Liberating Intimacy: Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Ch'an Buddhism

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State University of New York Press, Jul 3, 1996 - Philosophy - 236 pages
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Liberating Intimacy dramatically reevaluates the teachings and practice of Ch'an Buddhism. Considering Buddha's insight that everything is empty or absent of a permanent and independent self nature, Hershock argues that not only is suffering without any essence and so dependent on time and place, so is end of suffering or enlightenment. He shows that the tradition need not entail a quietistic withdrawal from social life. Far from being something privately attained and experienced, Ch'an enlightenment is best seen as the opening of a virtuosic intimacy through which we are continually liberated from the arrogance of both self and other. That is, enlightenment in Ch'an must be understood as irreducibly social--it can never be merely mine or yours, but is only realized as ours. Including new translations from the teachings of Ma-tzu, Pai-chang, Huang-po and Lin-chi, Liberating Intimacy reconciles the almost fierce individualism that characterizes the mastery of Ch'an and its unwavering embrace of the ideal of compassionately saving all beings.

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About the author (1996)

Peter D. Hershock is Project Fellow of the Asian Studies Development Program at the East-West Center.

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