan (J. Mumonkan, 1228), a collection of prose and verse commentary on kòans.
2. The Kōan’s Multivalent Discursive Structure
Since its initial publication in the early eleventh century, the fox kòan has inspired diverse and competing interpretations about its ambiguous message concerning the meaning of causality—a message expressed in the highly suggestive symbolism of a folklore narrative. A leading commentator from the Yüan era, Chung-feng Ming-pen (J. Chûhò...
Part Two: Text-Shaping
3. Philosophical Paradigm of Paradoxicality
The main philosophical debate is whether the fox k
4. Deep Faith in Causality
The multilevel ambivalence in Dògen’s writings, which embrace contradictory philosophical interpretations of the fox kòan as well as a flirtation with and repudiation of animistic beliefs in fox veneration, reveals the powerful effects of the folklore force field affecting the unfolding of the kòan tradition in the formative Sung Chinese/Kamakura...
6. Unconcluding Methodological Reflections
...phy/demythology and folklore/mythology in attempting to overcome the hierarchical, two-tiered model of great and little traditions. Our main goal here is not to dispense altogether with the notion of distinct structures as a view that has somehow been superimposed on the k
Appendix I: Translations of Fox Kōan Commentaries
Appendix II: Translation of “Pai-chang’s Monastic Rules”
List of Sino-Japanese Terms
Publication Year: 1999
OCLC Number: 832620445
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