John King-Farlow
Journal of Chinese Philosophy
Copyright (c) 1983 by Dialogue Publishing Company,
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

. P.285 Professor Cheng's remarkable paper "ON Zen (Ch'an) Languages and Zen Paradoxes", (Journal of Chinese Philosophy, I 1973) 77-102), is extremely welcome. Unlike the more popular interpreters of Zen, such as D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, Cheng speaks as a scholar no less at home with Harvard-style analysantia than with the Buddhist and Taoist background of Zen analysantia. Thanks to Cheng's encouragement, I shall offer a series of requests for clarification. This may enable him to bridge still further the gap between the Zen Masters' understanding of paradox as a tool and the initial puzzlement of Anglo-Saxon analysts. It should be clear that I write as one of those to whom Cheng addresses himself, as someone with only a European training, who cannot tell whether even the translations are close renderings. My questions to Cheng will be mainly of the form: How useful for understanding Zen discourse is the following body of comment, which arises from my still very limited understanding of your most welcome cross-cultural essay? Part 1 Question I: ANALYSIS OF TYPE 1 OF THE ZEN "PARADOXES" MENTIONED How useful is the folliwng Body-of Comment I ? Comment : Cheng provides the following general formula for the "schemata of paradoxes": "(H) P is q if and only if P is not q, where q is some suitable sentential predicate of either logical or semantical or pragmatical significance." (85) Among the possible values for q he specifically mentions (A) "meaningful", (B) "intelligible", (C) "relevant", (D) "acceptable", (E) "satisfactory" and (F) "relevant (for some purpose)". What Cheng calls Zen paradoxes must exemplify one of these possible values of q in H, or several of them, or several of them and other possible values of q or even all possible values of q. The rang of q is going to be very great P.286 indeed, and I have no doubt of Cheng's ability to find some philosophically important value for each of what he calls his paradoxical examples (given a very loose,Cluster-Concept analysis of "paradoxical", "logical", "semantical" and "pragmatic"). What is not clear to me at all is the sort of appropriateness of predicates (A) to (F) to certain examples that he gives. Let me deal first with what Cheng calls "paradoxes in Zen language......Type I: Paradoxes with paradoxicality in a simple demand or in a single question". (87) The force of examples seems to me better 'schematized' by the formula" Apparently it is implied or contextually implicated the P is both q and NOT- q). Cheng stresses that such questions must be understood as following in the context of conversations between people with great learning in the fields of Taoist and Buddhist thought (80). Presumabley those conversing will each have a healthily trained memory, imagination, facility for discovering logical fallacies, and ability to produce sentences which seem to have no non-deviant uses but really do. Thus it would appear to me that the best interpretation of many examples of Type I paradoxicality (?) is that the speaker seems to be asking or stating something paradoxical (in one or more of a broad range of senses), but it is something which a gifted student need not find very paradoxical in isolation from the sentences of the dialogue. Instead, in the case of most of the fifteen examples which Cheng gives for Type I, the gifted student should be able to make fairly good sense of what the teacher says, in that he can think of a reasonably natural context in which some illocationary use or uses of the teacher's words will be easy to understand. (The context need not be at all obvious to everyone who is philosophically lethargic.) I speak of a conventional illocutionary use in contrast with the Zen master's perlocutionary use for shocking people into Enlightement. This latter use is covered further in Part II of my essay. I now introduce some crude, overlapping diagnostic responses.