By Steven Heine
Philosophy East and West
Volume 44, Number 2(April 1994)
PP 251-278

P251 Truths are illusions whose illusionary nature has been forgotten... Nietzsche, Gay Science I.Nishitani and Postmodernism One of the major contributions in Nishitani Keiji's modern philosophical exposition of Zen is his discus- sion of the question of history in a comparative light with Western religious, philosophical, and social scientific approaches. Nishitani's main theme probably is the ideological encounter between religion and science as well as religion and nihilism, as critically seen from the standpoint of Buddhist emptiness ('suunyataa) , or what Kyoto School thinkers refer to as absolute nothingness (zettai mu). Yet, Jan Van Bragt comments in the introduction to his translation of Nishitani's Religion and Nothingness, "From within the Kyoto School, the treatment of history in the final two essays [on "`Suunyataa and Time" and `Suunyataa and History"] has been received as the strongest and most original part of the book. For the Western reader, on the other hand, these chapters may well be the hardest to digest... [for] our view of history seems to be systematically dismantled before our very eyes, stone by stone." Further, in Nishitani "the whole construction [of history as an objectifiable process] is reduced to so much rubble."(1) For Van Bragt, Nishitani's approach to history is significant in the way that he stimulates other Kyoto School thinkers and at the same time "offends" (in the positive Kierkegaardian sense) Westerners whose presuppostions are radically undercut by his penetrating analysis. In his deconstruction of Western notions of history, Nishitani criticizes the linear, teleological view implicit in Christian theocentrism and secular anthropocentrism from the standpoint of the Zen philosophy of circular time. According to Nishitani, both Western approaches are based on an "optical illusion" in that they seek to locate the transhistorical dimension by looking infinitely into the past for a beginning or indefinitely into the future for an end, while failing to realize that "the beginning and end of time in itself lie directly beneath the present, at its home-ground, and it is there that they are to be sought originally."(2) In contrast, Zen emphasizes the spontaneity and creativity of a transhistorical, holistic present moment which encompasses the historical continuity of past and future in terms of an ever-renewable cyclicality and reversibility of time. Nishitani's critique is greatly influenced by Nietzsche's refutation of the Platonic-Christian world view in favor of the "innocence of becoming" (Unschuld des Werdens), and he considers the notion of eternal recur- P252 rence to represent the closest Western approximation of--though it still falls somewhat short of attaining--the self-surpassing Zen perspective. Nishitani's use of Zen as a philosophical tool to dismantle the West represents an interesting and compelling breakthrough in large part because while Zen, and Buddhism in general, deals extensively with the related issues of time, death, and impermanence in explaining the psychological and ontological nature of reality, traditional Zen doctrine does not appear to be particularly well developed with regard to the topic of history. The Zen view of itself as constituting the "direct transmission from selfsame-mind to selfsame-mind" (ishin-denshin) indicates that the enlightenment experience is uniform and identical across generations; such an approach seems to stress the timeless, ahistorical quality of religious fulfillment construed to transcend historical conditioning and to be impervious to historical investigation. For example in his well-known public debate with Zen historian Hu Shih, D. T. Suzuki argued that too much attention to the question of historicality misses the essence of the Zen experience.(3) Indeed, although Nishitani engages in a Zen critique of Western historical consciousness, it is rather more common to find that it is Zen that has been challenged and criticized by recent commentators, from both positivist and deconstructionist perspectives, for its apparent deficiencies and inconsistencies in this area. In the thirty years since the Japanese publication of Religion and Nothingness, there have been two major developments in the historical studies of Zen and the philosophy of history in general that may challenge Nishitani's conclusions. First, positivist historians have demonstrated that Zen lacks a sense of its own historiography in that its historical writings are not reliable as factual accounts but are actually involved in producing a kind of mythical-legendary "pseudohistory."(4) The main genres of Zen literature, especially the "recorded sayings" of the masters and the "transmission of the lamp" histories, became prominent during the Sung dynasty but deal primarily with T'ang dynasty leaders. These writings purport to chronicle the origins and development of the sect but are primarily concerned with using legendary anecdotes expressed in terms of standard mythic themes of pilgrimage and prophecy, predestined encounters and supernatural intervention, and temptation and heroic attainment to hagiologize the lives of leading Zen teachers, including the seminal figures Bodhidharma and Hui-neng, as well as post-Ma-tsu figures such as Lin-chi and Te-shan. Recent historical studies by Yanagida Seizan and Western scholars influenced by his work, including Bernard Faure, Heinrich Dumoulin, and John McRae, among others, seriously question the historicity in the traditional accounts of the major patriarchs. It seems clear now that Bodhidharma and Hui-neng, though not necessarily totally fabricated, can no longer be understood as the substantive historical personages portrayed in the chronicles. From a deconstructionist perspective, the illustrious names of P253 the first and sixth patriarchs may represent no more than convenient designations to which texts and doctrines crucial for the advancement of the sect have been attributed by subsequent generations.(5) It is not necessarily unusual or surprising for a tradition to "invent"(6) itself by writing its history backwards, or for a religion to mythologize and hagiologize its leaders. Yet this mythicization may be disconcerting because it seems to go against the grain of the message of Zen masters' teaching. Typically the goal of their instruction is just the opposite of myth-making. To attain enlightenment, Zen requires the demythologization through face-to-face dialogical encounter with an attained master, of any conceptual fixation or delusion in the mind of disciples, and points directly to a spiritual fulfillment expressed through such concrete particulars as "mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers, " "carrying water and chopping wood is the wonderful Tao," "when tired I eat, when hungry I sleep," and "everyday mind itself is buddha." Thus, there appears to be a gap between the truth of the enlightenment experience Zen proposes in master-disciple dialogues and the method of depicting its leading representatives in the chronicles. In other words, there is a fundamental irony pervading Zen literature concerning the source dialogues: Zen mythologizes, at times perhaps excessively so, precisely about the ability of its masters to demythologize pedagogically through face-to-face dialogue at any opportunity. Yet modern exponents of Zen, including Nishitani, probably have been somewhat oblivious to, or have accepted uncritically, the mythical content and narrative structure of its writings. Consequently, it can be argued that Zen must come to recognize and justify its own sense of narrative history before it can be utilized by Nishitani as a means of refuting the view of history typical of the West. In addition, three decades ago, Nishitani's work was greatly influenced by and yet sought to surpass the major trend in continental philosophy at the time, Heideggerian phenomenology, which in turn was based largely on an overcoming of Nietzsche's notion of will to power. Since then, however, key developments in postmodern thought, also seeking to go beyond Nietzsche and Heidegger, have continued to question the conventional linear teleology that became dominant in the nineteenth century. Intellectual historians and philosophers of history such as Barthes, Foucault, Lyotard, Ricoeur, and White, responding especially to the Nietzschean view of the multiple perspectives of truth, no longer see history merely as an objective (or external) and linear (or sequential) process, as Nishitani charges, but as a tropological form of discourse or an unfolding self-critical literary structure that "contain(s) an irreducible and inexpungeable element of interpretation."(7) That is, history is not the cataloguing of a chronological sequence of facts but the dynamic reordering of time in the telling of a narrative, which is "the syntagmatic dispersion of events across a temporal series P254 presented as a prose discourse."(8) Narrative theorist Robert Scholes maintains, for example, that "there is no recording, only constructing reality" --that is, no objective reality but an open-ended "text" which simultaneously engages author and reader, narrator and interpreter. Dramatist Eugene lonesco suggests, "Realism does not exist. Everything is invention. Even realism is invented. Reality is not realistic."(9) Also, literary critic Roland Barthes, influenced by Buddhist contemplation, maintains, "the writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world (the world as function) is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system...which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages.