Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 August 2019
Buddhist and Hindu discourse often juxtapose statements about the inexpressibility of ultimate reality with descriptions drawing on metaphor and paradox. This raises the question of how particular types of metaphor fulfill the role of expressing what is believed to be inexpressible. The current study employs a cognitive linguistic framework to examine how modern Buddhist and Hindu religious teachers use metaphor to talk about enlightenment. Adopting a usage-based approach focusing on how figurative language is recontexualized by the same speaker within a stretch of discourse, the study identifies a recurrent pattern within the discourse on enlightenment that consists of four elements. The first is source domain reversal, which we define as a speaker making use of a particular source domain to refer to a target, and then later, in the same discourse segment, using a source domain with a seemingly opposite meaning to refer to the same target. The other three involve a movement from force to object-based schemas, from the perceived revelation of more conventional to deeper truths, and from description of a process to description of a state. We conclude by briefly discussing our findings within the context of research on apophatic discourse in other religions.
We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to general editor Jeannette Littlemore who handled the submission, and to the two reviewers. The speed and quality of the submission and review process was astonishing. Funding for this research was provided by JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI-16KT008306).