The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
By Loy, David

Philosophy East and West
Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)
pp. 127-146

Copyright 1988 by the University of Hawaii Press
Hawaii, USA



p. 127 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

If anyone imagines he will get more by inner thoughts and sweet yearnings and a special grace of God than he could get beside the fire or with his flocks or in the stable, he is doing no more than trying to take God and wrap His head in a cloak and shove Him under the bench. For whoever seeks God in some special Way, will gain the Way and lose God who is hidden in the Way. But whoever seeks God without any special Way, finds Him as He really is... and He is life itself.

When we want something, normally we know well enough what needs to be done to get it. But what if the object I desire is something that can never become an object, because it is prior to the subject-object dichotomy? What if it can never be an effect, because it is always unconditioned? What means will enable me to attain an end that is impossible to grasp? I find myself in a dilemma. If I make no effort to do anything, it seems that the result will also be nothing, and there will be no progress towards the desired goal. But to the extent that I exert myself to attain it, I do not, for in this case all effort is self-defeating. This is the paradox of spiritual practice, for Ātman, Brahman, nirvāṇa, Buddhanature, and so forth are all unobjectifiable (because nondual), unoriginated (that is, beyond causal and temporal relations), and hence unobtainable. How can we escape such a dilemma? [1]

    This article will approach that problem by considering the views of Śaṅkara and Dogen on the relation between practice (samādhi, yoga, zazen, and so forth) and enlightenment (mokṣa, nirvāṇa, satori and so forth). Śaṅkara and Dogen are obvious choices because they are profound and articulate spokesmen for two of the most important nondualistic traditions, the Advaita Vedānta of India and Ch'an/Zen Buddhism. Yet it is odd to juxtapose them, because at first glance their views about this relation seem to be diametrically opposed. Later Advaita came to incorporate yogic practices which cultivate samādhi, but Śaṅkara (788? - 820? A.D) himself does not recognize the necessity for any practice, except perhaps for those "of inferior intellect." In contrast, for Dogen (1200-1253 A.D), zazen is nothing less than enlightenment itself. (There is as great a divergence in style between the Brahmin logician, coolly refuting the arguments of Advaita's opponents, and the aristocratic Fujiwara poet, delighting in evocative imagery and terse paradox.) But in fact this is another instance [2] where one extreme turns out to be very similar to its opposite. That is because both Śaṅkara and Dogen are reacting against the same problem, the thought-constructed dualism between practice as means and enlightenment as goal. This dualism is problematical because it delusively objectifies the nondual Self/Buddhanature into something which, insofar as it is understood as separate from us, can never be attained. Both came to the same insight about tile self-defeating nature of this dilemma and the necessity to overcome any bifurcation between practice and enlightenment. The difference between



p. 128 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

Śaṅkara and Dogen is in how they overcome this bifurcation. The two main ways are to subsume the means into the ends, or vice versa. Śaṅkara, in denying the need for any practice, exemplifies the first. Dogen, arguing that zazen is enlightenment, prefers the second. More important than this difference, however, is that in both cases we end up with a nonduality between the two terms, which might be called "the path of no-path.'' But the emphasis is certainly different, as we shall see. For Śaṅkara, no-path is indeed the path, while for Dogen no-path is very much the path.

    It comes as no surprise that this mutual understanding about the paradox of practice reflects other agreements regarding the nature of nondual experience -- namely, that it "transcends" both temporal and causal relations. Śaṅkara's account of both is part of his māyā doctrine, according to which all spatiotemporal phenomena are delusively superimposed upon Brahman, the unconditioned substratum which persists unchanged through all experience. As a Buddhist, Dogen accepts no such substratum ("impermanence itself is the Buddhanature"), but in his metaphorical way he, too, negates temporal and causal relations: winter does not become spring, nor does firewood turn into ashes. [3] The implications of these critiques are devastating: all possible means are severed from any ends. In the thought-constructed everyday world we can (and to some extent must) ignore this, but the consequences for spiritual life are inescapable. It means that no religious practice -- be it ritual, prayer, yoga, zazen, or anything else -- can ever cause or lead to enlightenment, because enlightenment is now understood as precisely that experience which cannot be characterized by such temporal or causal relations. As Nāgārjuna put it, in perhaps his most important verse: "That which, taken as causal or dependent, is the process of being born and passing on, is, taken noncausally and beyond all dependence, declared to be nirvāṇa." [4] Śaṅkara and Gauḍapāda agree: "As long as there is belief in causality, there will be saṁsāra. When that belief disappears, saṁsāra becomes nonexistent." [5]