(10) Therefore, it seems that postmodernism has already developed a response to Nishitani's critique. Further, one might contend that it is more plausible to evoke postmodern narrative theory as a way of accounting for Zen's self-presentation through mythicized chronicles than it is to use Zen in order to dismantle Western thought. Narrative theory and discourse analysis have been applied in recent years to other scriptural traditions, especially Biblical criticism, and this functions as a middle way between factually oriented historiographical and conceptually minded philosophical approaches.(11) The aim of this essay is to initiate a reevaluation of Nishitani's Zen critique of Western notions of history in light of the challenges and objections to traditional Zen historicality raised by recent developments in historical studies of Zen and in philosophy of history in the West. The conclusions will highlight the way that narrative discourse can be seen as a point of convergence between Zen and postmodernism by analyzing the legend of Bodhidharma and the "skin, flesh, bones, and marrow" dialogue attributed to the first patriarch as a narratological and tropological literary form. II. Nishitani's Zen Critique of Western Approaches to History Nishitani's main aim in Religion and Nothingness (original Japanese title: Shukyo to wa nanika, or What is Religion?) is to analyze the ways that traditional religion, especially Christianity, encounters and responds to several forces in modern society which conflict with, challenge, and negate it. These forces include science, which seeks to replace religion by explaining the origin and structure of the universe based on reason rather than revelation; nihilism, which negates all truth claims, particularly otherworldly or supernatural ones; and secularism, which represents a gradual undermining of traditional spiritual values and customs by giving priority to finite, material pursuits. Nishitani considers that genuine spirituality has been kept alive in the West not so much through mainstream religiosity but through what could be called the suprareligious mystical longing for divine unity in Eckhart and St. Francis as well as the extrareligious philosophical quest for existential authenticity in Sartre and Nietzsche. Yet he P255 also maintains that Zen is an ideal tool with which to survey critically and to overcome self-reflectively Western thought because it represents an "excelsior" or self-surpassing (kojo) attitude not bound to any particular point of view, even its own historical or ideological background in Buddhist doctrine.(12) Therefore, Zen is not merely an alternative to Christianity but the paradigmatic, nonfixated ideology that exposes the orgin of the forces that contradict and stifle the vitality of religion. In asking which of the these forces--science, nihilism, or secularism--has the most devastating impact on religion, Nishitani's response is that ironically Christianity itself lies at the root and must bear responsibility for creating the very trends that threaten to negate it. Nihilism may seem to be the most significant challenge to religion because it denies any possibility of finding meaning even in scientific investigation. Yet Nihitani sees nihilism as a by-product of the scientific assertion of lifeless matter; he agrees with Heidegger that nihilism arose as a historical stage in connection with the onset of--and it is therefore a unique response to--modernization. On the other hand, secularism, which seems to be another consequence of the scientific, technologized era, severely undermines religion because, unlike science, it does not even attempt to engage in the kind of dialogue that may in the end strengthen the ideology of religion; secularism has the deteriorating effect of "rust, " caused by indifference, that eats away slowly but surely at the very structure of traditional religious life. Science appears to oppose religious faith in the supernatural with its logical approach to natural law, but for Nishitani, scientism is the converse of religion that is still fundamentally of the same origin as Christianity. The key to understanding the connection between religion and science is to see that both are a product of the Christian view of time and history. Christianity developed its linear teleology as a way of going beyond the primal, mythical sense of circular time. Mythical circularity is based on externally arranged cycles such as the seasonal rotation determining the fertility, growth, and harvest of crops, and it must be distinguished from the circular time of Buddhist thought, which is subjectively realized through the meditative awareness of an "eternal now."(13) For Christianity, time begins with creation caused by a transhistorical being (God), and the unfolding of history is a sequence of dramatic events from the sins of Adam through the death and resurrection of Christ and building toward a final eschatological culmination guided by a new, desperately needed transhistorical intervention (Second Coming). Scientific and secular approaches to history may deny the role of a transhistorical power, but in seeking to discover and explain the origin or cause of things in the past and the attainment of progress in the future, they represent a projection of the teleological position seeming to go outside but still operating within the linear framework of Christianity. Nishitani writes: P256 Although the views of history found in Christianity and in the Enlightenment represent diametrically opposed points of view, they both concur in recognizating a meaning in history. From its standpoint of theocentric faith, Christianity sees a divine providence... operative in history; the Enlightenment, from its anthropocentric standpoint of reason, locates the telos of history in the consummate rationalization of human life.(14) Nishitani agrees that Nietzsche's "creative nihilism" attempts to encompass the totality of new creations in history. But he also seems to concur with Heidegger's critique of eternal recurrence as the ceaseless perpetuation of the will to will based on an infinite regression into the past. Thus, eternal recurrence does not fully capture the bottomless present moment in which, according to Buddhism, the circularity of past and future are contained. In order to revitalize Christianity in terms of the genuine ground of circular time, Nishitani recommends a radical existentialization and demythologization of the main events of Christian cosmology and teleology. In this way, "the most solemn moments of Christianity... [including] the meatanoia to faith that represents the solemn moment when the solemnity of those other moments is truly realized" are transformed by way of demythologizing linear, teleological history into a sense of "gathering all those times within the home-ground of the present." Furthermore, this home-ground is a matter not of external time but of authentic existential realization in that "Dasein [human existence] realizes the solemnity of the present as a monad of eternity, and thereby realizes all times in their solemnity."(15) As Masao Abe explains in his analysis of Nishitani, this monad moves neither backward nor forward but "can be properly realized only by overcoming both the regressive and the progressive movements together with the very dimension on which these two opposing movements are taking place."(16) A prime example of true awareness of circular time in Zen is Dogen's doctrine of the unity of practice and realization, or the inseparability of a continuing, sustained exertion and a fundamental awakening: "As one practices, " Dogen writes, "one must not anticipate realization apart from practice in that practice points directly to original realization."'(17) Dogen also maintains the "unceasing circulation of continuous practice" (gyojidokan), such that "the Way [of buddhas and patriarchs] is circulating ceaselessly without even the slightest gap between resolution, practice, enlightenment and nirvana."(18) Perhaps the most striking parallel in Western thought to this understanding of the transhistorical eternal now is the William Blake verse: To see a world in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.(19) P257 III. Historicality and Narrative History: Two Challenges to Nishitani's Zen The aim of this section is to take a closer look at two recent challenges to Nishitani's view of the philosophical superiority of the Zen approach to history. One of these involves issues within the sect and refers to questions raised from the standpoint of modern historiography concerning deficiencies in the traditional Zen method of presenting its own history This challenge is twofold, because it involves both Zen scholasticism in Sung China and contemporary studies of Zen that have presupposed a teleological model of history. The other challenge pertains to developments in postmodern thought that have shown that there are Western alternatives to the nineteenth-century style of history Nishitani criticizes, especially in terms of narrative theory. The combined impact of the two challenges is to highlight and explore the narrative structure of Zen chronicles now seen not as a deficient means of writing history but as a way of legitimizing the sect through the deliberate selection of a form of discourse that is fully compatible with the demythological aim of Zen philosophy. A. Zen and Historicality. Nishitani's strategy in using Zen to critique the West is to elevate the issue of history to a higher, more metaphysical level in terms of the dynamic unity of time and eternity, allowing for the uniqueness of particular events. But recent investigations have raised serious questions about the historicity of the leading figures depicted in Zen literature on a lower, more practical level of factuality and verifiability. In order to appreciate this issue, it is necessary to review briefly the relation between the three main genres of Zen texts: lamp histories, expecially the Keitoku dentoroku (1004); recorded sayings, including the Shike goroku (early Sung), covering four masters, Ma-tsu, Pai-chang, Huang-po, and Lin-chi; and koan collections such as the Hekiganroku (1128) and the Mumonkan (1229).