Visions of Awakening Space and Time: D=ogen and the Lotus Sutraby Taigen Dan Leighton
Pub. Date: 05/11/2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
As a religion concerned with universal liberation, Zen grew out of a Buddhist worldview very different from the currently prevalent scientific materialism. Indeed, says Taigen Dan Leighton, Zen cannot be fully understood outside of a worldview that sees reality itself as a vital, dynamic agent of awareness and healing. In this book, Leighton explicates that
As a religion concerned with universal liberation, Zen grew out of a Buddhist worldview very different from the currently prevalent scientific materialism. Indeed, says Taigen Dan Leighton, Zen cannot be fully understood outside of a worldview that sees reality itself as a vital, dynamic agent of awareness and healing. In this book, Leighton explicates that worldview through the writings of the Zen master Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253), considered the founder of the Japanese Sōtō Zen tradition, which currently enjoys increasing popularity in the West.
The Lotus Sutra, arguably the most important Buddhist scripture in East Asia, contains a famous story about bodhisattvas (enlightening beings) who emerge from under the earth to preserve and expound the Lotus teaching in the distant future. The story reveals that the Buddha only appears to pass away, but actually has been practicing, and will continue to do so, over an inconceivably long life span.
Leighton traces commentaries on the Lotus Sutra from a range of key East Asian Buddhist thinkers, including Daosheng, Zhiyi, Zhanran, Saigyo, Mye, Nichiren, Hakuin, and Rykan. But his main focus is Eihei Dōgen, the 13th century Japanese Sōtō Zen founder who imported Zen from China, and whose profuse, provocative, and poetic writings are important to the modern expansion of Buddhism to the West.
Dōgen's use of this sutra expresses the critical role of Mahayana vision and imagination as the context of Zen teaching, and his interpretations of this story furthermore reveal his dynamic worldview of the earth, space, and time themselves as vital agents of spiritual awakening.
Leighton argues that Dōgen uses the images and metaphors in this story to express his own religious worldview, in which earth, space, and time are lively agents in the bodhisattva project. Broader awareness of Dōgen's worldview and its implications, says Leighton, can illuminate the possibilities for contemporary approaches to primary Mahayana concepts and practices.
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 9.30(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Table of Contents
I. The Pivotal Lotus Story and Dogen's Worldview
II. Hermeneutics and Discourse Styles in Study of the Lotus Sutra and Dogen
III. Selected East Asian Interpretations of the Story
IV. Dogen's Interpretations of this Lotus Sutra Story
V. Dogen's View of Earth, Space, and Time Seen in Mahayana Context
Afterword: Implications of Dogen's Mahayana Worldview
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You've heard of the Lotus Sutra. Maybe you've tried to read it. Mystical stories. Polemics against other teachings. Rejoicing that the Buddha is about to preach the Lotus Sutra. Does he ever go ahead and do it? What do people get out of this scripture? Who finds it relevant? Dogen, the greatest figure in Japanese Zen, for one. Leighton explains. The whole worldview of Zen turns out to reflect this lotus.