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Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism

This book is the first to engage Zen Buddhism philosophically on crucial issues from a perspective that is informed by the traditions of western philosophy and religion. It focuses on one renowned Zen master, Huang Po, whose recorded sayings exemplify the spirit of the 'golden age' of Zen in medieval China, and on the transmission of these writings to the West. The author makes a bold attempt to articulate a post-romantic understanding of Zen applicable to contemporary world culture. While deeply sympathetic to the Zen tradition, he raises serious questions about the kinds of claims that can be made on its behalf.
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Table of Contents

1. Textuality: the 'dependent origination' of Huang Po; 2. Reading: the practice of insight; 3. Understanding: the context of enlightenment; 4. Language: the sphere of immediacy; 5. Rhetoric: the instrument of meditation; 6. History: the genealogy of mind; 7. Freedom: the practice of constraint; 8. Transcendence: 'going beyond' Huang Po; 9. Mind: the 'Great Matter'of Zen; 10. Enlightenment: the awakening of mind; Conclusion: Zen in theory and practice.


'One of the last great books of the century is Dale Wright's critical philosophical meditations on Huang Po ... it represents a culmination of the kind of twentieth century approach to philosophy exemplified by Blofeld, while also marking a transition to a next-century philosophical methodology that is sensitive to the nuances of textual history and the significance of grounding a critical discussion of metaphysical issues in an insightful understanding of the historicity of Huang Po's life and times ... It is clear that Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism, written in a lucid and evocative, yet jargon-free, no-nonsense style will quickly become a standard work for scholars and students interested in an intensive, detailed study of a leading exponent of the classical age of Zen thought.' Steven Heine, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 'How much should we use sophisticated hermeneutical approaches to challenge the Zen tradition's self-understanding? And how much can we use Buddhist insight and meditative techniques to challenge the 'objectivity' of contemporary Buddhist Studies ...? Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism addresses these questions more directly, and answers them more successfully, than anything else I have read on the topic ... Wright's meditations ... show that Zen students need not be afraid of postmodernism, for by dispelling our romanticist preconceptions it can make Zen practice more liberative. Instead of corrosively dismissing old claims about Zen which are no longer tenable ... this book goes far in determining what of a de-mythologized Zen tradition remains alive and important for us today.' David Loy, Asian Philosophy

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