    It becomes clear that time, causality, and our usual means/ends dichotomy are not three distinct issues, but three different aspects of the same problem. Time requires that past cause future, and causality requires that cause precede effect. Both are necessary for goal-directed behavior, but perhaps the emphasis should be reversed: for is it not our desire-motivated ways of thinking and acting that require (and therefore thought-construct) an objective world of supposedly self-existing entities causally interacting "in" space and time? "...[T]ime is generated by the mind's restlessness, its stretching out to the future, its projects, and its negation of 'the present state.'" [6] This is not just an abstract, merely metaphysical issue. We see the relevance of philosophy in the fact that the basic dilemmas of our lives can be expressed in these categories -- equally well in terms of each. Our desire for immortality [7] clashes with our awareness of time passing and the inevitability of death. Our need for freedom and self-expression clashes with the awareness of being physically and socially deter-



p. 129 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

mined, More subtle are the effects of the means/ends dichotomy, but behavior which is strongly goal-oriented tends to distort our lives into a jerky pressure/ boredom syndrome: we anxiously pursue some goal until it is accomplished, whereupon we become bored and uncomfortable until we have manufactured another means/ends relationship to preoccupy us and cover over the meaning-lessness that threatens our lives.

    To resolve any of these problems fully is to resolve the others as well, but here our concern is primarily with the third. From this perspective, we can see that the usual attitude towards spiritual practices is therefore not a solution to the problem, but simply another version of the problem itself. Any method or technique understood to lead to an enlightenment experience maintains the very present -> future, cause -> effect dualism that it strives to escape. Projecting such a thought-constructed goal into the future sacrifices the present at its altar and thus loses the now, which is the only possible locus of liberation. The crucial insight for both Śaṅkara and Dogen is that there is absolutely nothing to attain, which is not to deny that that is something to be realized clearly. The difference between attainment and such realization is that only now can I realize I am that which I seek. Since it is always now, the possibility is always there, but that possibility becomes realized only when causal, time-bound, goal-directed ways of thinking and acting evaporate, to expose what I have always been: a formless, qualityless mind which is immutable because it is "nothing," which is free because it is not going anywhere, and which does not need to go anywhere because it does not lack anything.

    Śaṅkara's attitude towards practice will be discussed first, then Dogen's. Viewed within their respective contexts, the congruence between their views becomes evident. We shall also see the point at which they diverge, which is correlated to the metaphysical differences between Advaita and Mahāyāna. The final section will attempt to resolve some of these differences about the nature of "formless mind."



There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.
Gauḍapāda [8]


For Śaṅkara, liberation (mokṣa) is realizing the true nature of the Self (Ātman), which is identical with the ground of the universe (Brahman). The distinctive feature of Śaṅkara's Advaita is the way it understands the relationship between this spiritual ground and the concrete phenomenal world we live in -- or understand ourselves to live in. The Upaniṣads present various, and not always compatible analogies to explain how our spatiotemporal universe originated, but Śaṅkara resolves the issue in one stroke by denying that there ever was a creation. There is only Ātman/Brahman, which is and always has been unconditioned, unoriginated, all-pervasive, devoid of any modifications,



p. 130 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

self-effulgent, and ever-content. Anything which seems to be different from this -- which includes all temporal and causal relationships -- is māyā, and such experience is avidyā, delusion, because it involves ignorance of Brahman.

    As a "preemptive strike" this is a brilliant solution to the problem of creation, but it creates its own problems, notably the difficulty of accounting for the nature of māyā, which is left unexplained in a never-never land neither inside (no delusion in Brahman!) nor outside (nothing outside!) the Absolute. But it determines what the nature of liberation must be for Śaṅkara: since there is only Ātman/Brahman, nothing needs to be attained or done. Śaṅkara devotes much effort to refuting the Mīmāṁsā view that the purport of the Vedas is to inculcate dharma, defined in this instance as "that which, being desirable, is indicated by Vedic injunction." [9] On the contrary, says Śaṅkara, no action is necessary to realize Brahman, and no action can be enjoined on one who has realized Brahman, for that realization puts an end to all activity by revealing the nondual true Self as that which never acts. At best, Vedic rituals can only lead to a better realm of saṁsāra, but never to salvation. Śaṅkara denies that such statements as "the Self alone is to be meditated upon" (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I.iv.7) are genuine injunctions, because "except the knowledge that arises from that dictum... there is nothing to be done, either mentally or outwardly." [10]

