Can literature reveal reality? Is philosophical truth a literary artifice? How does the way we think affect what we can know? Buddhism has been grappling with these questions for centuries, and this book attempts to answer them by exploring the relationship between literature and philosophy across the classical and contemporary Buddhist worlds of India, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, and North America. Written by leading scholars, the book examines literary texts composed over two millennia, ranging in form from lyric verse, narrative poetry, panegyric, hymn, and koan, to novel, hagiography, (secret) autobiography, autofiction, treatise, and sutra, all in sustained conversation with topics in metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophies of mind, language, literature, and religion. Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural, this book deliberately works across and against the boundaries separating three mainstays of humanistic pursuit--literature, philosophy, and religion--by focusing on the multiple relationships at play between content and form in works drawn from a truly diverse range of philosophical schools, literary genres, religious cultures, and historical eras. Overall, the book calls into question the very ways in which we do philosophy, study literature, and think about religious texts. It shows that Buddhist thought provides sophisticated responses to some of the perennial problems regarding how we find, create, and apply meaning--on the page, in the mind, and throughout our lives.
About the Author
Rafal K. Stepien is Assistant Professor in Comparative Religion at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.