(I) "Here is an element of apparent contradiction that is really pseudo-contradiction". (II) "Here is a false inference or misleading implication." (III) "Here is a play on different senses of a word." (IV)"Here is a confusion of contraries and contradictories." A pupil who can see how to apply these diagnoses to his teacher's 'paradoxes' of Type I must have an imaginative freedom and creativity, a relaxed yet disciplined looseness or openness of mind, a fine sense of humour about everyone (including his teacher and, above all, himself). No doubt the Zen Buddhist will say that perfect possession of such P.287 qualities can only obtained after Enlightenment through study up to Cheng's Stage III(83). Now for the examples. (1) "Show me your original face before you were- born."This seems to be a question which presupposes both that the student did once have a now diclosable face of a certain kind and that the student never did or never could have a now disclosable face of that "original" kind. But the student could possibly have good reason to think he has some relevant ideas and is able to draw (I) what his face looked like just before he was born, (ii)what his face looked like in his immediately prior incarnation or in some prior incarnation, of (iii) what his face might have looked like in his first incarnation. So the student even though he need not believe in reincarnation can invoke diagnoses (I) "Pseudo-Contradiction" and perhaps (III) "Play on different senses of the key word 'original'. " At least the student can do this if Cheng's English translation is closely synonymous with the original sentence in the original language. (2)"Whay is the clap of one hand? ("Listen to the sound of one hand [clapping].") The question and the command both seem to presuppose in P. F.Strawson's terms, or contextually implicate in H.P. Grice's terms, that there can be a sound of one hand clapping and that there cannot. But though a clap or clapping sound emitted by two hands pounding palms together is not the same sort of clap as that created by a person thumping his fingers on his palm to create a clapping noise or by thumping something with ones only free hand at the theatre to applaud (with a degenerate type of clap that is equally appreciated), a person can clap (paradigmatically) with two hands or (somewhat analogously) with one. Hence the diagnosis may be one of (I) and (III) (3) "On producing a pitcher, Pai Ching asking: 'Don't call it a pitcher, but tell me what it is?'" We again seem to get something like what H.P. Grice calls the Contextual Implicature that two contradictory propositions are ture: the pupil both has a duty to say that it is pitcher, and also has the duty not to say this, so that he does not have the duty to say it! But actually in the context it is reasonable just to expect that the pupil give a fairly good identifying description of the pitcher without using the word "pitcher"ówor that he use a suitable synonym if available. Thus, "It is a jug" or "It is a polished clay vessel for storing and pouring water and other fluids" will get the pupil 'off the hook'. The diagnosis can be: (I) and (II). P.288 (4) "I am him and yet he is not me".In the sense that Sir Laurence is Hamlet when acting the leading role in Hamlet, Hamlet is not Sir Laurence Olivier. The diagnosis can be (I) and (III). Presumably Kabuki actors and also other Chinese and Japanese types of actors have some of the linguistic license that Shakespearean actors have with regard to some roughly synonymous sentence. (5) "Call this a stick and you asset; call it not a stick and you negate. Now you don't assert or negate, and what do you call it? Speak and speak." When a society's linguistic leader originally calls, names, or entitles a thing of type X, stick, or when he defines such a thing as a stick, he neither asserts nor negates anything. His sentence is not used to make a true of false statement: he performs a different kind of linguistic act from asserting or denying. When he originally decrees or defines things of type X that are also of type Y not, to be sticks, he neither asserts or denies anything. Or, again, as Cheng mentions on page 88, the answerer can respond by saying "What is it?" This need not be strongly paradoxical as an answer, as Cheng holds, since to reply "What is it?" is to speak and one is commanded to speak here, while one is at the same time being forbidden to assert or negate or call it a stick. The contraries "You must not call it a stick" and "You must not call it not a stick" are treated illegitimately as contradictories, so that one falsely seems to be obliged to go wrong by the Law of the Excluded Middle. But this Law does exclude the possibility that one speak but call it nothing at all. Diagnoses (I), (II), (III) and (IV) may all be in order. Speaking is not confined to calling, nor in relation to Cheng's example (6)-- "Assertion prevails not, nor does denial. When neither of them is to the point, what would you say?"