(20) The first two genres are chronicles and thus primarily historical and biographical: the lamp histories trace the genealogy of the sect, beginning with the seven primordial buddhas and culminating in `Saakyamuni, in a refined classical style, and the recorded sayings focus on the life and teachings of remarkable individual masters using a more rustic, colloquial style.(21) The koan collections are primarily theoretical, and highlight the pedagogical significance of paradigmatic anecdotes with prose and poetic commentaries.(22) As Yanagida Seizan has shown, the literary unit that forms the basis for all these genres is the "transmission or satori dialogue" (kien-mondo), a spontaneous encounter, first associated with the teaching of Ma-tsu, in which an enlightened master displays an uncanny knack for exposing and overcoming the conceptual fixation of a disciple, often by using wordplay, paradox, non sequitur, Or some nonverbal gesture such as the iconoclastic "sticks and shouts" of Te-shan and Lin-chi.(23) P258 Most of the dialogues are attributed to T'ang dynasty masters subsequent to Ma-tsu and were initially contained in T'ang works such as the Horinden (801), but these did not become prominent until the T'ang writings were absorbed into and given a systematic application in the transmission-of-the-lamp histories that became popular and developed rapidly during the early Sung.(24) The Sung was marked by a proliferation of multiple forms of expression when, according to Yun-hua Jan, "we find a large and unprecedented number of [historical] works."(25) While the pace of composition reached the accelerated rate of one major chronicle written every eight years, the concern for accuracy was severely diminished, so that this apparently was the time Zen was busy creatively writing its history backwards.(26) The chronicles consist largely of fabrications and legends attributed retrospectively to famous patriarchs and falsely projected as factual, yet in these works factuality is obliterated by sacred myth and hagiography. Zen chronicles not only exaggerate and defy common sense but are often based on claims of prophecies and oracles, heavenly signs and portents, premonitions and predestinations, infant awareness, and fateful encounters. The Horinden itself (some of which is irretrievably lost) has been described as "partially a creation and partially a 'historical' arrangement of many old and new legends about the Indian and Chinese patriarchs and Ch'an masters, starting with the Seven Buddhas of the Past up to Ma-tsu inclusively." Concerning its usefulness for examining the life of Ma-tsu, for example, "the report about Ma-tsu's own role... has been lost; we are therefore dependent on later works which are presumably based on the [Horinden]."(27) Furthermore, a textual archaeology that tries to discover an authentic source of historicality for the chronicles will undoubtedly prove fruitless due to the exaggerations and general unreliability of the lamp histories, of which Kenneth Ch'en writes, "the standard Ch'an history, Record of the Transmission of the Lamp [Jpn Keitoku dentoroku], was written almost four centuries after the events, and during that interval numerous Ch'an legends must have been fabricated and inserted into the account."(24) Philip B. Yampolsky sums up the approach to history found in Zen chronicles by arguing, "in the manufacture of this history, accuracy was not a consideration.... The few facts that are known can, perhaps, also be molded into a nice story, but it is one surrounded by doubts, lacunae, and inconsistencies... [and] almost certainly untrue."(29) One of the difficulties in the way Zen history has been presented in contemporary scholarship derives from the nineteenth-century teleological model of history that is followed by most historians of Zen. The teleological model is problematic in that it betrays a modern tendency, as exposed by Nietzsche and Foucault, (30) to expect history to follow recognizable patterns leading to clearly designated goals. The teleological approach reconstructs the life of a Zen master by piecing together p259 references to his exploits scattered throughout the various chronicles. Thus it tends to rely on internal sources within the Zen tradition that have something at stake ideologically in presenting an orderly view of their own history. The result is that some modern historians of Zen, who do an otherwise first-rate job of working with original texts, take their hermeneutic cue somewhat uncritically from sectarian sources---an unfortunate and often counterproductive coincidence between the expectations of contemporary scholars and the polemics of traditional texts.(31) Teleological historians at times accept the conflation of myth and history offered by Zen, and thereby echo and perpetuate what McRae labels the "string of pearls" approach to the lineage of masters. This, McRae writes, "create(s) a sequence of vivid snapshots of the patriarchs, each with his own biography and set of teaching, much like a beautiful necklace of identical pearls. Alas, from the standpoint of history we find that the pearls are illusory and the necklace only a convenient fiction. There is virtually nothing that is known about [Zen] during the seventh century that does not come down to us filtered through the perspective of the eighth century or later periods."(32) On the other hand, in viewing the development of Zen writings from a teleological or sequential standpoint, the mythical, narrative quality of the chronicles is frequently overlooked in that it is seen as a necessary stage, a stepping-stone that is also a partial obstacle leading up to and negating itself in reaching the status of demythologized koan. According to the lamp histories, the dialogues that were said to have originated during the T'ang were, in the later Sung (twelfth and thirteenth centuries), extracted from out of the mythical chronicles and given prominence as the "paradigmatic cases" (kosoku) of the koan collections. Although both kinds of dialogue are genuinely undogmatic, unlike the sustained, intricate, and dialectically progressive Socratic dialogues, Zen dialogues are brief, allusive, and epiphanous.(33) The ideological and stylistic connection between the dialogues and koans is that both reflect the subitist soteriology and iconoclastic epistemology of Zen. From this perspective, the historical evolution of Zen literature is considered to involve necessarily a process of distillation and abbreviation so that the wordiness of the chronicles is condensed in the koan collections as a way of rediscovering the misplaced pithy dialogues. As Robert Buswell maintains, "[Koanintrospection Zen] may thus be seen as the culmination of a long process of evolution in Zen whereby its subitist rhetoric came to be extended to pedagogy and finally to practice."(34) The tendency to abbreviate reached its final stage in the "shortcut" practice perfected by Ta-hui, which was crucial to the rise of Rinzai Zen in Korea and Japan, of citing only the "main or essential phrase" (wato) that sometimes contains just a single word or syllable such as "Mu."(35) However, a history of Zen literature that presupposes this linear, P260 sequential development is questionable because it is not accurate from a historiographical standpoint, and at the same time it is not faithful to the narratological aims of the chronicles. For one thing, the compositiion of Zen writings did not occur in the order so indicated, for, in fact, the three genres all pretty much appeared at the same time in the early Sung. While it is true that the famous koan collections such as the Hekiganroku were composed nearly a hundred and fifty years after the earliest lamp history, Yuan-wu's work was based on a century-old collection (1026) by Hsueh-tou, and the earliest koan compilation was actually put togethes just at the same time as the first and most famous of the lamp histories.(36) In addition, all the genres were continually being worked on throughout the Sung dynasty and beyond. Furthermore, the koans are certainly not devoid of many of the same mythical, folktale elements found in the chronicles, and these are used in intimate connection with demythologization, as in the case of Pai-chang's encounter with a monk involved in spirit possession and reincarnation as a fox.(37) Thus, the teleological explanation tends to over- look the profound intertextuality of the chronicles and koan collections, which almost always shared the same seemingly limitless pool of anecdotes, dialogues, and legends. The genres did not develop in a sequential order with an internal logic of first losing and then finding the dialogues. Rather, the leading examples of each genre were composed around the same time, and the dialogues themselves may have been created retrospectively, at least in part, to form a narrative that serves to legitimize and idealize the leaders of the main surviving sect after the short-lived but consequential imperial suppression of Buddhism in China in 845.(38) AS Foucault and others indicate, modes of discourse are never far removed from struggles for power and approval.(39) The genres represent complementary and interdependent approaches to organizing common material: the chronicles use prototypical mythical themes of pilgrimage, prophecy, and predestined meetings to create romanticized narratives of the lives of eminent masters and thereby establish the continuity of generation-to-generation lineage; and the koan collections stress the tropological structure inherent in the kind of radical demythologizing the masters undertake so as to overcome all discursive, symbol-generating thinking. But while failing to account for the significance of the narrative style of the chronicles, the "string of pearls" method takes for granted the illusory view of history offered in the lamp histories concerning the spontaneity of the masters who supposedly created the transmission dialogues. Western researchers influenced by Yanagida have analyzed the source of and challenged the hagiographical halo surrounding many of the Zen patriarchs, and this skepticism has been carried to the extent of questioning the historicity of figures such as Bodhidharma and Hui-neng.