    Actions can produce effects in one of four ways: something is produced, acquired, modified, or purified; none of these can apply to Brahman, which has no origin, cannot be attained, is immutable, and transcends any possible defect. "Even if Brahman were different from oneself, there can be no acquisition of Brahman, since being all-pervasive like space, It remains ever attained by everybody." [11] Like the sixth Ch'an patriarch Hui-neng, Śaṅkara does not accept even the metaphor of the Self as a mirror whose inherent brilliance needs to be cleaned by rubbing, "for no action can take place without bringing about some change in its locus," and that would make the Self subject to impermanence. [12] A better analogy is found in part three of Gauḍapāda's commentary on the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad: liberation is like what happens to the space inside a pot when it is opened or broken -- nothing happens, for the space inside was never separate from the space outside. Śaṅkara uses another well-known analogy to explain his concept of adhyāsa, the "superimposition'' of māyā upon Brahman: our delusion is like seeing a rope in the grass as a snake, and liberation is simply realizing that it is a rope. [13] Our bondage consists of such delusions, with which we "bind ourselves without a rope," and eliminating them is what reveals the awareness of Brahman, or (less dualistically) Brahman awareness, which has no degrees, does not come from any other place, and (unlike the dirty mirror) has never been obscured, although It has been unnoticed in our preoccupation with apparently objective phenomena. For such liberation it is not necessary to get rid of the body, for the Self has always been bodiless; "the idea of embodiedness is a result of false



p. 131 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

nescience." [14] This explains jīvanmukti, how complete liberation is possible even before physical death: because there is no real embodiedment to escape, just the delusion of embodiedness.

    Nevertheless, most of us do not know this unattainable Brahman, but instead suffer due to many delusions. How can we eliminate them and realize the ever-present Self? This brings us back to the question of practice. According to Radhakrishnan, "Śaṅkara accepts the principle of the yoga practice, which has for its chief end samādhi,...which consists in withdrawing the senses from everything external and concentrating them on one's own nature." These and the various outer limbs of yoga "bring about the rise of true knowledge." [15] This is accurate as an account of Gauḍapāda, and in Śaṅkara's voluminous corpus there are a few passages which can be used to support such a view. But Advaitic assimilation of such practices occurred commonly after Śaṅkara, for the main tendency of his thought is to resist the necessity of any practice or means for the realization of Brahman. He does not deny that they can sometimes be of limited value, as in his comment on Gauḍapāda's approval of yogic practice -- "for those of inferior intellect." Meditative repetition may be helpful because "people do not always understand the first time." [16] Karmic factors may be stronger than the operation of knowledge and interfere with it; then, he says, "there is need to regulate the train of remembrance of the knowledge of the Self by having recourse to means such as renunciation and dispassion; but it is not something that is to be enjoined, being a possible alternative." [17]

    It is clear that the limited value of such practices lies in their tendency to re-collect the mind from its preoccupation with various sense and thought objects, to help it focus itself. But liberation is that unconditioned and unconditionable moment when the mind becomes aware of itself [18] as formless, qualityless, nongraspable consciousness, which is what it has always been. At that instant, it is not the case that bonds are broken, but that one realizes there never were any bonds to be broken. Such liberation can be eternal only because it never had a beginning. [19] This implies -- the logic is inescapable -- that from the liberated point of view there is not even such a thing as liberation. As Gauḍapāda concludes his commentary on the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad, "All dharmas [here, selves] are ever free from bondage and pure by nature. They are ever illumined and liberated from the very beginning." [20] Śaṅkara agrees:

    ... Brahman cannot logically be a goal to be attained. The supreme Brahman can never become a goal which pervades everything, which is inside everything, which is the Self of all.... For one cannot reach where one already is. The well-known fact in the world is that one thing is reached by something else. [21]

    Recently it has been argued that according to Śaṅkara the authoritative and valid means for knowledge of Brahman is śruti, the Vedic scriptures. Contrary to usual belief, the affirmations of śruti do not need to be confirmed by a special and direct experience (anubhava), for such statement are not provisional but



p. 132 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

sufficient in themselves. Śruti is necessary because it provides us with knowledge of something which is imperceptible and unapproachable through any other means. Śruti can be adequate because the problem is one of incomplete and erroneous knowledge of an ever-available, self-manifesting Ātman. The task of śruti, then, is not the production or even the revelation of an unknown entity, but the imparting of correct knowledge about a Self which is always experienced but misunderstood. [22]

