IJLLL 2020 Vol.6(2): 108-111 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2020.6.2.260

Beyond Mimesis: Unnatural Narrative in Ch‘an Kōans

Wu Amiao and Ellen Y. Zhang
Abstract—Ch’an (Zen), as a face-to-face transmission of the dharma outside the Buddhism sutras, is also a discourse on “how not to say”. For transcending words and pointing directly to the human mind, Ch’an Buddhism defies the parameters of usual interaction by employing Kōan system —an unusual Ch’an teaching system, to provoke “great doubt” and test a disciple’s progress in practice. Throughout history, researchers have been interested in Ch’an text all along, and an extensive research from different perspectives help foster the development of interpretive approaches to Ch’an study. But none of the academic research has delved into the relationship between Kōan and its unnatural narrative structure so far, and how its peculiar practice may help disciples realize the mind and seeing self-nature. Through the lens of unnatural narratives, this paper seeks to present an exploratory study of new paradigm in analyzing Ch’an Kōans, and to demonstrate another effective way of probing and understanding Ch’an text. The paper will sketch out basic concepts, scholarly origin, research aims, and point out directions for an interdisciplinary study of religious text within the framework of unnatural narratology. By drawing on unnatural narrative theories for Kōan cases, we aim to show possibilities of application of unnatural narratives to Ch’an tradition and what fresh vitality this approach can bring into the study of religious texts.

Index Terms—Ch’an Kōans, interdisciplinary study, religious texts, unnatural narratives.

Wu Amiao and Ellen Y. Zhang are with the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China (e-mail: 19481780@life.hkbu.edu.hk, eyzhang@ hkbu.edu.hk).

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Cite:Wu Amiao and Ellen Y. Zhang, "Beyond Mimesis: Unnatural Narrative in Ch‘an Kōans," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 108-111, 2020.

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