(40) P261 However, too much skepticism also neglects the key issue of discourse analysis, or of examining Zen discourse from the standpoint of textuality rather than strict historicality: what is the literary structure and function of the legends themselves which contain the dialogues with which the Zen writings are preoccupied? Because of the gap between the time of the oral sources and the written compositions, some scholars view the Sung works---both the chronicles and koan collections which give priority to precedent over creativity--as a sign of decline and a nostalgic hope for recapturing the lost spontaneity of a bygone classical period. Others interpret the Sung as the period of genuine creativity for synthesizing the otherwise disparate materials of an earlier time, and accord it the label of "golden age."(41) A third standpoint, borrowing from either positivism or deconstructionism, finds the Sung writings to be a time of inventing, or at least fancifully remembering, an essentially forgotten tradition which may or may not have ever existed in the pure form depicted in the chronicles. One way out of the impasse between fact and fabri- cation, myth and history, and apologetics and skepticism is to analyze Zen not in terms of factual history but literary history. This approach, according to John Maraldo, "would focus on the evolution of literary forms but avoid claims about their internal representation or misrepresentation of historical reality... [such that] literary patterns serve as the measure for determining the identity of linguistic forms."(42) (To a large extent the studies of Suzuki and Nishitani function in this way, though their work is not identified as such.) (43) The question for the historian then becomes one of looking beyond the issue of verifying or disproving the historicality of Zen legends in order to discover the "spiritual ideal" or "religious paradigm" underlying Zen's elaborate mythicization.(44) As Yanagida strongly suggests in his major work on the formation of the transmission literature, studies of this material that are aimed merely at discrediting its historical claims are unsatisfactory unless researchers are sympathetic and able to penetrate to the level of "sacred narrative" (shukyo-setsuwateki) by which the chronicles function.(45) In evaluating the relation between dialogues and chronicles from a literary standpoint, the issue is not one of defining classical and postclassical epochs, or of arguing for or against the verifiability of the historical claims of the texts. Rather, the aim of literary criticism or discourse analysis is to show that the apparent contradiction between truth and method in the dialogues and chronicles is resolvable by analyzing the diverse ways the genres have captured and/or deliberately misplaced the underlying dialogical unit within the context of the religious symbolism of a larger literary structure. In order to accomplish this task, it is helpful to survey several recent theories in narrative history and tropological discourse. P262 B. Postmodern Narrative Theory. The second challenge to Nishitani's Zen critique of the West involves the increasing sensitivity concerning the problematics of linear, teleological time posited by postmodern thinkers. Postmodernists no longer view history as an objective movement from beginning to end of externalized time, but as an internally interpretive process that provides a basis for the overlapping and inseparability of past, present, and future. Like Nishitani, many postmodernists trace their critical stance back to Nietzschean multiperspectivism. However, postmodernists are less interested in the attempted conjoining of time and eternity in the notion of eternal recurrence than in Nietzsche's analysis of the various ways historical thinking has been exercised in the essay contained in the Untimely Meditations, "On the Uses and Abuses of History." Here Nietzsche analyzes three approaches to appropriating the meaning of past events: the monumentalistic, which concentrates on peak heroic moments; the antiquarian, which is the pious and reverent acceptance of the past as an object of respect; and the critical, which judges what has transpired without illusion or mercy.(46) While the first two approaches follow a teleological model, the third reveals the flaws they inevitably contain, though at times this is done from an admittedly overly harsh perspective. In an essay evaluating and extending Nietzsche's contribution to the question of history, Foucault sets up a contrast between the conventional teleological approach and what is termed "effective" history, which focuses on differences and distances, discontinuity and plurality, rather than projecting an abstract ideal of uniformity.(47) Thus, for many postmodernists, history is not an objective sequence of occurrences but a verbal image of reality that reflects the way language is used rhetorically (that is, tropologically) to construct a form of discourse for which there is no essence but only texts, and "no Logos... only hieroglyphs."(48) Discourse analysis tries to view language not from the standpoint of linguistics, semiotics, or hermeneutics but as the fabric of verbal and nonverbal, oral and written decentric signs and symbols woven into a tapestry of tangled, intertextualized texts. The primary structure of historical discourse is narration, which describes events selectively so as to inform the audience of a message or to instruct it in a set of beliefs. The persuasiveness of narrativity derives from emplotment--that is, the capacity for organizing the flow of historical time as a whole, with all the pertinent material included and the rest filtered out (including of course, what historiographers consider pertinent data). While a narrative traces time back to an inaugural event that establishes a repetitive pattern and projects ahead for the sake of posterity to a conclusive end, it is focused on a pivotal, epiphanous moment that provides the context and texture for all preceeding and succeeding occasions. The epiphany, which "forms the prism through which everything that transpires must be filtered,"(49) establishes a polarity of good versus evil or delusion versus P263 enlightenment associated with the time before and after the event. However, the event itself is not some literal or substantive entity, but is "characterized by the mode of figurative discourse in which [it is] cast."(50) That is, narratives rely upon figures of speech to provide the informational and evocative power that connects them to the desired audience response. Because a narrative still operates more or less within a linear framework of beginning and end, Nishitani would likely argue that narrative theory falls short of attaining a transhistorical, eternal now. Yet, Nishitani's Zen critique of Western views of history becomes somewhat suspect and muted by the recent historiographical criticism of Zen. There is a credibility gap, to use Nietzschean terminology, between Zen's critical ideal and its actual monumentalistic practice. Paul Ricoeur suggests that there are various dimensions of historical time that function as a bridge connecting ordinary clock-time and "universal time"; one of these involves tracing the line of succession of generations who are commemorated by archival collections of texts and memorabilia. The concern with succession, Ricoeur points out, is generally related to setting up traditionality,(51) and this seems to be where the Zen chronicles are located--at a limited, imperfect sense of time rather than, as Nishitani suggests, the "excelsior" or self-surpassing one. On the other hand, one of the aims of postmodern thought is to demonstrate that narrativity that is executed for the sake of traditionality is not necessarily a flawed or deficient approach to history. Perhaps the Zen narrative represents a vehicle chosen not out of naivete but in order to carry out the selfsurpassing, transhistorical message Nishitani has highlighted. IV. Narratological and Tropological Structure of the Bodhidharma Legend and Dialogue What is needed, then, for an understanding of the role of historicality In Zen is a middle ground between Nishitani's overemphatic affirmation of the superiority of Zen and the overstated criticism of the Zen chronicles by some historians. The key to accomplishing this is to show the relation between the elaborate, systematic, mythical narrative of the chronicles and the concrete, anecdotal, demythologizing message of the dialogues and koans. In this section, I will argue against the conventional, teleological view of Zen literature that sees the chronicles serving the dialogues by acting as a kind of "loose-leaf" storehouse from which the essential material can be picked at will. Instead, I suggest that the dialogues serve the chronicles by functioning as the basic literary unit that is carefully crafted and selected to promote and advance the narrative texture. This involves analyzing how the dialogue operates on two insepacable levels: one is to see the way it contributes to the macro or extensional level of the larger narratological structure, and the other is to break P264 down the figures of speech in the actual exchange of words in terms of the micro or intensional level of the tropological structure. AS Dale Wright argues, narrative is selected as a form of expression in Zen chronicles not out of ignorance of a better approach to recording history, but due to a deliberate decision to find the most appropriate manner of communicating its sense of lineage and inheritance.