A Day in the Life

Steven Heine

in Dōgen

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199754465
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932801 | DOI:
A Day in the Life

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This chapter points out that “Gyōji” is one of several Shōbōgenzō fascicles that is unique in varying ways. The majority of fascicles focus on Mahayana Buddhist doctrines explicated in terms of kōan literature, which Dōgen often radically reinterprets. The “Gyōji” fascicle contains some of this element, especially in the opening passage, which is a philosophical discourse on the meaning of zazen practice related to time, metaphysics, and ethics. For the most part, however, the fascicle provides a hagiographical discussion of thirty-five patriarchs in the Zen lineage, from Indian Buddhist figures Sakyamuni, Mahakasyapa, and Parsva to first Chinese patriarch Bodhidharma and numerous Chan leaders, culminating in Caodong master Furong Daokai and, of course, Dōgen's mentor Rujing, who receives special attention. “Gyōji” expresses a broad vision of how strict adherence to discipline underlies and is the necessary condition for meditation. The forms of discipline include the austerities of the twelve dhuta practices or a commitment to spiritual independence and integrity while living in thatched huts on remote peaks to abandon worldly temptations, as frequently evidenced through the supranormal power to overcome indigenous spirits.

Keywords: Buddhist texts; Dōgen; Gyōji fascicle; meditation; discipline

Chapter.  6268 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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