The „Indirect Message“ in Kierkegaard and Chán Buddhism

Comparative Philosophy, Volume 11, Issue 1 (2020), San José, California, USA


The article seeks to analyse Kierkegaard’s indirecte Meddelelse, which the author proposes to translate as ‘indirect message’. It attempts to consider and illuminate this concept and its general characteristics, types and cases in Kierkegaard’s work. They are to serve as a baseline for investigations of indirect messages in Buddhism, especially the famous ‘public cases’ (gong-àn / kōan 公案) of the Chán Buddhists. The author tries to specify indirect messages on both sides of the cultural divide in terms of some Western philosophers. Kierkegaard’s theoretical rationale for his indirect message is profound, sophisticated and appropriate to the theoretical investigation of the Chán public cases. Chán representatives do not possess such pertinent tools for the formal analysis of their own or other indirect messages. However, their indirect messages are impressive in their formal diversity; their variety is, unlike Kierkegaard’s counterparts, not limited by orthodox theological residues.