This article examines the issue of the paradoxicality of institution, de-institutionalization, or the counter-institutionalization in classical Chan thought by focusing on the texts of Hongzhou School. It first analyzes the problem of 20th century scholars in characterizing the Chan attitude toward institution as iconoclasts, and the problem of the recent tendency to return to images of the Chan masters as traditionalists, as opposed to iconoclasts. Both problems are examples of imposing an oppositional way of thinking on the Chan masters. The essay then introduces a new paradigm for interpreting the Chan attitude toward institution, the model of de-institutionalization, which borrows certain insights from Derrida's idea of the counter-institutional. However, the new model is supported by the Chan heritage of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. This model can more consistently construe the Chan understanding of the paradoxicality of institution, the subtle Chan relationship of being "with and against" institution, and the Chan "middle way" to make institution remain open to its outside and to transformation.
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