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Article

Effortless Expressions: Dōgen’s Non-Thinking about ‘Words and Letters’

Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Academic Editor: George Wrisley
Religions 2021, 12(2), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12020111
Received: 14 December 2020 / Revised: 3 February 2021 / Accepted: 3 February 2021 / Published: 9 February 2021
What is the relationship between Zen experience and language? Is Zen awakening/enlightenment ineffable? In this article, I will address this general question by providing a panoramic treatment of Dōgen’s (道元) philosophy of language which Hee-Jin Kim characterizes as “realizational”. Building on the research of Kim, Victor Sōgen Hori and Dale S. Wright, I maintain that the idea of ineffable experiences in Dōgen’s Zen is embedded within language, not transcendent from it. My focus begins by reviewing Dōgen’s critical reflections on the idea of ineffability in Zen, and then proceeds to make sense of such in the context of zazen, and the practice of non-thinking, hi-shiryo (非思量). Based upon this inquiry, I then move into an examination of how Dōgen’s “realizational” philosophy of language, in the context of non-thinking, conditions a ‘practice of words and letters’ that is effortless, vis-à-vis non-action, wu-wei (無為). From there we shall then inquire into Dōgen’s use of kōan for developing his “realizational” perspective. In doing such, I shall orient my treatment around Hori’s research into kōan (公案), specifically the logic of nonduality. This inquiry shall in turn provide a clearing for highlighting the non-anthropocentric perspectivism that is salient to Dōgen’s “realizational” philosophy of language. Finally, I bring closure to this inquiry by showing how Dōgen’s “realizational” perspective of language sets the stage for expressing a range of value judgments and normative prescriptions, both on and off the cushion, despite his commitment to the philosophy of emptiness, śūnyatā, whereby all things, including good and evil, lack an inherent self essence, svabhāva. View Full-Text
Keywords: zazen; Dōgen; Kōan; non-thinking; language; nonduality; ineffbility; non-anthropocentrism; normative zazen; Dōgen; Kōan; non-thinking; language; nonduality; ineffbility; non-anthropocentrism; normative
MDPI and ACS Style

Markowski, J. Effortless Expressions: Dōgen’s Non-Thinking about ‘Words and Letters’. Religions 2021, 12, 111. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12020111

AMA Style

Markowski J. Effortless Expressions: Dōgen’s Non-Thinking about ‘Words and Letters’. Religions. 2021; 12(2):111. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12020111

Chicago/Turabian Style

Markowski, Joe. 2021. "Effortless Expressions: Dōgen’s Non-Thinking about ‘Words and Letters’" Religions 12, no. 2: 111. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12020111

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