Alan Cole

in Fathering Your Father

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780520254848
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943643 | DOI:

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This chapter explores more general questions that have come out of this investigation regarding the form and function of Chan genealogies that have been slowly generated and thickened. It assesses individual claims to having experienced Chan enlightenment, in any era, in the wake of seeing that Chan enlightenment, and the lineages that supposedly delivered it. The chapter emphasizes the whole promise of Religious Studies as a critical discipline, from the beginning, headed in the direction in which understanding the “all-too-human” origins of religions could also be grounds for a kind of liberating flexibility vis-à-vis symbolic orders, a flexibility born of recognizing how these orders were created and consumed. Understanding is required of the mechanisms by which humans devise systems of desire, belief, and closure and this requires being both inside them and outside them. Just this flexibility and irony vis-à-vis meaning and truth sets the stage for some rather profound reflections on human beings.

Keywords: Chan genealogies; Chan enlightenment; Religious Studies; symbolic orders

Chapter.  3468 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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