Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Emptiness and the Sentient Nature of Reality

Emptiness and the Sentient Nature of Reality
Among the vast number of characteristics Dogen’s Shobogenzo attributes to emptiness, are these six, decidedly positive, characteristics:
Emptiness is present in/as existence-time
Emptiness is differentiated
Emptiness is active
Emptiness is sentient
Emptiness is intelligible
Emptiness is communicable
Even after a short foray into Dogen’s treatment of emptiness in the first fascicle written for Shobogenzo –Maka-hannya-haramitsu – it is clear that his vision of emptiness cannot be understood as negative or apophatic. This point merits emphasis; the meticulous attention to, and refutations of negativistic views of emptiness in Shobogenzo testifies to the pervasiveness of such distortions in Dogen’s era. The distorting power of negativistic views of emptiness can and does obstruct practitioners from clearly seeing any aspect of Zen, not to mention actualizing its wisdom.
The Sentient Nature of Reality
I meet with a human being, a human being meets with a human being, I meet with myself, and manifestation meets with manifestation.
Shobogenzo, Uji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
What has been described like this is that life is the self, and the self is life.
Shobogenzo, Zenki, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
Dogen’s treatment of emptiness, in his (altered) citation of the Heart Sutra followed by the series of affirmative expressions on the nature of the self, the world, and the myriad dharmas presents (makes present) a glimpse into the grand vision of Shobogenzo. Right there, in the very first fascicle of Shobogenzo, the common thread that binds together and runs throughout the whole of Dogen’s masterpiece is prominently evident. That thread is the reason (dori) of the nonduality of duality, and the duality of nonduality.
In short, experience, existence, and liberation (epistemology, ontology, and soteriology) are nondual; the experience of clear seeing, the existence of prajna, and the actualization of liberation are three, but are not three different things. The nature and dynamics of the actualization of the universe (genjokoan) advanced by the nonduality of experience, existence, and liberation is creatively brought into relief in numerous ways and from a great variety of perspectives throughout Shobogenzo. To clearly see (i.e. know, experience, encounter) is to be (i.e. appear, exist, manifest), thus to clearly see liberation (Buddhahood, enlightenment, deliverance) is to be liberation. More precisely, the continuous activity of seeing Buddha (kenbutsu) is the continuous activity of becoming Buddha (gyobutsu). Your life (sentient existence) is what you clearly see (sentient experience), what you clearly see is your life.
So life is what I am making it, and I am what life is making me.
Shobogenzo, Zenki, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

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