Ryofu Pussel (Kyoto Bunkyo Junior College): Dogen Zenji’s Being-Time

Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253) is widely regarded not only as one of the most important Zen-Masters, having established the Sōtō-Zen-school in Japan, but also as one of Japan’s greatest philosophers. In particular, his monumental work Shōbōgenzō (“Treasure Chamber of the Eye of True Dharma”) consisting of ninety-five fascicles and composed between his ages thirty-two and fifty-four, is generally considered as one of the most outstanding works of religious and philosophical literature in Japan. This talk analyses fascicle 20, Uji, written in November 1240 in the Kōshōhōrin-ji-monastery. It introduces the key element of his philosophy, which is directly related to this workshop. As it is one of the most difficult to comprehend parts of this work, the contents will be analysed mindfully in a way that Japanese language proficiency is not necessary. The key element can already found in the title: Uji, which can be translated as Being-time in English (or Sein-Zeit in German). This is, of course, linguistically incorrect: time must, by its nature, for example be devided into past-, present-, and future tense. So, it would have to be ‘was’, ‘is’, ‘will be’. Or not? Dōgen argues that there are no such things, and that all existence is manifested in this very moment. This moment, then, is never changing, although the next moment is created differently (the concept of constant change as inherent nature of all things in existence is hereby not denied). However, he argues that time is always momentary, and that this moment is the only moment there ever is – in which existence and time come together. Furthermore, action can only be realised in time, and time only in action. In other words, Dōgen argues that there is a flow of time and action only on a superficial level; in true reality, time and all processes and events (the occurrents) are only stably manifested in this very moment only (the continuant) – therefore, he concludes, all must be being-time. Does this add to the theory of persistence? We shall see…

 

This lecture will be given on Thu, 1 July 2021, 09:10 (UK time) as part of the workshop Change and Changemakers in Ancient Philosophy. The workshop is a collaborative initiative of the Change and Changemakers Network (Siegen) together with the Mereology of Potentiality Project (Oxford).