    Certainly there are many statements by Śaṅkara that śruti is the authoritative source of Brahman-knowledge. For example, Brahmasūtrabhāṣya I.i.3. claims that Brahman is the source of the scriptures, and then in the next verse Śaṅkara reverses this to claim that "the scriptures are the valid means of knowing the real nature of this Brahman." [23] But we may still wonder how this means of knowledge functions. In his commentary on Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV.iv.20, Śaṅkara denies that the Self is known by any other means than śruti, but he explains that there is no need to establish an identity with the Self, for that identity is already the case. Hence, he says, the point of the scriptures is not to enjoin identity, but to stop false identification with things that are not the Self. Scripture seems necessary as a "pointer" to imperceptible and formless Brahman because nothing in the sensory world is able to point to it. But śruti has its limitations. If it contradicts reason (for example, "fire is cold"), then reason must be our guide, for it is closer to our experience, he says. [24] And of course there is the danger of identifying with some concept of Brahman -- of grasping the pointing finger and missing the moon.

    What is decisive is that, according to Śaṅkara, the veil of ignorance is destroyed by the buddhi (what we usually understand by "mind'') in a "mental modification"' (brahmātmakāravṛtti) which realizes the identity between self and Brahman and then disappears by "consuming" itself. "It is to the buddhi and not to the Self, which is immutable, that the knowledge 'I am Brahman' belongs." [25] We shall return later to consider one of the implications of this statement: that not only no action but also no knowledge can properly be said to belong to Brahman. But what we notice now is that realization therefore cannot be understood as a matter of supplementing incomplete and erroneous knowledge of..., of imparting correct knowledge about..., or even believing in..., for all such thought processes are necessarily indirect. That vidyā knowledge is due to the cessation of a-vidyā nescience means that the usual relationship must be reversed: ignorance here is not a lack to be filled up with something, but an identification with objectifications, including all concepts, even scriptural ones, which needs to be ended, for that preoccupation with thought objects is precisely what constitutes ignorance of the unobjectifiable Self.

    Śaṅkara's views about causality allow us to make the same point in another way. We use the category of cause-and-effect to try to explain the relationships among various phenomena, but the true cause of all effects is Brahman, their



p. 133 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

immutable substratum. The notion that one thing or event can cause another is delusive, for all supposedly objective phenomena are due to the superimposition of names-and-forms upon Brahman, the nameless, formless substance-ground. The Self, which may be considered the cause of everything, can never be the effect of anything, and therefore no pramāṇa (mode of knowledge) can ever present It to me. This implies that there can be no means -- not even śruti -- to realize Brahman, for any means would constitute a cause and make Brahman into an effect. The realization of Brahman, therefore, could be dependent only upon itself, and that is precisely what Śaṅkara claims: since "the validity of the knowledge of an existing thing is determined by the thing itself ... the knowledge of Brahman must also be determined by the thing itself, since it is concerned with an existing entity." [26]

    To summarize, Śaṅkara's view of liberation is determined by the fact that for him there is always and everywhere only the Self/Brahman, and therefore there can be nothing to attain, because there is no bondage. Nothing needs to be done, since all goal-directed action is dualistic by definition. No spiritual practices are necessary or even recommended except for those "of inferior intellect'' whose strong karmic tendencies interfere with the mind's ability to focus. To "know" the Self is not a matter of gaining some particular knowledge about something, but simply eliminating delusive identifications with sense objects and thought forms. The point of Śaṅkara's "superimposition" doctrine is that mental superimpositions objectify not only the spatiotemporal world but also and foremost myself as a thing "in" that world and therefore limited by it. Ending these identifications is what śruti enjoins us to do. Their cessation does not result in my being able to identify and grasp my true Self; rather, when my mind is no longer fascinated by phenomena and desists from all attempts to grasp itself reflexively, the lack of a "pull" or "thrust" outside itself allows the awareness to arise of "my" consciousness as "something" formless, attributeless, and unoriginated. [27]

    But, we may wonder, what could distinguish such an unreflected, ungraspable something from a nothing? -- not a nihilistic lack, of course, but a śūnyatā pregnant with infinite possibility. And that brings us to Mahāyāna and Dogen.



