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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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Conclusion: the apophatic tradition

Conclusion: the apophatic tradition

(p.180) 7 Conclusion: the apophatic tradition
Denying Divinity

J. P. Williams

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter collates the similarities and differences between the Zen Buddhist and patristic Christian traditions of apophasis. It is now generally agreed that one cannot simply take the fact that two apophatic traditions make statements that may be translated one into another as evidence that their statements carry the same meaning, nor the fact that two traditions recommend the same courses of action in analogous circumstances as proof that their participants ‘do the same things’. Buddhist and Christian forms of monasticism, asceticism, spiritual master/disciple relations, and so on cannot simply be identified since the character of each is profoundly affected by very dissimilar historical and cultural circumstances, and each plays a different role in relation to other elements of practice and to the community of non-practitioners. With the application of nondualism to ontological questions, we approach one of the thorniest issues in any attempt to establish a common ground between Buddhism and Christianity. This book has considered the views of Dogen, Maximus the Confessor, and Dionysius on apophasis.

Keywords:   Buddhism, apophasis, Christianity, apophatic traditions, Dogen, Maximus the Confessor, Dionysius, nondualism

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