Showing posts with label Hee-Jin Kim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hee-Jin Kim. Show all posts
From Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist by Hee Jin Kim:

It was also in the context of the present time that Dögen's critique of the commonsense view of time as uniformly and one-directionally flowing and "coming and going (korai became most severe. For him, the first step toward the analysis of time was to understand the traditional Buddhist dictum: "Everything perishes as soon as it arises" (setsuna-shömetsu). However, the ordinary person was not aware of this truth, according to Dögen. Hence:
You should take note that the human body in this life is formed temporarily as a result of the combination of the four elements and the five skandhas. There are always the eight kinds of suffering [birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the beloved, union with the hated, frustrations, and those sufferings caused by clinging to the five skandhas), not to mention the fact that life arises and perishes instantaneously from moment to moment and does not abide at all, and the fact that there are sixty-five seisuas bom and annihilated in one tanji, yet the ordinary person does not realize this because of his/her own ignorance. Although one day and one night are comprised by 6,400,099,980 setsunas, and the five skandhas appear and disappear, he/she does not know these facts. Pity those who are altogether unaware of their own births and deaths!161
For Dogen, to investigate this aspect of impermanence was crucially important, philosophically and religiously. In short, the tenet "Everything perishes as soon as it arises" denied duration: The ultimate limit of momentariness was a lack of duration as well as an absence of coming and going. The commonsense view failed to see this.
Dögen analyzed the problem as follows:
When firewood becomes ash, it can no longer revert to firewood. Hence, you should not regard ash as following and firewood as preceding (as if
they formed the continuous process of a self-identical entity). Take note that firewood abides in its own Dharma-position (hot), having both before and after. Although there are before and after, they are cut off (zango saidan seri) (so that there remains only middle or present, i.e., the Dharmaposition of firewood). Likewise, ash resides in its own Dharma-position, possessing both before and after. Just as firewood does not revert to firewood again after having been burnt to ash, so death is not transformed into life after the individual is dead. Thus, do not hold that life becomes death; this is an authoritative teaching of the Buddha-dharma. Accordingly, call it nonlife (fisho). Buddha's authentic sermon proclaims that death does not change to life, accordingly, call it nondeath (fumetsu). Life is a position of total time, death is a position of total time as well. They are like winter and spring. We do not think that winter turns to spring or that spring turns to summer. 162
Firewood and ash, life and death, winter and spring all have their own Dharma positions that are absolutely discrete and discontinuous. Each has its before and after but is cut off from those Dharma-positions preceding and following. Because of its central importance to Dögen's mystical realism, we shall attempt to delve into the problem of abiding in the Dharma-position (jii-hoi) in some detail now.
First, a Dharma-position is composed of a particular here and now (a spatio temporal existence in the world); hence, it is inevitably comprised of the existential particularities biological, psychological, moral, philosophical, religious, and so forth-that are observed, compared, judged, and chosen in the dualistic scheme of things. That is to say, the existential particularities of a given moment constitute a particular position of time, which in turn is a Dharma-position. What makes a particular position of time a Dharma-position is the appropriation of these particularities in such a manner that they are seen nondualistically in and through the mediation of emptiness. As such, the significance of the existential qualities and phenomenalities of things and events is by no means minimized; on the contrary, they are reconstituted, without being naively phenomenalistic, in their true aspect of thusness. "Dharma abides in a Dharma-position" tho wa hot ni Misuru nari), therefore, it does not imply that the Dharma-position is in any way a self-limiting manifestation or a temporal instance of eternity. To abide in a Dharma-position should not be construed as instrumental or subsidiary to some idea of eternity, but rather as an end in itself as eternity in itself. Thus, the act of eating, for example, is viewed as self-sufficient in itself, it is the kōan realized in life (genjo-koan).
Second, such a particular here-and-now is also the bearer of the total situation in which it is lived. Dogen frequently used the expression he was so fond of "the total exertion of a single thing" (ippo-gujinor simply, "total exertion" (gjin). He wrote, for example:
Those who know a speck of dust know the entire universe; those who penetrate a single dharma penetrate all dharmas. If you do not penetrate all dharmas, you do not penetrate a dharma. When you understand the meaning of penetration (ts) and thereby penetrate thoroughly, you discern all dharmas as well as a single dharma. For this reason, while you study a speck of dust, you study the entire universe without fail.163
Elsewhere, related to the idea of the total exertion of a single thing, Dogen had this to say: "When one side is illumined, the other is darkened" (ippo o shasuru toki wa ippo wa kurashi). As I noted in the foregoing, when one eats, eating is the total activity at that particular moment and nothing else. All other things remain in darkness, so to speak. This does not mean, however, that this affirmation of eating is achieved through the negation of the existence of the "hidden" such would be dualistic. On the contrary, eating is enacted in such a way that it embodies, nondually and undefiledly, both the disclosed and the concealed, the part and the whole, microcosm and macrocosm. The activity of eating is, according to Dögen's favorite expression, the whole being of emptiness leaping out of itself" (honshin-chashursu). When part and whole are simultaneously and unobstructedly realized in the act of eating, it is the moment when the whole being of emptiness leaps out of itself, "mustering the whole body-mind" (shinjin o kashitet another favorite expression of Dögen. This is precisely what Dögen meant by "total realization" or "total function" (enki). As I intend to discuss this matter in a different context later, I shall quote just one passage in connection to this:
Life is, for example, like sailing in a boat. Although we set a sail, steer our course, and pole the boat along, the boat carries us and we do not exist apart from the boat. By sailing in the boat, we make the boat what it is. Assiduously study (such an example of this very moment (sholdimmol). At such time, there is nothing but the world of the boat. The heavens, the water, and the shore-all become the boat's time fue no jisetsw): they are not the same as the time that is not the boat. Hence, I make life what it is: life makes me what I am. In riding the boat, one's body and mind, and the self and the world are together the dynamic function of the boat (ime no kikan). The entire earth and the whole empty sky are in company with the boat's vigorous exertion. Such is the I that is life, the life that is 1.165
Third, a Dharma-position does not come and go, or pass, or flow as the commonsense view of time would assume. This is a radical rejection of the flow of time, or the stream of consciousness, or any other conceptions of time based on the idea of continuity and duration. That is, time is absolutely discrete and discontinuous. This characteristic was primary to Dogen's thought. His thesis, however, was not based on any quantitative or atomistic consideration of time, that is a theoretical concern, but rather on qualitative and practical reflections on his existential and religious experiences of the present. As he probed the "reason of total exertion" (gujin no ri), he could not help but come to the idea of the radical discontinuity of the present.
Though the expressions themselves of "abiding in the Dharma-position" and "the total exertion of a single thing" were by no means Dögen's own invention, the ideas themselves nevertheless bore the imprints of typical Dögen-like mystical realism, as epitomized in Dogen's statement the English translation of which hardly does justice to the spirit, cloquence and force of the original Japanese):