Fox Koan and Dream: Dogen's New Light on Causality and Purity

Asian Philosophy 21 (3):251 - 256 (2011)
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The consummate Soto Zen master, Dogen (1200?1253), expressed himself in creative ways that reflected fundamental insights of Chan/Zen Buddhism while responding to the needs of his time and place, i.e., Kamakura era Japan. His early training in Tendai and Rinzai Zen lent rigor and force to his Soto Zen experiences and expressions. This paper explores Dogen's new light on causality and morality purity, vis-à-vis Song dynasty Chan approaches by examining (1) his comments, early (1244) and late (ca. 1252), on the Fox Koan, and (2) his discussions about Dream and ?veridical? experience. By showing the inexorability of causality, Dogen revealed the need for moral purity in achieving enlightenment qua freedom. Even in the vertigo of emptiness, the purified Soto Zen Buddhist adept discerns and effects equilibrium and, by extension, fairness, in experience, practice and affairs, as ongoing endeavors, as skilful means to impact and transform, not just Buddhist adepts, but one's world



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