Thread: Kukai and Dogen

  1. #1
    Forums Member
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    Dec 2012

    Kukai and Dogen

    Hello everyone,
    First time posting here but it seems I have exhausted all other places on the internet! I am writing my Intro to Philosophy final that is due this week and the question is to basically show how the Shingon-shu and Soto-shu schools founded by Kukai and Dogen, respectively, remain faithful to the basic Buddhist tradition. I am having a lot of trouble with this so any help would be much appreciated. I am not looking for anyone to write a paper for, just to point me in the right direction.
    Thank you so much,

  2. #2
    Welcome Chris,

    Its possible that you might find some information at the Zen Site:

    with kind regards,


  3. #3
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by drose2032 View Post
    Dogen, remain faithful to the basic Buddhist tradition.
    hi Drose

    with regards to meditation, Dōgen instructed "just sitting"
    In referring to zazen, Dōgen is most often referring specifically to shikantaza, roughly translatable as "nothing but precisely sitting", which is a kind of sitting meditation in which the meditator sits "in a state of brightly alert attention that is free of thoughts, directed to no object, and attached to no particular content".

    originally, Buddha taught meditation the same, as follows:

    There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore.

    Anapanasati Sutta
    And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go [vossaga], attains concentration, attains singleness of mind.

    Indriya-vibhanga Sutta
    And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release & letting go [vossaga] of that very craving.

    Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion
    as shown, the original practise of Buddhism is to sit still & generate a mind of "mindfulness", which means a mind the maintains itself it the state of no craving; of letting go of craving.

    therefore, the meditation teaching of Dogen conforms with the original discourses of Buddha (where as the Theravada schools, which try to practise the results of just sitting rather than just sitting itself, do not practise according to the original teachings)

    when Buddha taught, for example, "calming the breathing", it is not required to intentionally calm the breathing. one's very effort watch, follow & calm breathing will ultimately inhibit calming the breathing


  4. #4
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    The primary concept underlying Dōgen's Zen practice is "oneness of practice-enlightenment" (修證一如 shushō-ittō / shushō-ichinyo).

    For Dōgen, the practice of zazen and the experience of enlightenment were one and the same. This point was succinctly stressed by Dōgen in the Fukan Zazengi, the first text that he composed upon his return to Japan from China:

    To practice the Way singleheartedly is, in itself, enlightenment. There is no gap between practice and enlightenment or zazen and daily life.

    Earlier in the same text, the basis of this identity is explained in more detail:

    Zazen is not "step-by-step meditation". Rather it is simply the easy and pleasant practice of a Buddha, the realization of the Buddha's Wisdom. The Truth appears, there being no delusion. If you understand this, you are completely free, like a dragon that has obtained water or a tiger that reclines on a mountain. The supreme Law will then appear of itself, and you will be free of weariness and confusion.

    The "oneness of practice-enlightenment" was also a point stressed in the Bendōwa (弁道話 "A Talk on the Endeavor of the Path") of 1231:

    Thinking that practice and enlightenment are not one is no more than a view that is outside the Way. In buddha-dharma [i.e. Buddhism], practice and enlightenment are one and the same. Because it is the practice of enlightenment, a beginner's wholehearted practice of the Way is exactly the totality of original enlightenment. For this reason, in conveying the essential attitude for practice, it is taught not to wait for enlightenment outside practice.

    as shown in my previous post, the path of meditation is to keep the wisdom (Right View) of the Four Noble Truths in the mind. the wisdom of the 4NTs is the letting go of craving. "keeping in the mind" is mindfulness. therefore, there is no separation of path & result. the Noble Path starts with enlightenment & proceeds to greater enlightenment.

    the Theravada schools incorrectly teach there can be a path starting with morality, then moving to concentration, then moving to wisdom

    Buddha's path starts with wisdom and therefore Dogen conformed with Buddha.

    Buddha taught:

    372. There is no meditative concentration for him who lacks wisdom and no wisdom for him who lacks meditative concentration. He in whom are found both meditative concentration and insight, indeed, is close to Nibbana.

    Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

    One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

    Maha-cattarisaka Sutta: The Great Forty
    right view is the right view of the nature of enlightenment. thus, the Noble Practitioner must begin with small enlightenment to reach final enlightenment


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