Dimensionality in Dōgen's conception of enlightenment

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1992-05
Authors
Fujikawa, Robin H.
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Dōgen's apparent play with language in the Shōbōgenzo constructs philosophically significant models of linguistic expression and enlightenment. Challenging the conception of enlightenment as exclusively Unitarian and ineffable, he drives the expressive potentials of koan language to reveal three distinct dimensions of enlightenment, each with its own originative experience, language, and operations. By identifying the three-dimensional model of enlightenment that the koan model of linguistic expression is used to present in the Shōbōgenzo, this dissertation explains Dōgen's treatment of the relation between enlightenment and language as inseparable processes of mutual development. The intrinsically expressive nature of enlightenment notwithstanding, the differentiation of enlightenment into dimensions is not the result of categorization of expressive forms or dialectical interaction of logical categories. By following the course of the realization of each dimension from its unique originative experience through its "total exertion" (gūjin) in praxis to its expression, actualization, and "falling away" (datsuraku), this dissertation attempts to identify dimensions as discrete domains of enlightenment that display definite and describable features, relations, careers, operations, and soteriological possibilities. The first dimension is the domain of the unitary dharma that arises and disports in relations of dependent co-origination. The second dimension is the domain of consummate (buddha) dharmas as multiple units of experience that are temporally and causally disengaged (zengo saidan) from each other but still enjoy a mutually dependent relation to a Hua-yen type of totality. The third dimension is the domain of the tracelessness that results from datsuraku, "falling away." This is the only dimension in which compassion for another being and upaya can arise. These domains of enlightenment determine rather than merely describe the various ways that praxisclarified experience is expressed. Because these domains are not simply discontinuous and optional modes of experience, but are interpenetrating structures of experience that are investigated in praxis as an orderly continuum called the "way of impermanence" (mujō no dōri), they are dimensions of enlightenment.
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Dōgen, Shōbōgenzo
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399
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