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What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?$
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Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190622596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190622596.001.0001

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Enlightenment and the Persistence of Human Fallibility

Enlightenment and the Persistence of Human Fallibility

(p.106) 6 Enlightenment and the Persistence of Human Fallibility
What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?

Dale S. Wright

Oxford University Press

“Enlightenment and the Persistence of Human Fallibility” addresses the expectation that the enlightening insights of Zen masters render them invulnerable to moral and ethical errors and that therefore some form of infallibility has been achieved in their lives. The chapter traces this expectation to traditional Zen literature where the great Zen masters demonstrate supernatural powers and transhuman capacities. Realizing that these narrative descriptions of the great Zen masters were animated by the ongoing development of Zen mythology and the devotion of Zen chroniclers, the chapter considers a highly regarded twentieth-century Zen master, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, whose life can be examined in full detail without the traditional projections of divine powers. Although Maezumi was widely regarded as a profoundly enlightened Zen master, his life story was marred by tragic errors of judgment. The chapter concludes that this convergence helps us humanize and deepened our understanding of what Zen enlightenment is.

Keywords:   Taizan Maezumi, Zen Center of Los Angeles, Zen literature, narrative descriptions, transhuman

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