This essay pays special attention to the linguistic strategy in the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch, which centers on thirty-six pairs of things and is said to be used for teaching the doctrine of Chan Buddhism. The strategy reflects a characteristic Chan way of thinking in the earlier phase of the tradition and warrants detailed investigation. Herein is offered a philosophical analysis and rational reconstruction of the strategy to shed light on the sutra’s linguistic thought as well as the way of thinking endorsed by Chan in the Tang dynasty. It is shown that the strategy, based on the interdependence of pairs of concepts, makes provisional use of words to lead the interlocutor to the realization of the middle way of nonduality. It also helps to free the interlocutor’s mind from attachment, definitive understanding, and habitual dualistic thinking.


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pp. 1231-1250
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