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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter first discusses the intellectual historical context of Chan/Zen Buddhist debates regarding appropriate uses of language that took place in twelfth- and thirteenth-century China and Japan and helped shape the formation of Dōgen’s philosophy of language as textual hermeneutics. In particular, this examination demonstrates that Dōgen was greatly influenced by the expansive manner of viewing language in the famous kōan collection, the Biyanlu by Yuanwu, as a matter of unraveling entangling vines (kattō) of discourse while rejecting the minimalist view of using catchphrases (watō) endorsed by Yuanwu’s contentious but equally prominent disciple Dahui, who is said to have burned the xylographs of his mentor’s collection. The chapter next focuses on a case study of Dōgen’s innovative way of applying creative hermeneutics in dealing with the so-called Mu Kōan, in which master Zhaozhou responds to a query about whether a dog possesses the universal spirituality of Buddha-nature.

Keywords: Busshō, Dōgen, Eihei kōroku, Kattō, Kim Hee-Jin, Mu Kōan, Shōbōgenzō, textual hermeneutics, Watō, Zhaozhou

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