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Denying DivinityApophasis in the Patristic Christian and Soto Zen Buddhist Traditions$
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J. P. Williams

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198269991

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198269991.001.0001

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Dogen’s apophasis

Dogen’s apophasis

(p.127) 6 Dogen’s apophasis
Denying Divinity

J. P. Williams

Oxford University Press

Dogen's basic presentation of the Buddhist Way is entirely orthodox. He intends the practitioner to cease grasping and clinging to phenomena and to concepts, and sees the way to achieving this detachment as being through an understanding of impermanence and emptiness. Similarly, he shares the traditional concern to guard against a nihilistic understanding of impermanence and emptiness. In avoiding both these extremes, he points out the Buddhist Middle Way. In his writings, the major themes of ineffability, nondualism, and emptiness address these fundamental issues. Dogen was able to resolve the issue of original versus acquired enlightenment through the notion of actualizing Buddha-nature in this-moment, but also provides the practice ‘just sitting’, in which that actualization occurs. This chapter deals with the use of affirmative speech, the constant work of ‘going beyond Buddha’, the existential application of negation, and the stance of non-thinking. It examines Dogen's apophasis and his version of the familiar nondualism of Buddhism.

Keywords:   Dogen, Buddhism, apophasis, impermanence, emptiness, ineffability, nondualism, enlightenment, affirmative speech, negation

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