The main contribution of (Western) Analytical Philosophy in the history of human thinking is: it believes that many problems that bother people are actually not problems at all, they are just "false problems." Some questions have not been answered satisfactorily for a long time, not because people have limited abilities, but because the way of asking questions is inherently problematic. Once you follow the train of thought of asking questions in this way, you will sooner or later lead people into a dilemma of infinite ‘no answer’. Therefore, analytical philosophy strives to drive all false questions out of the scope of human thinking, so that people can obtain peace of mind by simply ‘not thinking’ about certain topics.
Similarly, Chinese Ch’an also states that there are many false problems, but its technique of dealing with these problems is different to that of analytical philosophy. Chinese Ch’an teaches that only by restoring the ‘genuine’ or ‘underlying’ questioner (or ‘perceiving the empty mind ground from which ALL questions arise’) can the problems these questions represent be avoided in the genuine sense. Therefore, just as the Western academic scholars might ‘give voice’ to these false questions - the Chinese Ch’an Master refuses to give a positive answer, but crucially, (and often a point not acknowledged in the West) the Ch’an Master does not give a negative answer.
However, it should be pointed out that the distinction between true and false questions within analytical philosophy is also inherently problematic: if the boundary is meaningless (and lacks ‘substance’), then the true question, regardless of its scope, cannot be properly ‘fixed’, ‘located’ or even ‘asked’; on the other-hand, if the question is too meaningful - and possesses definite ‘boundaries’ of import, then it cannot represent the problem of inherent ‘falsity’ as it has ‘concretised’ into something ‘real’ and ‘limited’ in time and space. The recent developments in Western thinking are repeatedly attempting to explain this dialectical problem and double-bind, but in so doing, tend to favour the ‘negation’ of the question. This has led some Western scholars to mistakenly assume that they are implementing a ‘Chinese Ch’an solution’, but this is not the case.
As far as Ch’an is concerned, all questions are unnecessary movements of the surface mind, nothing but habitual contrivances that manifest as ‘false questions’ mistakenly interpreted as being both ‘valid’ and structurally ‘three-dimensional’ in the material world! The tetrelemma of Nagarjuna explains the Ch’an position – 1) everything ‘is’, 2) Everything ‘is not’, 3) Everything both ‘is’ and ‘is not’ and 4) everything is neither ‘is’ and ‘is not’ - so what's the problem? Only the intrinsic realisation of the ‘self-nature’ (as the ‘empty mind ground’) denotes a "person who is not deceived by others", and ‘who understands the law perpetually at peace’. Once enlightened, the problems of defilement, true delusion, life and death - and many other conflicts - although not resolved in the conventional sense, have been completely eliminated in the delusional sense. In other words, all (deluded) questions disappear before they ‘arise’ - as the habitual (inner) conditions that formulate a ‘dualistic’ and ‘suffering-inducing’ question in the mind - have been perpetually ‘removed’.
In contrast, the development of analytic philosophy is very incomplete. It merely attempts to persuades people not to pay attention to the various problems relating to ‘value’ and ‘freedom’ that are incapable of being subjected to ‘reason’, leading to these metaphysical issues still plaguing everyone who lives a serious life. Ch’an Buddhism is different. Its resolution of problems brings people a real "usefulness", which is the tranquillity and clarity of the whole (united) inner and outer being. The Ch’an method permeates the depths of people's hearts and breaks the source of delusion in one fell swoop. How can the complexity and difficulty the Ch’an method employs be conceived and inferred through the narrow experiences and thinking associated with everyday existence?
In summary, what this article is trying to illustrate is just this: Ch’an Buddhism is a part of the entire Buddhist system, no matter how much Ch’an surpasses the Buddha and the ancestors. If you want to keep your understanding of Ch’an from deviating, you should also find a basis within the sutras and understand it from the entire Buddhist philosophical background. At present, there are no other thought systems that can properly interpret Ch’an. If you abandon the scriptures, rely on your own brains, and adhere to Ch’an with some kind of thinking that suits your taste, even if you don’t enter the cave of deluded ghosts, you will eventually fall into a ‘dead void’. These are the products of a lack of genuine knowledge with regard to Ch’an self-cultivation. The ‘Perfect Enlightenment’ Sutra (圆觉经 - Yuan Jue Jing) says ‘The Tathagata-Realm is infinite and an individual mind (and heart) cannot fathom its vastness through an egotistical self-effort – which is like a firefly trying to impossibly burn the infinite dimensions of Mount Sumeru!’ The Western mind needs to breakout of its own self-contained isolation and comprehend the limitations that this cultural programming entails.