If you are anything like me, it will be hard to convince you that Kripal's work is different, that it is not BS. And yet it is serious academic scholarship, built upon the critical framework that has been one of the proudest achievements of the humanities. Kripal is nothing if not keenly attuned to the necessity of critiquing the frameworks we use to assess different phenomena.
In January, I taught a course titled "Zen masters: history and criticism." The course outline was as follows: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” “What was your name before you were born?” Though this course might not give you the correct answer to such mysterious questions, it will explore the characters that ask…Read more Student Project on Contemporary Zen Masters
Recently, Suzanne Cahill and I finished our collaborative translation of the Record of Linji, something that has been a weekly project for a year now. I look back on this experience with great satisfaction. Following are some random observations on the process of translating a Chinese Zen text: Zen masters are like Nietzsche: they maintain…Read more Some thoughts on Linji
Peter Haskel's study of the Zen monk Takuan Sōhō (CE 1573–1645) provides a nuanced, in-depth analysis of a topic that is all-too often dominated by nonsense. As a professor of medieval Chinese history told me recently, despite the enthusiasm of undergraduate and graduate students to investigate the connection between Zen and the martial arts, until…Read more Thoughts on Peter Haskel’s “Sword of Zen: Master Takuan and His Writings on Immovable Wisdom and the Sword Taie”