íđ is saying things confined to asserting and denying. Compare Aristotle's ditinction in De Interpretatione, Chapter IV, between (1) sentences for asserting and denying and (2) meaningful sentences IN GENERAL. The answer to Cheng's (7), the question about how to get a growing goose out of a bottle, the neck of which it is has outgrown, without damaging goose or bottle, is answered by pointing to the masked third possibility of expanding the bottle and /or shrinking the goose. The best diagnosis may be (IV). And the message may be the sound one that humans wallow in abusing the Law of the Excluded Middle. (I have argued elsewhere that Descartes' EGO, unacceptable to Zen, results from such abuse). P.289 The answer to Cheng's (8), the problem of what a dedicated Buddhist should do when asked by others for Enlightenment, while he is hanging on to a high branch for dear life with his teeth, is that what seem to be contradictories " I must stay silent now to preach often again " and " I must preach now and never preach again " are only contraries. Possibilities like using ones legs for signalling to the questioner to help the preacher down must also be considered! (One might even tap out "S.O.S." in Zen Morse code with ones heels!) Cheng's (9)poses the question: how should one address a buffalo that was the Monk Kuai Shan in the previous life? As Buffalo or as Monk Kuai Shan? Presumably it seems to the unskilled that these alternatives must be inferred to be individually unsuitable, and to be mutually exclsive, and to be the only alternatives. But "O thou who art now incarnated as a buffalo and was last incarnated as the Monk Kuei Shan" would seem to do the trick. The possible contraries " I ought to address X as Z " and " I ought to address X as W" are treated as contradictories. The diagnosis is again (IV). (10 "I see mountain not as mountain; and I see water not as water." Well, I can see the lights projected onto a screen to form a film's great battle scene as a real battle scene outside the Great Walls of Peking and know it is merely the effect of light beams and celluloid. What we seem to have(I) "here is an element of pseudo-contradicton. " (11) "What is gained is what is not gained." In a religious context we can reasonably expect " gained" to mean "stored up physically with other things in one's treasure chest" or "added physical and legally to one's property" in the word gain's more worldly use, and to mean "attained by the mind, spirit, soul, or new and highter form of consciousness" in an unwordly use. Where is the paradox? Or again, with Cheng's (12) "Attach to this, detach from this", we expect in a religious context that a man might be asked to protect a temple's treasures earnestly, yet not to become possessive about or arrogant about the treasures that he guards. He must attach to the temple's treasures yet detach from them. The diagnosis is (III). Cheng gives more fascinating examples, but I su- spect that he and the reader can handle these on similar lines to show that the philosophically disciplined and imaginative mind need not find them strongly paradoxical in a sense that Cheng has yet made clear enough. This is not, of course, to conclude that such questions and sayings are not paradoxical in some ways. P.290 Still less is it to say that they cannot be mind- enlarging for persons still too prone to see ordinary language as a mere tool for mainpulating their fellows and their environment, or as the only means for properly expressing and conveying facts relevant to their aspirations. One might put it like this: to pupils who know a lot about Taoism and Buddhism and philosophical reasoning, but do not yet know how to use such knowledge wisely and well, Cheng's examples of type I will seem paradoxical, but they are not paradoxical in any presently clear sense. Question II : ANALYSIS OF TYPE II PARADOXES How useful is the following body of comment on Cheng's paradoxes of Type II? Type II paradoxes, says Cheng, are ones with "paradoxicality in the dialogic relation where either the question or the answer is paradoxical." (88). "(1) Consider Type I,example (1)ów 'Show me your original face before hou were born'ów as an answer to the question "What is the principle of Buddhism?'" (88). I have already suggested that for several reasons the "Show me, etc." response seems to have quite unparadoxical uses in a number of contexts. Nor need the initial question, it seems clear, be necessarly paradoxical in use. But the combination can in many cases, probably not all, be understood as what some linguists might be induced to call deviantly paired.(Compare Cheng's predicates (D) and (E) on page 85, previously cited.) A request is made to an expert on Z, who is purported to be willing to import discussive informative about Z. Here the most conventional dialogic pairing ów to use Cheng's term ówis going to be Illocutionary-Art- of-Questioning-about-the-nature-of-Z.