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Hóngzhi Zhēngjué's 宏智正覺 silent illumination teachings as the roots of Dōgen Zen 道元禅
Aguilar, Carol Lorraine
Wawrytko, Sandra A.
Barbone, StevenTimalsina, Sthaneshwar
n this thesis, I argue that the silent illumination teachings of Chan 禅Master Hóngzhi Zhēngjué(1091-1157)are at the root of Dōgen Zen and shikantaza 坐禅(“just sitting”) meditation. My evidence for this rests on Dōgen’s (1200-1253) assertion that he had learned correct practice from his teacher, Rújìng 天童如淨(1162-1228), who had, through his own teacher, learned it from Hóngzhi; that both Hóngzhi and Dōgen drew heavily from the same classical sources; and that both silent illumination and shikantaza, though not equivalent, have many of the same characteristics. Equally important for the purposes of this paper is a defense of these meditation methodologies as skillful means (upāyicpractices) for contemporary times.In Chapter 2, I introduce Hóngzhi by way of his three enlightenment experiences recorded in encounter dialogues. Detailed commentary is given on each awakening experience to illustrate the maturing of Hóngzhi’s understanding as well as the use of encounter dialogues as a pedagogic device. Chapter 3 includes commentaries on selections from Hóngzhi’s Practice Instructions and Verses, chosen as representative of his silent illumination teachings. Chapter 4 is a summary of the salient features of Dōgen style Zen focusing on the character of shikantaza. Chapter 5 compares the two practices of silent illumination and shikantaza showing that they are largely similar with few differences. Chapter 6 begins with a discussion of Buddhist hermeneutics and explores the philosophy of Hóngzhi and Dōgen in the areas of freedom, knowledge and ethics. In the concluding chapter, I argue for a commitment to the burgeoning field of Hóngzhi Studies and for the advocacy of silent illumination and shikantazapractices based on the upāyicnature of Hóngzhi’s and Dōgen’s philosophical contributions, pedagogies, and meditation methodologies.
Arts and Letters
Master Of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2017
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