chapter  6
20 Pages


Emptying ecology and Chan Buddhism
ByEric S. Nelson

Chan/Zen Buddhist lineages share a number of historical connections and philosophical and stylistic affinities with early and medieval Daoism. The Chan conception of emptiness expresses a practice of emptying that has significant implications for an imperfectionist ethics without fixated norms and principles and is suggestive for an environmental ethics that calls for the dereification and liberation of things. Given the risks of an ethically questionable reification and essentialism of words and practices, in which one no longer hears or responds ethically to others, Chan Buddhism can contest fixation and domination. In affinity with Daoist strategies, it indicates ways of placing such structures and its own self-reification into question. The apparent ethical skepticism, iconoclasm, and antinomianism of Daoist and Chan Buddhist discourses can be a point of departure for ethics and ecology if such expressions do not only skeptically destabilize conventional morality and immorality but performatively enact a dao of responsiveness through exposing oneself and things to their own emptiness.