(from-questioner) FOLLOWED BY Indicative sentence-used-to-state-directly- something-relevant-and-indeed-crucial-about-Z-(from- respondent.) Instead the teacher replies with an Illocutionary Art of Command, involving no direct or obviously direct reference to the subject matter of the question. In fact, the imperative sentence used will seem bizarre in its own right, (as well as bizarre qua response), to someone who cannot make good use of his philosophical training. But when used as an enlightening reminder, (trading on the shock value of breaking conventional ów or, some would simply say, expected ów patterns of dialogic exchange). P.291 that a person is not just a spatio-temporal chunk of meat, nor just a---, nor just a...., the response may be an invaluable means of getting someone to understand one or more of the central truths and goals of Buddhism. The pupil may have diligently studied and memorized a great many Buddhist writings. Nevertheless, the teacher's strange answer in the context may induce in the student for the first time the state of mind which the writings were mainly intended to help all mankind to attain. This sort of explanation of a 'Type II Paradox' is sympathetic, but it seems to fall short of Cheng's claims in at least two ways (i) It does not produce a very striking contrast between the religious discourse of Zen Buddhist and that of other religious groups. Take, for example, those in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. (ii) It may seem to lack the very complex ontological significance that Cheng insists upon. Let us now confine ourselves to (i): the Judaeo-Christian radition abounds with examples of questions posed by those with less understanding that are parried with strange answers from the enlightened: parables whose point is not immediately obvious, a Jewish prophet like Amos telling the Lawabiding that they betray the Law. Jesus' request for a Roman coin when the Pharisees ask him about conflicts between religious and political laws, etc. (2) "Consider the following answers to questions (like "Don't call it a pitcher, but tell me what it is?"): It cannot be called sandals'. Or the answerer does not speak but instead kicks down the pitcher." (88). Answering "It cannot be called sandals", can be a way of saying partly what X is by saying that it is not Y. (Compare the Western concept of Via Negativa). Such a way is not necessarily paradoxical in response to one who forbids that a pitcher be called a pitcher but demands to know what the pitcher is. By contrast, Cheng's alternative, the response of kicking down the pitcher, which is not a linguistic response, is far more interesting. The response can signify the respondent's admiration for Chuang-Tzu's celebrated attacks on conventional values and labels and linguistic patterns. The response can thus be a Zenlike protest against the tyranny of conventional distinctions and criteria, a tyranny which results from treating language like a perfect map and mirror of all reality, rather than a tool like a net for dealing with some facets of human life and its environment. (See Cheng's remarks on page 82). Yet this useful response is not so different from Jesus' act of remaining silent when Pontios Pilnteasus " What is Truth? ": Jesus indicates P.292 by silence that the important truths of religion cannot be expressed in the pat phrases of Roman Law, or Romanized Hellenism, or Athenian Academies. It is better expressed in many cases simply by personal example, or by preaching in parables not just at any timeówas with the Romans' impersonal decress-but at the right, personally relevant, opportune time, [To Kairon], for the individuals who really seek truth instead of posing detached questions. Compare Jesus' clam silence before Pilate with his cries and violent upturning of money-changers' tales in the Temple. Hence in the case of Cheng's (2) it seems that something of ontological importance may well be signified, but not in a way that makes Zen methods of religious teaching quite unique, as he appears to suggest on page 78. Question III :ZEN PARADOXES OF TYPES III AND IV. How useful is the following body of comment? Paradoxes of Type III are said to exhibit "para- doxicality in the dialogic relation, but where the question and the answer itself do not contain paradoxicality." (p.89) Cheng's cases(1), (2), (3) and (5) seem to from one quite distinct class. A question is asked about a particular topic. Then a deviantly paired 'response' is offered which is a statement or an exclamation concerning an entirely different topic. Thus we get Cheng's (1): " 'What is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?' 