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Dōgen's Appropriation of Lotus Sutra Ground and Space

Taigen Dan Leighton
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
Vol. 32, No. 1 (2005), pp. 85-105
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30233778
Page Count: 21
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Dōgen's Appropriation of Lotus Sutra Ground and Space
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Abstract

The Lotus Sutra is prominent among the many sources quoted by Dōgen in his writings, highlighting the Mahōyōna context of his teachings and worldview. In this paper I focus on Dōgen's use of the pivotal story in Lotus Sutra chapters fifteen and sixteen-the myriad bodhisattvas emerging from underground and the inconceivable life-span of the Buddha-to express his own worldview of earth, space, and time as enlightening forces. The shift in perspective expressed in this sutra story reflects a fundamental shift in East Asian Buddhist soteriology. A close reading of Dōgen's references to this story discloses how his hermeneutical play with its imagery of ground, space, and emptiness expresses immediate awakening, beyond stages of cultivation; he cites the inconceivable life-span story as an encouragement to present practice. The contrast between D6gen's response to the enduring Śākyamuni and that of his older contemporary Myōe is revealing.

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