Being and knowing in wholeness Chinese Chan, Tibetan Dzogchen, and the logic of immediacy in contemplation

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Title: Being and knowing in wholeness Chinese Chan, Tibetan Dzogchen, and the logic of immediacy in contemplation
Author: Ying, Chinghui Jianying
Advisor: Klein, Anne C.
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: Responding to onto-theology, Eliot Deutsch proposes the idea of "knowing religiously," stating "religious knowledge doesn't so much have a distinctive or special object as it has a unique style or manner...a reverential knowing that is centered in reality." Based on the teachings of Chinese Chan and Tibetan Dzogchen, this dissertation builds upon Deutsch's premise to investigate the mechanism of 'im-mediate' knowing, or the logic of immediacy, in contemplation and philosophical expression. In particular, this dissertation shows that the meaning of one's being lies in spontaneous self-or-open awareness rather than in a highest being or transcendental divinity. Similar to Maurice Merleau-Ponty's "question-knowing," this open awareness has "an original manner of aiming at something," for it inspires one to embrace all but reify none. With this non-reifying-yet-all-embracing awareness, one's relationship with Being is embodied in a nondual dynamic, in which one unfolds being and knowing in wholeness. This holistic relationship is the insight derived from the logic of immediacy. It also provides an alternative paradigm to explore the nature of religious knowledge. This dissertation also shows that the logic of immediacy does not reject nominal intermediaries. Rather, it employs them in specific ways so that immediacy is realized without the dualistic bondages and conceptual limitations implied by methods of mediation. As this understanding is seen via a contemplative perspective, it offers an alternative to the sociopolitical perspective in extending our reach beyond the sectarian and the historical so that we can better appreciate the nuances of the teachings and the values of religious developments. Since the complex set of theses regarding the experience and thematization of immediacy emerges over time and in conversation with thinkers from different quarters of the religious-philosophizing spectrum, the narration of this dissertation starts with an origin narrative and an exemplar of the logic of immediacy in Chan Following the footsteps of Chan monks westwards, it delves into the development and teachings of sTon mun, a tradition of encounter between Chinese Chan monks and Tibetan tantric practitioners. It concludes this tracing of the logic of immediacy with the early teachings of Dzogchen which emphasizes spontaneity.
Citation: Ying, Chinghui Jianying. (2010) "Being and knowing in wholeness Chinese Chan, Tibetan Dzogchen, and the logic of immediacy in contemplation." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University.
Date: 2010

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