'How tall these bamboos are !' " The instructive Shock Value of such pairings would seem to be extremely vulnerable to the Law of Diminishing Returns. For once the student ceases to expect as a matter of Zen convention that a Zen master will respect the convention that questions should be followed by obviously relevant answers in response, the effect of such answers will be largely the fulfilment of a new conventional pattern. (If everyone in a community cries "Wolf" when he feels lonely, it becomes a convention in the end, but a self-defeating convention.) Cheng's examples (4) and (6) deserve to be separated from the rest. " (4) ' What is a drop of water from Chao Brook ? ' ' It is a drop of water from Chao Brook.' (6) ' What is ordinary mind ?' 'The foxes and grasses are ordinary mind.' " (p.89) In (4) a request for new information about some x such that x is P is met, contrary to most of the relevant normal conventions, by the contex- p.293 tually uninformative response that such an x is P. Such a pairing can be unconventional in context. But it is often a conventional pairing by now when the ordinary respondent offers such a reply as an elegant mode of signalling that he refuses to discuss the subject (any more), or that he has no wish to converse about anything with the questioner, or that the questioner is moving too fast on a tricky subject and should slow down, or that the questioner is talking too much when he should be approaching the subject differently. If the Zen Master wishes to utilize any of these normal conventions, then there is nothing paradoxical about the pairing to explain. Otherwie (4) is a different sort of paradoxical pairing from (1), (2), (3) and (5): it does say something about the subject of the question but it adds nothing because it offers no new information. As for (6) the expression "ordinary mind" is to unclear perhaps a better translation is needed-that the only natural answer in most contexts would seem to " i don't know what you mean by ordinary mind." Quite possibly some enlighteningly Rylean sort of Category Joke is offered by the respondent in the original language? The Anglo-Saxon reader cannot tell until the meaning of the question is elucidated. Type IV paradoxes are said to exhibit paradoxi- cality in the contrast of the plain discourse and the background intention of the questioner (89). In all three of Cheng's cases the questioner plays at being interested in a subject and gets the respondent to respond in deadly earnest. The teacher then reveals that his interest lies not in the subject mentioned, but in giving the respondent a somewhat humorous and also somewhat violent push in the direction of Englishtenment. Here again the Shock Value diminishes as the student comes to recognise not the violation of a convention but the repitition of a now familiar pattern with a now familiar purpose: a new (Zen) convention is being followed. The Shock Value must soon derive not from the 'paradoxical' following of a once novel-looking convention, but from the ingenuity and originality the teacher uses in following a now recognisable convention. Even what is highly conventional in many respects can be shatteringly unexpected for a particular person in a particular dialogic exchange. P.294 I find a need to try evoking still further res- ponses from Professor Cheng about his important, but difficult paper. I shall attempt this by suggesting some topics that seem to merit further clarification from Cheng's point of view. Topic I : Illocutionary and Perlocutionary Acts. Cheng shows strong interest in J.L.Austin's philosophy of language on pages 81 and 100-101 of his paper. It would be useful to know to what extent he would approve of the following account of part of what goes on in many dialogic exchanges between Zen teachers and new pupils. When the new pupil arrives, despite his familiarity with much Buddhist and Taoist scriptures, he is largely unfamiliar with the conventional patterns of Zen masters' conversations and behaviour. For this reason the teacher can play at performing various illocutionary acts of the new pupil's own society. Illocutionary acts which are grounded in conventions that the new pupil has faithfully followed since childhood. Because the new pupil does not realize that the teacher is really playing at performing such illocutionary acts, the teacher can 'perform' them and violate the conventions in various ways in order to complete what are non-conventional perlocutionary acts. (In telling his listeners that he has uncontrolled leprosy, a speaker performs