This Saturday I will have a chance to meet someone whose father is a Zen Buddhist.

Personal things aside, along with learning Zen, I have found out the similarity that Zen, one of whose main methods, Koan, is the method of dialogue between its master and his disciples. Should death be the final destination and therefore nothing is constant (which is a principle of Zen), wouldn't this be reminiscent, for example, of Engels' words? (Nothing is constant through human history (although theirs is aimed at the Western capitalistic mode of production).

And for example, it was Takuan who said if humans are unable to touch fire then they would not feel burnt, which reminds me of Weiner's rader system (or human-the-machine thoughts).

Any ideas will be welcome.

  • If Zen took hold in the US it would be branded and sold to trendsters, like yoga pants. – user4894 Jun 1 '17 at 22:44
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    you'll enjoy "Non-Duality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy" by David Loy. Has comparisons between between Western philosophies and Eastern traditions. Loy is a Zen teacher. Google his name for his website. – Swami Vishwananda Jun 2 '17 at 7:09
  • "If you wish to understand the mind, sit down and observe it." On the origin and original context of koan cases, read oxfordscholarship.com/mobile/view/10.1093/0195135865.001.0001/… Zen is not it's Western caricature. It is sad so many key texts are not available yet in English – CriglCragl Aug 10 '18 at 23:44
  • I'm not sure what you mean by the sentence, 'Should death be the final destination and therefore nothing is constant' and do not see it as expressing anything to do with Zen. Also the word 'logos' may be translated as 'thought', so your title is confusing. But if you;re asking whether Zen might change the stereotypical Western mindset then the answer would be a resounding yes, After all, this is exactly the point of it. The idea is to transcend mind-sets. – user20253 Aug 11 '18 at 12:47

I practice(d) zen for years.

The short answer : No.

The long answer : Zen as a non system that aims for nothing. No purpose no transformation or outbreak. Zen only reason to be and to be use is be here and now. When you try to use your mental trying to analyse why/IF/Should/analogies etc you are losing the interest of the Zen it self. Being here and now and Just act.

but philosophy and logos are useful in they own way for others stuff.

On the quote on the "change", there is a misconception. Zen logic says one thing everything is here and now. Like a river your are in the flow. In fact nothing change, every moment "look" alike but in the same time every moment is unique.This is the contradiction of life everything is here but always moving, you never have the big movie, only each pictures at the time.

  • I would like to refrain from doing some religious argument, so thank you for your own answer anyway. – user13955 Jun 2 '17 at 23:23
  • Sorry Patrick but I feel forced to downvote. Are you saying your practice had no effect on your mind-set? Do you not recognise the metaphysics of Zen? How would explain the popularity and reported efficacy of a 'non-system that aims at nothing'? How could it be possible that Zen practice would not change the usual 'western' mind-set? If it cannot do this it is worthless. Or am I misunderstanding you? – user20253 Aug 11 '18 at 12:53

Zen as a practice concerns the persons relationship with being (I'm intentionally using small 'b' here). The thinking mind is an aspect of being, and what is dealt with in western philosophy is in particular the "conceptual". Zen doesn't take as its direct object conceptual thought. From it's point of view your relationship with conceptual thinking will necessarily be transformed through its transformation of your being.

So to answer your question, there's two aspects: 1) Zen as a practice transforms western logocentrism indirectly by changing you as the entity in dialogue with it; but 2) Zen does not have as its direct object the objects of western philosophy so there is always the opportunity for it to have a enriching symbiosis with it. The discursive and non-discursive presuppose each other as does the conceptual and non-conceptual. The non-discursive and non-conceptual is massively underdeveloped in the West and the capacity to return to or to into into it is something that always transforms the person with such a capacity.

Could it transform western philosophy in any major way? I don't have an answer here but the question to ask yourself is how are the traditional questions of western philosohy canonized and institutionalized and how are they challenged? What constitutes a "problem" of philosophical relevance? All of this is very culturally situated. And a zen approach to concepts challenges these traditional questions one poses as of philosophical relevance. So these domains tend to remain separate at an institutional level although plenty of us can be involved in both simultaneously.

  • The metaphysics of Zen solves all problems of philosophy. This is explained by Nagarjuna. Were Western philosophers to grasp this solution they could move on after two millennia of stagnation. Zen is just a form of the Perennial philosophy, a philosophy avoided like the plague by the Western mind-set because that mind-set cannot survive the encounter. – user20253 Aug 11 '18 at 13:00
  • @PeterJ What I was attempting to say above was that because buddhism in general has as it's object something quite distinct from Wester Philosophy, what if one attempts to respect these essential initial distinctions of intent and practice without reducing either one to the other. I'm a mahamudra practitioner, but we have certain practices with direct correlates in Zen, such as shikantaza. From my perspective as a lay person, my intervention in the discursive and conceptual worlds is no less important than my continual work in the non-discursive & non-conceptual. Cheers – ClearMountainWay Aug 11 '18 at 15:57
  • All fine CW. I didn't mean to disagree about Zen having a different object. But even so along the way it solves all Russell's 'problems of philosophy' and I become a little agitated when it's suggested that Zen has nothing to do with 'Western' philosophy's problems. It does not share them because it solves them, not because it ignores them. – user20253 Aug 12 '18 at 11:32

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