There is no ignorance, no end of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to, there is no decay and death, no end of decay and death; There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end of suffering, and no path; there is no wisdom, no attainment and no non-attainment.
Heart Sūtra

Spiritual teachers, like everyone else, can only extrapolate from their own experience. Little is known about the life of Śaṅkara, but the extraordinary productivity of his brief life (believed to have been only 32 years) suggests that his own experience might be comparable to other precocious sages like the



p. 134 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

sixth Ch'an patriarch or the modern Advaitin Ramana Maharshi. Liberation for them seems to have occurred almost unbeckoned; perhaps it was the comparative spontaneity of Śaṅkara's enlightenment that led to his impatience with all the self-defeating means to which we become attached. "Come on," we can hear him saying, "don't get caught up in meditative techniques. Just stop identifying with all your projections and realize!"

    Dogen seems equally austere, but nevertheless closer to us, for he, like Śākyamuni Buddha, sought many years before he forgot himself and his bodymind "fell away." Consequently, we find no disparagement of practice in Dogen. On the contrary, zazen (he emphasizes that other techniques such as nembutsu, sūtra reading, penances and rituals, and so forth are unnecessary) is elevated to the status of enlightenment itself -- without, however, denying the importance of his own experience under Ju-ching in China. The heart of his teaching is this shusho itto (or ichinyo), "the oneness of practice and enlightenment." Whereas Śaṅkara resolves the delusive dualism between means and ends by denying the need for any practice, Dogen resolves the same dualism by incorporating enlightenment into practice. In both cases, subsuming one term of the means -> ends dualism into the other avoids the self-defeating consequence of any duality between them, because without a means we cannot objectify the end (as Śaṅkara emphasizes), and if there is no end then the means becomes more than a means (as Dogen emphasizes).

    Śaṅkara allows us no comfortable refuge in any technique (or, for that matter, guru) where we can feel secure, having delegated to it our responsibility to realize and having thought-projected the wonderful, resolving-all-problems event of enlightenment sometime into the future. For Śaṅkara, practice becomes sharply concentrated into the simple need to realize, which can happen only now, which does happen when we cease objectifying liberation into an effect that will occur. Since there is only the Self, liberation is actually not an event at all, but eternal, and that eternity is realized at the cessation of striving for any event, whereupon the Self can naturally come to rest in awareness of its own nature.

    Dogen reaches a similar position by a different route. It is not that he denies enlightenment, but that he transforms zazen so that it is no longer approached as a means, and therefore is no longer self-stultifying. The type of zazen he recommends is shikan-taza, "just sitting," which is characterized by awareness that is without any striving for a goal. The mind dwells serenely in its formlessness, and since it is precisely this formless, goalless character of the mind that needs to be realized, such practice is not to be distinguished from its goal.

    Although arising within Chinese Mahāyāna philosophy, the problem that came to obsess the young Dogen evokes Śaṅkara's Advaita as much as any Buddhist school: If, according to both exoteric and esoteric schools of Buddhism, man is already endowed with the Buddhanature by birth, why do we need to seek enlightenment and engage in spiritual practices? If we are all originally



p. 135 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

enlightened (hongaku), why do we need to acquire enlightenment (shikaku)? This question eventually took him to China, where he came to do zazen at T'ien-t'ung monastery under Ju-ching. One morning during zazen, Ju-ching exclaimed to a sleeping monk: "In zazen it is necessary to cast off the body and mind!" Dogen said that at that moment his body and mind indeed fell away, and his search was ended. Yet, significantly, thereafter he did not stop doing zazen, but like Ju-ching he continued zazen for the rest of his life.

    Dogen gives the answer to his question in Bendowa, his first work in Japanese and one of his most important writings. Replying to the question of why someone who has realized the Buddha's Dharma should need to do zazen, he says:

In the Buddha Dharma, practice and realization are identical. Because one's present practice is practice in realization, one's initial negotiation of the Way in itself is the whole of original realization. Thus, even while one is directed to practice, he is told not to anticipate realization apart from practice, because practice points directly to original realization. As it is already realization in practice, realization is endless; as it is practice in realization, practice is beginningless. Thus Śākyamuni and Mahākāśyapa were both taken and used by practice within realization. Bodhidharma and patriarch Hui-neng likewise were drawn in and turned by practice in realization. The way of maintaining the Buddha Dharma has always been like this. [28]

