The Contemplative Idiom in Chan Buddhist Rhetoric and Indian and Chinese Alchemy
The first chapter is an analysis of the rhetorical and transformative functions of language in Chan Buddhist rhetoric. It begins with a critique of the traditional category of "mysticism" as used to describe religious traditions defined by a focus upon "mystical experience" as an extraordinary psychological state that is phenomenologically similar across traditions. It proposes a different typology for identifying these types of traditions that refers to their similar rhetorical idiom of contemplation and transformation of consciousness. The case of Chan Buddhism is examined to illustrate how this contemplative idiom functions rhetorically to create and contest authority, and how it works to frame an alternate conception of reality and lead the practitioner to instantiate that conception by transforming his apprehension of reality. The second chapter is an exposition and examination of the religious phenomenon of alchemy, specifically as manifested in the traditions of India and China. It argues that alchemy is not a single, continuous global phenomenon, but rather a peculiar set of instances of contemplative language applied to certain commonly observed material processes. It concludes that each case of alchemy is an independent use of a peculiar idiom to express specific cultural values, but that the parallel material processes involved necessarily produce certain similarities in each instance.
Daniel Boucher, Daniel Gold
Chan Buddhism; Alchemy; Mysticism
dissertation or thesis