(52) In addition to the points mentioned above, narrative is useful because, as Jean-francais Lyotard notes, it is a form of discourse which in the right setting communicates more persuasively and pervasively with its audience than a scientific explication of knowledge. Narrative is instructional by transmitting wisdom to insiders of a lineage through figures of speech and wordplay, and transactional in engaging the reader as participant in the events depicted by setting up an alternative rhythm of time."(53) Roland Barthes further stresses the transactional element by describing the evocative mutuality and intimacy of the author (which he refers to as the "writerly" dimension of a text) and the reader (or "readerly" dimension), who partakes of the "pleasure of the text" through joyous reading.(54) A survey of recent theories of narration indicates that there are several main factors generating the narrative structure: there is a basic literary unit or kernel of composition that is synthesized alter considerable thematic conflict into at least two higher, more complex levels--one consisting of character development and the other of overall plot or theme--by virtue of a restructuring of time to attain an inseparability and translinearity of past, present, and future revolving around pivotal, epiphanous moments.(55) In Zen chronicles, the satori dialogue--dialogue is the "preeminent enactment" for it involves showing rather than mere telling(56)--is the basic unit or nucleus that acts as a catalyzer for the complexity of narration. The synthetic levels are, first, the remarkable transformational experiences of individual Zen masters, as portrayed in the recorded sayings, and, second, the uniform process of transmission from master-to-master dating from time immemorial to the present day, as depicted in the lamp histories. The chronicles thus use the dialogues to mythologize and hagiologize the line of succession of masters whose lives fit into a common pattern, which recalls the analysis of liminality in the rite of passage of heroic missions as suggested by van Gennep, Turner, and Campbell.(57) The first stage is the agonizing doubt and sense of hopelessness by someone of impassioned hope concerning the proper interpretation of traditional doctrine, often involving the meaning of a perplexing line from the sutras, and the consequent prolonged impasse in enlightenment leading to an endless search for the right teacher.(58) Part of the torment and perplexity is due to the contention that there are so very few authentic teachers left. Then, after years of special training comes the sudden, dramatic breakthrough experience of satori, usually occuring after the disciple has been shamed or humiliated to a point P265 beyond hope and hopelessness, will and no-will, by an almost brashly self-confident yet incorruptible master who understands just how to extricate him from his conceptual fixation, often by using an absurd gesture such as shouting, stamping, or hitting with a stick, or by some form of outrageous humor.(59) The final stage is the continuing quest of the newly anointed successor to determine the appropriate heir to the lineage, whose approval requires initiatory testing through verbal and/or nonverbal exchange and who is capable of eventually surpassing the master. The function of the dialogue on the lower synthetic level is to create a concrete and vitally human situational context through which satori spontaneously occurs. The dialogue captures the moment of liberation, so that temporality is experienced in terms of peaks and valleys relative to the time before and after attainment. Since the two participants in the conversation represent the timeless paradigms of enlightenment and delusion, the already-attained and the yet-to-be, the reader is transactionally engaged to place him- or herself into the scene; that is, playfully to imagine how to respond to a strict, uncompromising master's query or to size up a stubbornly deluded disciple. On the higher synthetic level, the aim of the chronicles is to fashion a narrative discourse that tells "history" in the sense of depicting the origins, continuity-in-change, and intermittent periods of closure of the distinctive way the Zen sect has been transmitting the dharma. The dialogue becomes a window to the "fusion of [temporal] horizons,"(60) and serves here as an internal, ideological symbol of authentic transmission from teacher to disciple that is more powerful than the visible, tangible symbol of the Bodhidharma's begging bowl that was used in earlier times.(61) The chronicles disavow historiography because their philosophy dictates that the main characters of the narrative--the attained masters--are not substantive entities but represent interchangeable and transpositional possibilities for self-discovery. Thus, intertextuality leads us into what can be called the "interpersonality" concerns of the text for which the hero, as Faure writes, "should be interpreted as a textual and religious paradigm and not be reconstructed as a historical figure or a psychological essence."(62) The combined impact of the two synthetic levels is to create a mode of discourse delivering a message especially pertinent to the post-845 era of Chinese religion and culture. After the suppression of Buddhism, which left its sophistocated scholastic tradition discredited and largely abandoned, the Zen masters as described in the dialogical chronicles laid claim to representing the living embodiment of the dharma without the need for recourse to a higher authority or source of truth, such as scripture, ritual, or scriptural exegesis.(63) Yet Zen's ideal of lineal precedent, transmission, and succession gained credence in evoking the gurudisciple relationship typical of some Indian traditions.(64) This enabled the P266 Zen sect to compete with three rival forms of Chinese religiosity. For instance, the Zen emphasis on personal cultivation and attainment underlying doctrinal learning appealed to the humanistic attitude of the dominant class of neo-Confucian scholar-officials (shih-tai-fu) .(65) Also, the oracular and shamanistic qualities in the legends of deified masters like Bodhidharma made them the rival of the immortal saints of the leading hagiocentric folk religion, popular Taoism, and the formulaic-repetitive quality of the dialogues that were easy to memorize and recite offered a spiritual technique comparable to the nien-fo (Jpn nembutsu) chant of Pure Land Buddhism. The uniqueness of Zen in this cultural setting--also influenced by philosophical Taoism, particularly Chuang Tzu's extraordinary facility with "goblet words" as well as neo-Taoist colloquies (ch'ing-t'an) --pertains to the way the dialogues and koans seek to demythologize transhistorically the myths concerning the sect's heroes, or to the profound interaction between the building up and deconstructing of mythical discourse. The quintessential example of this twofold tendency is the account of Bodhidharma, referred to in the Horinden (801) and later chronicles as the twenty-eighth Zen patriarch and the first on Chinese soil. Bodhidharma is depicted in the chronicles as the third son of a king who crossed the Yangtze on a single reed, meditated for nine years facing the wall of a cave till his legs withered away before gaining enlightenment, and commanded his foremost disciple to cut off his arm during a snowstorm as proof of his dedication. In some versions of the legend, Bodhidharma is deified in that he performs supernatural feats, including conquering illness, poison, and death. In contemporary Japanese culture, limbless Daruma dolls (symbolizing that arms and legs have been cast off after years of sitting meditation) are used as a sign of good fortune and divine protection. Most of the later Zen masters are depicted not as miracle workers but in more down-to-earth fashion, yet supernatural events like prophetic dreams, preordained encounters, and natural signatures for human affairs almost invariably accompany each stage of their path. But the process of demythologization that the masters' personal example and doctrinal instruction represents is also reflected in aspects of the myth. Some of the more radically iconoclastic examples of this are Te-shan's burning of the sutras out of disgust for textual studies and Lin-chi's proclaiming "if you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha" in disdain for iconographic and hagiographic worship. For Bodhidharma demythologization is epitomized by his legendary interview with Emperor Wu, which was perhaps introduced into the traditional account by Shen-hui in 732 and by the time of the Keitoku dentoroku in 1004 had become the "most popular and enduring of [Zen] legends."(66) According to this tale, Bodhidharma instructed the emperor that copying sutras and building temples would gain him "no merit" far, indeed, there is only "vas P267 emptiness, nothing sacred, " such that "I [Bodhidharma, which means "faw of wisdom"] do not even know [my own name]."