an illocutionary act of informing them of his condition. By using the sentence he can complete the PERlocutionary acts of warning them to be cautions and of verbally upsetting them) . Thus it should be highly undesirable for Zen Buddhists and their admirers to let too many readers know about Zen masters' modus operand should the prospective pupil no longer expect the teacher to respect certain illocutionary conventions, the perlocuionary effect of shaking pupils up will become less easily attainable. The class of illocutionary acts will tend to swallow more and more of the class of perlocutionary deeds, forcing the Zen teacher to abandon many traditional techniquesówor to seek his religious Shock Effect by his orignality and ingenuity in making a known convention of Zen continue to surprise even those who know of the Zen convention. Topic II:Assertions and Aberrations. John Searle, a famous, but not slavish commentator on Austin, has urged that we distinguish a seeming sentence which really makes no semantic sort of sense from a meaningful, intelligible sentence whose position in a dialogue is aberrant. (Thus the P.295 Wittgensteinian is right to say that " I know that I can talk and see trees" is hard to pair, but wrong to call it philosophers' NONSENSE.) This distinction is largely observed by Cheng, (who might usefully have touched a little on Searle in his exposition), when he divides his 'paradoxes' into four types. The Shock Value of a Zen response often depends upon its being an aberrant utterance in relation to a certain dialogue between certain speakers. But a sentence normally appears aberrant to a speaker insofar as its location strikes him as violating familiar conventions rather than exemplifying them. So here again there is something almost paradoxical about a teacher or admirer of Zen's deliberate attempt to tell the unconverted in advance about such a crucial modus operandi. Sometimes, we learn from Cheng and others, we find uses of odd gestures, like slapping faces, kicking buckets, or tweaking the hearer's nose painfully, to obtain the same results as are sought in perlocutionary uses of ordinary discourse by Zen masters. Once more the unexpectedness of such gestures, their relatively aberrant character as one might say, is crucial. Topic III : Reducing Ontic Commitment by Des- troying the Student's Metaphysical Allegiance to Various Linguistic Forms. I find Cheng's cross-cultural remarks about Ontic Commitment on pages 90-95 profoundly suggestive, but exceptionally hard to be sure of mastering. He resorts to W.V. Quine's vexing contrast between objectual and substitutional quantification. It might help to simplify part of what he says if Chen would evaluate the possible interest for Zen teachers of two rather different methods for reducing ontic commitment by shaking up a student's metaphysical attachments to certain linguistic forms. (1) Straightforward Replacemnt in Paraphrases. For those who combine awe for ' Surface Structure' with a belief that meaningful Noun Phrases must denote some distinct obbject, one can sometimes provide the needed jolt by appealing to straightforward replacement in paraphrases. Consider, for example, the following possible answers to uses of the question: "Why did the Zen Master who briefly turned policeman keep pelting the noters with won-ton balls, marshmallows and cocktail olives?" A-I "Pacification (1) was the only purpose (2)." A-II "It (1) was done for the sake (2) of peace (3)." A-III "The object (1) of all his (2) activity (3) was their (4) ceasing (5) quickly to fight (6)." P.296 A-IV "In order to tranquillize those (1)involv- ed, he (2) humorously followed this procedure (3)". A-V "Fighting (1) could only be stopped thus". In answers I to V. we point out to the victim of referential pertinacity, all amount to the same answer, with no serious different in detail, given the context of the question. Yet they seem to suggest in their different ways, that a suitable answer need commit us to at most one, at most three, and at very least six different entities' existence. Getting students to try such paraphrases for many such sentences which occur to them may break the spell of language, and especially of so-called Surface Structure. (2) The Distinction between Phenomenal Truth- Checking Conditions and Transcendental Truth- Conditions. The student trapped more stickily in the web of ordinary language or of alleged ideal languages may retort like this: "Perhaps 'Pacification was the only purpose' can be analysed out in terms of many possible alternative entities or pseudo-entities. But cases like 'Brutus stabbed Caesar' and 'At