Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra

Hardcover | May 25, 2007

byTaigen Dan Leighton

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As a religion concerned with universal liberation, Zen grew out of a Buddhist worldview very different from the currently prevalent scientific materialism. Indeed, says Taigen Dan Leighton, Zen cannot be fully understood outside of a worldview that sees reality itself as a vital, dynamic agentof awareness and healing. In this book, Leighton explicates that worldview through the writings of the Zen master Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), considered the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen tradition, which currently enjoys increasing popularity in the West. The Lotus Sutra, arguably the most important Buddhist scripture in East Asia, contains a famous story about bodhisattvas (enlightening beings) who emerge from under the earth to preserve and expound the Lotus teaching in the distant future. The story reveals that the Buddha only appears to passaway, but actually has been practicing, and will continue to do so, over an inconceivably long life span. Leighton traces commentaries on the Lotus Sutra from a range of key East Asian Buddhist thinkers, including Daosheng, Zhiyi, Zhanran, Saigyo, Myoe, Nichiren, Hakuin, and Ryokan. But his main focus is Eihei Dogen, the 13th century Japanese Soto Zen founder who imported Zen from China, and whoseprofuse, provocative, and poetic writings are important to the modern expansion of Buddhism to the West. Dogen's use of this sutra expresses the critical role of Mahayana vision and imagination as the context of Zen teaching, and his interpretations of this story furthermore reveal his dynamic worldview of the earth, space, and time themselves as vital agents of spiritual awakening. Leighton argues that Dogen uses the images and metaphors in this story to express his own religious worldview, in which earth, space, and time are lively agents in the bodhisattva project. Broader awareness of Dogen's worldview and its implications, says Leighton, can illuminate the possibilitiesfor contemporary approaches to primary Mahayana concepts and practices.

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As a religion concerned with universal liberation, Zen grew out of a Buddhist worldview very different from the currently prevalent scientific materialism. Indeed, says Taigen Dan Leighton, Zen cannot be fully understood outside of a worldview that sees reality itself as a vital, dynamic agentof awareness and healing. In this book, Lei...

Taigen Dan Leighton is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Theological Union, Institute of Buddhist Studies and author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression. He is primary co-translator and editor for several Zen translations, including Dogen's Extensive Record and Cultivating the Empty ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 6.1 × 9.29 × 0.98 inPublished:May 25, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019532093X

ISBN - 13:9780195320930

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Table of Contents

I. The Pivotal Lotus Story and Dogen's WorldviewII. Hermeneutics and Discourse Styles in Study of the Lotus Sutra and DogenIII. Selected East Asian Interpretations of the StoryIV. Dogen's Interpretations of this Lotus Sutra StoryV. Dogen's View of Earth, Space, and Time Seen in Mahayana ContextAfterword: Implications of Dogen's Mahayana WorldviewEndnotesBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"A premier translator of two of Dogen's major works, Eihei Shingi and Eihei Koroku, has now turned his sights to an analysis of Dogen in East Asian theoretical contexts with illuminating results. This very thoughtful, informative, and highly original study makes a significant contribution toboth Dogen and Lotus Sutra studies by showing how Dogen's Zen is rooted in Mahayana worldview, and also how the Lotus Sutra was a key resource for Japanese Zen. Leighton does an outstanding job of juxtaposing the seminal Lotus Sutra with the main writings of Dogen, along with other prominentthinkers in Zen and Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. He also sheds important light on contemporary applications and interpretations of Buddhist theory." -- Steven Heine, author of Dogen and the Koan Tradition