(67) Furthermore, the legend of Bodhidharma's arrival in China is itself demythologized by several koans concerning the question, "What is the meaning of the first patriarch's coming from the west?" In case 37 of the Mumonkan, Chao-chou responds with the non sequitur, "The oak tree in the front garden," and in case 20 of the Hekiganroku, both Ts'ui Wei and Lin-chi retort with the negation, "there is no meaning." Also, Ma-tsu's response to the query is to kick the disciple/inquirer, who is subitaneously awakened as a result,(68) and in yet another encounter dialogue, a master when asked this question sands on one leg and then hits his uncomprehending student. What precisely is the relation between the mythical and demythical tendencies in Zen discourse? Are they in conflict or compatible, and if the latter, is this generated by design or accident? One way of resolving this issue to point out an extraordinary parallel between one of the most famous dialogues attributed to Bodhidharma, in which the first patriarch questions his four leading disciples, who are vying to become the anointed dharma-heir, and the modern analysis of the "four master tropes" of narrative rhetoric by Vico, Kenneth Burke, and, most recently, Hayden White. According to White, the first three of the master tropes--metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche-- establish identity through comparison and association, while the fourth trope--irony--calls into question and undercuts any fixation with the analogies contrived therein. White describes the dynamic movement of discourse in terms of what he calls the erratic diatactical shifting--rather than the logical dialectical progression--between tropes as follows: The archetypal plot of discursive formations appears to require that the narrative "I" of the discourse move from an original metaphorical characterization of a domain of experience, through metonymic deconstructions of its elements, to synecdochic representations of the relations between its superfic al attributes and its presumed essence, to, finally. a representation of whatever contrast or oppositions can legitimately be discerned in the totalities identified in the third phase of discursive representations.(69) The movement between tropes is played out very close to the way White describes it as Bodhidharma asks his disciples to display their knowledge by succinctly summing up the essence of the dharma.(70) The first disciple says, "Neither cling to words and letters nor dispense with them altogether, but only use them as an instrument of Tao." This answer suggests an understandinh of the metaphoric or instrumental quality of language, as when Buddhism compares the illumination of the Buddha-nature to the light of the sun or moon, its universality to an ocean and its waves, and its cyclicality to the roots and branches of a tree. Bodhidharma responds to the disciple, "You have gained my skin," which implies that P268 a metaphorical analogy, though valuable as a pedagogical tool, reflects a relatively superficial level of insight. Or, as Ma-tsu answers when asked why he asserts "mind itself is buddha," "it is in order to stop the baby's crying."(71) However, the second disciple's response, which gains Bodhidharma's "flesh," is more profound: "It is like Ananda's viewing the Buddha-land of [paradise], seeing it once and never again." This represents a metonymic or indirect, contiguous association of the Buddha-land and the unmentioned dharma that at once reinforces and begins to undercut metaphor by the final phrase, suggesting the fleetingness of the analogy.(72) Zen dialogues frequently rely upon metonymy through wordplay, punning and homophones to cut off an attachment to metaphorical comparison based on resemblance. For instance, in the Mumonkan, case no.41, Bodhidharma makes a liberating wordplay when he tells Hui-k'o, who is thus made to realize that he cannot literally bring forth his mind to be pacified, "Behold, I have pacified your mind." Then, the third disciple indicates another level of identity beyond metaphor by saying, "The four elements are all empty, the five skandhas are all unreal, there is not a thing that can be grasped." This synecdochic equalization of the elements and skandhas as microcosm with ultimate reality, or of the part with the whole, which gains the first patriarch's "bones, " is especially emphasized in Hua-yen and T'ien-t'ai holistic metaphysical doctrines such as "three thousand [dharma-realms] in a single thought" (ichinen sanzen). But when the fourth disciple simply bows reverently without even opening his mouth--an ironic undermining of the limitations and contradictions in the first three answers--Bodhidharma's approval is expressed by, "You have gained my marrow." Zen dialogues specialize in evoking irony by exploiting the opacity, elusiveness, and enigmatic quality of language through omission, ambiguity, oxymoron, paradox, and reticence, as in the oft-repeated paradoxical refrain, "explain the dharma without speaking and without remaining silent, or by using neither words nor no-words."(73) In Biblical religion, nomen is the basis of numen, but for Zen numen is often the absence, negation, or withholding of nomen. Further, Zen also displays the flexibility to return from the depths of irony to a seemingly simple "surface" affirmation of the concrete particulars of everyday reality, as in "mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers."(74) For example, Nishitani stresses the importance of letting the thing (koto) speak for itself, as in his emphasis on Basho's verse, "From the pine tree learn (the koto) of the pine tree/And from the bamboo (the koto) of the bamboo."(75) To put this in postmodernist terms, Zen surface affirmation represents "a boundless openness devoid of all fixed metaphysical centers... [with] a radically disruptive freeplay of textual signifiers...."(76) P269 The Zen dialogue self-reflectively shows an awareness of the need for different modes of discourse based on the appropriate level of under standing, and it thus encompasses and fosters the interaction between mythicization, supported by the first three tropes, and demythicization reflecting irony. Thus, the dialogue attains the self-surpassing, transcendental quality Nishitani stresses: it is transformational in capturing the spontaneous moment of attainment of satori, transmissional as the main symbol of lineal succession, transpositional in viewing the masters as interchangeable pieces of the puzzle of discourse, translinear in expressing an approach to temporality beyond ordinary sequence, and transactional in engaging the audience's active participation. Further, the effectiveness of the Zen master in meeting these ends is due largely to the transgressive quality of his repartee, which "engenders incurable disease by violating propriety and infecting purity"(77)--that is, the supposed purity of logic, grammar, and common sense. One way of interpreting the relation between mythology and demythology, narrative history and transhistory, and polemics and philosphy in the discourse of Zen chronicles and dialogues is to refer to Roland Barthes' radical rereading of the Tower of Babel account from a postmodern standpoint that suggests a Zen attitude. "Thus the Biblical myth is reversed," Barthes writes; "the confusion of tongues is no longer a punishment, the subject gains access to bliss by the cohabitation of languages working side by side: the text of pleasure is a sanctioned Babel."(78) In this view, Babel represents not a condemnation to a labyrinth of deception and folly but the freedom of exploring multiple perspectives --it is the opportunity to leave things unnamed or to question self-reflectively the naming process by exploiting the creative potential of the fourth and self-surpassing trope of irony. That is, myths contain the possibility of their own reversal. For Aristotle, mythos is the style of discourse that establishes the meaning of logos, but for Zen discourse mythos and logos are used constantly to undercut one another. For Zen, the everpresent reversibility of myth is perhaps the greatest of all myths and yet no myth at all. This recalls White's emphasis on authentic discourse as seeking a middle ground between the conceptually overdetermined and the conceptually underdetermined. "On the contrary," according to White, "discourse, if it is genuine discourse--that is to say as self-critical as it is critical of others--will radically challenge [these extremes]. It throws all 'tactical' rules into doubt, including those originally governing its own formation.... Discourse always tends toward metadiscursive reflexiveness. This is why every discourse is always as much about discourse itself as it is about the objects that make up its subject matter."(79) To conclude, it seems that while Zen does not necessarily have exclusive privilege in regard to the attainment of transhistory, it also need not be P270 defensive concerning the role of narratology in the way it presents its own history. Rather, the intersection between Nishitani's philosophy of Zen and postmodernism lies in their shared emphasis on constructing a discourse for which "meaning is always in the process of forming, deforming and reforming,"(80) so that it reaches a continuing state of "metadiscursive reflexiveness."(81) NOTES This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Columbia University Faculty Seminar on Asian Religion and Thought, New York, November 1991. 1- Jan Van Bragt, "Translator's Introduction," in Keiji Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), pp xxxviii--xxxix. In referring to the Kyoto School's view, Van Bragt cites Abe Masao, "Nishitani Hakasecho 'shukyo to wa nanika' o yomite, " Tetsugaku kenkyu 2, no. 1 (1962): 83-104. In a parallel way, Paul Ricoeur comments on the importance of the final two chapters of Being and Time dealing with historical time, in Time and Narrative (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1984), vol. 3, pp.244-245. 2 - Nishitani, Religion and Nochingness, p.224. For a postmodern critique of linear time, to be discussed more fully below, see Mark C. Taylor, Erring: A Postmodern A/theology (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 3 - D. T. Suzuki, Studies in Zen (New York: Delta, 1955), p.135. Suzuki argues that Hu Shih "may know a great deal about history but nothing about the actor behind it." Actually, Suzuki and Hu Shih are less at odds than they appear in that the former often demonstrates his sensitivity to historical issues and the latter still seeks an understanding of the essence of Zen. Their real debate is whether Zen is "conscious and rational" (Hu Shih) or "irrational and not explainable by intellectual analysis" (Suzuki). On the other hand, nearly forty years later, it appears that Hu Shih "won" the debate because of the tremendous development of historical studies of Zen and a general sense (perhaps not as valid as it seems) that Suzuki overlooked these matters. 