least one Dowager Empress reigned over China for thirty years' cannot be analysed out in such a way that no clear ontic commitment is made by a speaker who asserts their truth. Anyone who asserts that Brutus stabbed Caesar is committed to the existence of at least two distinct entities, Brutus and Caesar. In the second case, he who makes the assertion, and says it is literally true, performs objectual quantification over at least one female, human ruler and at least one spatio-temporal chunk, China, and at least one class of spatio-temporal chunks-the ordered pair: < Female ruler (at ti-tn), Chinese subjects (at ti- tn)>". The Zen teacher may now consider falling back on the following tactic which I have advocated elsewhere. One distinguishes between, first, the Phenomenal Truth-Checking Conditions (PT-CCs) for the ontological Plura-list's assertion of the English sentence "Brutus stabbed Caesar", (or of a synonymous Chinese sentence) and, second, the Transcendental Truth Conditions (TTCs) that rival metaphysicians hold to be satisfied by the PT-CCs. The Pluralist-Platonist holds that the PT-CCs warrant the inference that at least one Universal outside of Space and Time, (STABBING), must be included in ones ontology. The Pluralist-Nominalist recognises no such inferences or abstract objects, though he is no less familiar with the PT-CCs. All ontological Pluralists insist that the PT-CCs establish the existence of at P.297 least two distinct entities. But the ontological Monist replies that, according to his TTCs, the PT-CCs merely allow this interence: " Whereto THE ONE once Brutussed and Caesared closely, Thereto The ONE once stabbed and was-stabbed" Hector Castaneda has recently produced a formal language that is Pluralist yet devoid of Russellian Relations. I suggest that by multiplying examples of the profoundly differing ontological inferences which coherent and articulate metaphysicians somehow manage to derive confidently from the same set of Phenomenal Truth-Checking Conditions, the teacher of Zen can hope to make his pupil think twice about the dogma that the ontological structure of Facts is GIVEN in experience and WRITTEN STILL LARGER in the sentences that everyone (or 'the expert' on logic) uses to state such Facts. Talk of using both (1) the Straightforward Para- phrase Technique and (2) and PT-CC/TTC distinction is talk that some teachers of Zen might find more clear and more clearly to the point than arguments about the controversial notions of substitutional and objectual quantification in Quine's and his rivals' writings. But I am far from sure of this. FINAL TOPIC : Clarification of ways in which the Zen teachings do and do not involve anything like Ontological Commitment. On page 83, Cheng writes of "Stage 3: The post-Enlightenmant stage where one is able to freely use language for various purposes of instruction and verification of certain relevant experiences towards Enlightenment and where such use of language becomes an integral part of the goal achievement." In this stage one has "experience of the ultimate truth." But surely something discursive can be said with some point for the sympathetic but unenlightened philosopher. Does the Zen teacher seek ontic noncommitment about what is ultimate, because the notion of a unified process is better than the typical Western philosopher's preoccupation with substances or individuals? Because both the Pluralist's and the Monist's ways of looking at the wrold are captured by the insights of enlightenment? (Or rather, because neither model is at all helpful?) Because talk of " nothingness" helps us to understand that the world is not a thing or set of things (substances, individuals) ? Because the ultimate is causative like a Unit Set or Universal Set, yet as unlike familiar P.298 things as is the Empty Set? I have not been ironic, nor sarcastically schem- ing and schematizing, when I have proposed these varied questions and topics for a series of comments by Professor Cheng. Because of difficulties in translation, or owing to great gulfs between what Wittgenstein called Forms of Life, the points that I have tried to raise may all prove to make me look foolish. For maybe they are all wildly far off the mark. But if the Western philosopher could even grasp why such intended points and questions about Zen must be wide of the mark, he might also gain a philosophically deeper understanding of Zen thanks to a specially humbling form of Negative Way. Thus I respectfully submit this assortment of inquiries and perplexities to Cheng. I hope that they may enable him to make still clearer what Zen discourse is and what it is not.