22. On the Value of Speaking and Not Speaking
Philosophy of Language in Zen Buddhism
- Steven M. Emmanuel
Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy
How to Cite
Heine, S. (2013) On the Value of Speaking and Not Speaking, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch22
- Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
- Published Print: 25 MAR 2013
Print ISBN: 9780470658772
Online ISBN: 9781118324004
- Zen Buddhism;
- Zen literature
In considering the role of language in Zen Buddhism, a basic conundrum is immediately confronted. Historical studies demonstrate that in Zen there has been a very large and fundamental role for verbal communication via poetry and prose narratives included in commentaries on enigmatic koans. During Song dynasty China, Zen masters produced an abundant volume of writings that originally were based on the spontaneous and deliberately eccentric oral teachings of Tang dynasty patriarchs. This literature forms the heart of the modes of textual study and ritual practice used in Zen today. Silence has always been highlighted in Zen. Zen's language of non-language, or vice versa, leaves open the possibility for inventive expression and productive silence to intermingle and to be alternatively used or discarded, as appropriate for particular discursive contexts and pedagogical situations.