4 - John 8. McRae, The Northern School and the formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985) , pp 7-8. According to McRae, "except for Shen-hsiu, Shen-hui, and a few P271 other individuals, the extant body of primary sources does not indicate one-to-one correspondences between individual masters and specific doctrines. Rather, the bulk of our doctrinal information can be identified only as having been valid in a certain general context at a certain time." 5- Bernard Faure, "Bodhidharma as Textual and Religious Paradigm," History of Religions 25, no. 3 (1986): 187-198. 6- Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 7-Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p.51. 8-Ibid., p.96. 9-Both Scholes and lonesco are cited in John W. Murphy, Postmodern Social Analysis and Criticism (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1989), pp. 2, 28. 10-Roland Barthes, S/Z(New York: Hill and Wang, 1974), p.5. See the opening passage of the book for a somewhat ambivalent reference to Buddhist contemplation. 11- Meir Sternberg, The Poeitcs of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), p.15. In his work on Biblical criticism, Sternberg makes a fundamental distinction that can be applied to other scriptural traditions, including Zen, between "source-oriented analysis," which deals primarily with historical (in the conventional historiographical sense) and social scientific concerns, and "discourseoriented analysis, " focusing on literary and textual interpretative issues relative to what Foucault, interpreting Nietzsche, calls "effective history." For a discussion of the role of literary criticism specifically in relation to Zen, see John C. Maraldo, "Is There Historical Consciousness within Ch'an?" Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 12, nos.2-3 (1985): 141-172. For a genre criticism of the recorded-sayings genre, see Judith Berling, "Bringing the Buddha Down to Earth: Notes on the Emergence of the Yu-Iu as a Buddhist Genre," History of Religions 27, no. 1 (1987): 56-88. For a discussion of discourse analysis in relation to understanding Dogen's approach to koan practice, see my Dogen and the Koan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shobogenzo Texts (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994). 12-See Nishitani's essay,''Bukkyo ni okeru 'Kojo no Tachiba, '" in Zettai Mu to Kami(Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1981), pp. 150-194. 13-Nishitani's critique of Christianity at once resembles and yet is nearly opposite to Mircea Eliade's study of the relation between Christian P272 doctrine and mythology. Like Nishitani, Eliade criticizes Christianity for not recognizing its rootedness in circular time, but he identifies the true source of "cosmic Christianity" with the myth and rites of renewal that establish the inseparability of cosmology and eschatology; this source is retained though camouflaged in millennialist and hagiocentric seasonal festival worship. See Eliade, Myth and Reality (New York: Harper, 1963). Nishitani, however, argues from the other direction, that Christian cosmology-eschatology in the sense that the end of history is foreshadowed by the beginnings (for example, a holocaust by water to root out evil near the start sets up the need for a final conflagration by fire) never overcomes naive mythology, see Religion and Nothingness, p.213. For the relation between fertility mythology and Buddhist contemplation as seen in Japanese religion, see my "From Rice Cultivation to Mind Contemplation: The Meaning of Impermanence in Japanese Religion," History of Religions 30, no.4 (1991):374-403. 14-Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness, p.211. 15-lbid., p.272. 16 - Masao Abe, "Will, 'suunyataa, and History," in The Religious Philosophy of Nishitani Keiji, ed. Taitetsu Unno (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1989), p. 289. 17-Dogen, Shobogenzo, ed. Terada Toru and Mizuno Yaoko (Tokyo Iwanami, 1972), "Bendowa'", I.20. 18-Ibid., "Gyoji," I.165. 19-The similarity between Blake and Dogen has been pointed out by Joan Stambaugh, Impermanence Is Buddha-nature: Dogen's Understanding of Temporality (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990,pp.32-33. 20-The following is a more comprehensive listing of the main texts associated with each genre, along with dates of publication indicating how most of these texts were from the Sung era although based on sayings and anecdotes attributed to T'ang masters. The sources for the list are Yanagida Seizan, Zengaku goroku II (Tokyo: Chikumi Shobo, 1974), Ishii Shudo, Chugoku Zenshushi o mana Shobogenal ni manabu (Tokyo: Zen Bunka Kenkyujo, 1988), and Kawamura Kodo Shobogenzo no seiritsu- shiteki no kenkyu (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1988 Transmission of the Lamp Histories: Rekidai hoboki(779) , Horinde (801) , Sodoshu (952) , Keitoku dentoroku (1004), Tensho kotorole (1036), Kenchuu seikoku zokutoroku(1101) , Shumon toyoshu(1133) Shumon rentoeyo(1183) , Katai futoroku (1201), Goto egen (1253) Zoku dentoroku (1372) ; Recorded Sayings: Shike goroku(early Sungh) P273 Rinzairoku (1046? 1120), Yang-ch'i roku (1088), Kosonshuku roku (1100s) , Yuan-wu (Engo) roku(1136) , Chao-chou (Joshu) goroku(1144) , Ta-hui (Daie) goroku (1172), Hung-chih (Wanshi) roku(l201) , Layman P'ang(Sung, 1637) , Tozanroku(1640?); Koan Collections: Fun'yoroku (by 1024) , Setcho hyakusoku juko (1026) , Hekiganroku (1128T), Taui-hui(Daie) Shobogenzo (1147), Hung-chih (Wanshi) juko hyakusoku and Nenko hyakusoku (1166) , Shoyoroku (1224) , Mumonkan(1228). 21-William F. Powell, tr., The Record of Tung-shan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 5. Dale S. Wright says of the style of the recorded sayings, "they twisted the slang of the time out of its particular representational hold. They spoke the common language of the moment in uncommon ways in order to undermine the norms and grounds embodied in it"; see "The Discourse of Awakening: Rhetorical Practice in Classical Ch'an Buddhism," journal of the American Academy of Religion 61, no. 1 (1993) : 27. Also, the "biographies of eminent monks" such as the So kosoden (988), which deals with Zen and other Buddhist luminaries in a somewhat more historiographical way than the other chronicles, could be considered a fourth genre. 22-Dogen's Shobogenzo is sometimes regarded as anti-koan and prozazen, but it may represent a subdivision of the koan collection genre in that it provides a philosophical discussion of koans and other dialogues centered on doctrinal themes rather than formally identified cases--especially when seen in light of Dogen's own koan collection compiled in Chinese in 1235, the Shobogenzo Sanbyaku. 23-Yanagida, "The 'Recorded Sayings' Texts of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism," in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet (Berkeley: Buddhist Studies Series, 1983), pp. 185-205. Perhaps the Zen dialogues were influenced by neo-Taoist conversations or colloquies known as ch'ing-t'an (lit. "elevated talk"), which were eventually "transformed from a speculative instrument into the drawing-room pastime of a disillusioned aristocracy" (Arthur F. Wright, Buddhism in Chinese History [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959], 46). he Zen records were also influenced by Confucian and Neo-Confucian recorded sayings of conversations and commentaries; see Daniel Gardner, "Modes of Thinking and Modes of Discourse in the Sung: Some Thoughts on the Yu-Iu ("Recorded Conversations") Texts, Journal of Asian Studies 50, no.3 (1991): 574-603. Another important, concise literary unit in the chronicles is the poem or gatha marking satori, succession, or death. 24-McRae, The Northern School, pp. 73-80. P274 25-Yun-Hua Jan, "Buddhist Historiography in Sung China, " Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 114 (1964), p.362 Yanagida carefully traces the history of this process in Shoki zenshu shisho no kenkyu(Kyoto:Hozokan, 1967). 26 - On the idea of Zen inventing itself, see Julian F. Pas, trans., The Recorded Sayings of Ma-tsu (Lewiston/Queenstown: Edwin Mellen, 1987), p.42: "These examples [of Indian encounter dialogues] derive from Ch'an histories, written after Ma-tsu's time, and are typically Chinese. According to Yanagida, one may conclude that all Ch'an masters about whom similar anecdotes have been transmitted, belong to Ma-tsu's school, and that their recording started from his time." Jan notes the protest by other Buddhist schools who wrote that Zen should "Stop the Lies." 27 - Pas, Recorded Sayings, p. 29 (emphasis added). 28 -Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), p. 356. 29 -Philip B. Yampolsky, trans., The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), pp. 4-5. 30 -See Foucault's essay on Nietzsche and "effective history, " "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, " in A Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow(New York: Pantheon, 1984), pp. 76-100. 31 - The traditional sources strive to present an "arborescent" paradigm of lineage--that is, one based on the family-tree model--that betrays a sequential teleology; see Faure, "The Daruma-shu, Dogen, and Soto Zen, " Monumenta Nipponica 42, no. 1 (1987): 54. 32 - McRae, "The Story of Early Ch'an," in Zen: Tradition and Transition ed. Kenneth Kraft (New York: Grove, 1988), pp. 138-139. An example of a study that seems to follow the "string of pearls" approach (which seems to correspond to what Nietzsche refers to as "monumer talistic" history, as discussed below) is John Wu, The Golden Age of Zen (Taipei: United, 1975). 33 - On the playfulness of the face-to-face encounter in Socratic-Platonic dialogues, see John Sallis, Being and Logos: The Way of Platornic Dialogue (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press), pp. 12-22. Zen dialogues are much more diverse than the question-and-answer seesions, in that the questioning process is often deliberately and abruptly or ambiguously concluded. 34 - Robert E. Buswell, Jr., "The 'Short-cut' Approach of K'an-hua Meditation: The Evolution of a Practical Subitism in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism," in Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment its P276 Chinese Thought, ed. Peter N. Gregory (Honolulu: University of Hawaii press, 1987) , p. 322. (Although I disagree somewhat with his conclusions concerning the development of the koan tradition, Buswell's impeccable scholarship has greatly influenced my understanding of this period in the history of Zen.) On the development of the koan tradition, see Furuta Shokin, "Koan no rekishiteki hatten keitai ni okeru shinrisei no mondai," in Bukkyo no kompon shinri, ed. Miyamoto Shoson (Tokyo: Sanseido, 1956), pp.807- 840. 35-There were at least three other main efforts at abbreviation in Japanese Rinzai Zen, including the "turning word" (tengo) and "capping phrase" (jakugo) techniques, which highlighted key, succinct phrases of koans, and the practice of citing "satori poems" (tokinoge) . See the introduction in Soiku Shigematsu, trans., Zen Forest: Sayings of the Masters (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1981), pp.3-31; and Kenneth Kraft, Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992). 36-This is the Fun'yoroku, see Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History (New York: Macmillan, 1988) vol. 1, p. 246. 37-Mumonkan, case no. 2. 38-On the causes and consequences of the suppression under Emperor Wu-Tsung, see Stanley Weinstein, Buddhism under the T'ang(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 114-136; Dumoulin vol. 1, pp.211-213. Also, Kenneth Ch'en discusses how and why Zen was the sole surviving sect, in Buddhism in China, pp.363-364. 39-Foucault, "Truth and Power," A Foucault Reader, p.74: "Truth' is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation, and operation of statements." 40-In another example, Faure cites Dogen and Yosai as "not referring so much to individual subjectivities as to discrete textual segments representative of a certain type of discourse," in "The Daruma-shuu, Dogen, and Soto Zen," p. 53 n. 93. 41-On the "golden age" debate, see Buswell, p.359 n.8. 42-Maraldo, "Is There Historical Consciousness," pp.160-161. 43-See, for example, Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series (London: Rider, 1953), pp. 227-253. For an essay on Dogen stressing literary or stylistic themes, see Hee-Jin Kim, "The Reason of Words and Letters'--Dogen and Koan Language," in Dogen Studies, ed. William R. LaFleur (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985), pp. 54-82. P276 44 - See Faure, "Bodhidharma"; see also Takayuki Nagashima, who argues that he has proven the "non-existence" of Hui-neng but nevertheless considers the sixth patriarch significant as a "symbol," in Truth and Fabrications in Religion (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1978), p.327. 45 -Yanagida, Shoki zenshu shisho no kenkyuu, pp.17-18. Also cited in Maraldo, "Is There Historical Consciousness," p.154. 46 -Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psycho- logist, Antichrise. (New York: Vintage, 1968) , pp. 144-145. 47 -Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History." 48 -This phrase from Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs, is cited in Murphy, Postmodern Social Analysis,p.14. 49 - Taylor, Erring,p.64. 50 - White, Tropics of Discourse, p. 94. 51 - See Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 3, section 2. 52 - Dale S. Wright, "Historical Understanding in the Ch'an Transmisssion Narratives" (Presented at the 1990 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in New Orleans). Wright carefully explains how the Zen sense of family spirit and choosing heirs is influenced by traditional Chinese patterns of ancestral worship. 53 -Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp . 19-22. 54 -Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (New York: Noonday, 1975). In a similar way, Foucault comments on the "author-function" in "What is an Author?" in A Foucault Reader, pp. 108-109. 55 - Wallace Martin, Recent Theories of Narrative (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1986), esp. p.112-113, dealing with Tomaschevsky, Barthes, Chatman. 56 - This point, influenced by Plato, is made in Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978). 57 -The theories concerning rite of passage and heroism usually describe three stages: departure either by choice or calling, liminality or crossing the threshold to fulfillment, and reincorporation or return to a social context to apply the lessons learned during attainment. See for example, Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine, 1969) , pp. 94-95. On the relation between narrative and heroism, White writes (p.88), "a historical narrative is not only a reproduction of the events reported in it, but also a complex of symbols which gives us directions for finding an icon of the structure of those events in our literary tradition." p277 58-For a discussion of some of the similarities in the accounts of Te-shan and Lin-chi, see Yanagida, "The Life of Lin-chi I-hsuan." Eastern Buddhist 5, no. 2 (1972): 73. 59-An interesting contemporary account of the Zen quest is in Morinaga Soko, "My Struggle to Become a Zen Monk," in Zen pp. 13-29. 60-For this phrase, see Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 3. p. 220. 61-Maraldo,''ls There Historical Consciousness," p. 165. Also Yampolsky discusses how Shen-hui established Bodhidharma's robe as a symbol of the transmission of the dharma, in The Platform Sutra, p. 27. 62-Faure, "Bodhidharma," p.190, which appears to be influenced by Foucault's essay, "What is an Author?"; Foucault writes, "The author's name manifests the appearance of a certain discursive set and indicates the status of this discourse within a society and a culture" (p.107). See also David Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope(San Francisco: Harper, 1987), p. 45; and White, Tropics of Discourse, pp. 88-89. 63-According to the Zen dictum which initially appeared during the Sung dynasty (1108) but is attributed to Bodhidharma, "A special transmission outside the sutras/Without reliance on words or letters" (kyoge betsuden/furyu monji). The "correct" lineage was associated with the Southern School, and southern China was where Buddhism had long established positive social connections; see Weinstein, Buddhism under the T'ang, p. 4. Buddhism in the south remained untouched during the persecutions prior to 845. 64-For an explanation of a Hindu view of the guru-sisya relationship, see William Cenkner, A Tradition of Teachers: Sankara and the Jagadgurus Today(Delhi: Motilal, Banarsidass, 1983), pp. 15-19 esp. 65-See Miriam Levering's dissertation, "Ch'an Enlightenment for the Laymen: Ta-hui and the New Religious Culture of the Sung" (Harvard, 1978), on the role of Ta-hui in propagating Rinzai Zen among the literate elite. 66-Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra, p.27. 67-Hekiganroku, case no.1. 68-The last instance is cited in Buswell, "Ch'an Hermeneutics: A Korean View, " in Buddhist Hermeneutics, ed. Donald S. Lopez (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988), p. 238. 69-White, Tropics of Discourse, p. 5. See also David E. Klemm, "Toward a Rhetoric of Postmodern Theology: Through Barth and Heidegger," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 55, no. 3 (1987): 443-469. P278 70 - The original text is in Taisho 51, no. 2076; translation in Wu, Golden Age, p.53. For an account of the development of different versions of the passage, which originally had only three disciples in a much sparser dialogue, in a number of Zen texts leading up to the Keitodes dentoroku, see Ishii, Sodai Zenshushi no kenkyu (Daito Shuppansha, 1987) , pp.105-107. Also, Dogen's interpretation of the passage in Shobogenzo, "Katto" (based largely on an anecdote from Chao-chou's recorded sayings), reverses the conventional view by suggesting the equality of all four responses without preference for silence over speech. According to Dogen, skin is not more shallow and marrow is not the deepest level. This interpretation also implies an equalization of the potential relevance of all the tropes, which gain efficacy depending on the appropriate context, and it suggests a refutation of the linear, teleological approach to history. 71 - From the Ma-tsu goroku as cited in Wu, Golden Age, pp. 95-96. 72 - On the debate among tropical theorists about the priority of metaphorical or metonymic thinking, see Jonathan Culler, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), pp. 200-201. 73 - For example, Mumonkan, cases 24 and 32. 74 - Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity, p. 92. Nietzsche also can be interpreted as attempting "to transcend an ironic apprehension of the world in order to arrive at a restored metaphoric contact with reality..." that has something of the carnivalesque about it, in Dominick LaCapra (commenting on White's reading of Nietzsche), Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language(lthaca and London Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 77. 75 - See Taitetsu Unno, "Emptiness and Reality in Mahayana Buddhism," in The Religious Philosophy of Nishitani Keiji, pp. 312-313. 76-Steve Odin, "Derrida and the Decentered Universe of Chan/Zen Buddhism, "Journal of Chinese Philosophy 17 (1990): 84. 77 - Taylor, Erring, p. 117. 78 - Barthes, S/Z, pp. 3-4. 79 - White, Tropics of Discourse, p. 4. 80 - Taylor, Erring, p. 179. 81 - But to avoid this high-minded language by paraphrasing the brooding, rebellious Marlon Brando character in the film The Wild One, if asked what his metadiscursive reflexiveness is reflecting upon, the Zen master might respond coolly, "Whaddaya got?"