    The first thing to notice about this seminal passage is a profound agreement with Śaṅkara: the need for practice is not due to any lack or defect in "original enlightenment," for there is absolutely nothing that needs to be attained, produced, or uncovered. In the Shobogenzo, Dogen tirelessly emphasizes this point, "As for the Buddha Way, when one first arouses the thought (of enlightenment, which initiates one's practice), it is enlightenment, when one first achieves perfect enlightenment, it is enlightenment. First, last, and in between are all enlightenment" (Sesshin Sessho). If the first thought of enlightenment is understood as a seed, then full enlightenment is the fruit, but Dogen denies this relationship: "There is no time of the past or present when the truth is not realized. Therefore, although the unenlightened standpoint may be presupposed, root, stem, branch, and leaf must simultaneously realize Buddhanature as the very same whole being" (Bussho, "Buddhanature"). In the same fascicle, Dogen reinterprets the Nirvāna Sūtra. It is not that all sentient beings have the Buddhanature, for that is still dualistic: they and even nonsentient beings are the Buddhanature. It is not that enlightenment will occur "when the time comes," for "there is no time right now that is not a time that has come.'' Just as there is nothing but Ātman/Brahman for Śaṅkara, there is nothing but Buddhanature for Dogen. "My" Buddhanature is not something hidden that awaits polishing, nor a potential which will manifest itself sometime in the future: "There is no Buddhanature that is not Buddhanature fully manifested here and now." [29]

    And, just as with Śaṅkara, such a view implies/is implied by Dogen's under-



p. 136 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

standing of time and causality. Time is not something that passes, for each nondual "being-time" (uji) is without exception the whole of time. Thus spring does not become summer; there is the being-time of spring and the being-time of summer, each complete in itself. Likewise, firewood does not turn into ashes; fire is not a cause and ashes the effect. "Cause is not before and effect is not after; the cause is perfect and the effect is perfect" (Shoaku-Makusa). [30] Just as each is whole, lacking nothing, so practice should not be understood as a means to anything else.

    Up to this point, then, we see a remarkable similarity between Dogen and Śaṅkara regarding the nondual, all-encompassing nature of the Self/Buddhanature and the delusiveness of causal and temporal relations. They agree that we are all "originally enlightened" (Dogen), that liberation is eternal (Saṅkara). But of course this does not resolve Dogen's puzzle about the relation between original and acquired enlightenment. On the contrary, it merely makes the problem more acute, and we can almost hear Śaṅkara asking the question: "Yes, of course; but then why do we need to practice? If Buddhanature is not something that needs to be acquired, transformed, produced, or purified, because it is already completely manifested, then what is the point of zazen?"

    Immediately after discussing the oneness of practice and enlightenment in the Bendowa (quoted above), Dogen considers what he calls the "Senika heresy,'' according to which the way to escape birth-and-death is to realize that your mind-nature is eternal and immutable, for the body is only its temporary form. "Those who fail to grasp this are ever caught up in birth and death. Therefore, one must simply know without delay the significance of the mindnature's immutability. What can come of spending one's whole life sitting quietly, doing nothing?" [31]

    Although presented as the view of a heretical Buddhist school, a better description of Śaṅkara's Advaita would be hard to find. Dogen criticizes it in the strongest possible terms. The gist of his reply is that "the Buddha Dharma from the first preaches that body and mind are not two, that substance and form are not two." Therefore, we should not speak of the body perishing and the mind abiding. This does not diminish or limit the Buddha-nature-without-a-second, for Dogen concludes by emphasizing that the Buddhist teaching is that "all dharmas-the myriad forms dense and close of the universe -- are simply this one Mind, including all, excluding none." [32]

    The difference from Śaṅkara becomes clearer if we remember Dogen's own enlightenment experience. When Ju-ching said "body and mind must fall away" (Japanese, shinjin-datsuraku), Dogen's did. This may appear contrary to the Advaitic claim that there is no need to escape the body, since the Self has never really been embodied. But this was not a complete falling-away in the sense that Advaita criticizes as unnecessary, for that would mean physical death. In contrast, what Dogen experienced thereafter was not an immutable



p. 137 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

Self voided of any attributes, but "the fallen-away body and mind" (datsurakushinjin): body and mind now empty, but not further negated or devalued as avidyā. Many fascicles of the Shobogenzo emphasize that enlightenment is as much physical as mental, for with it the duality between them is overcome: "Your whole body is Mind in its totality" (Ikka-Myoju, "One Bright Jewell").

    This attitude towards the body shows the "other half" of his teaching, which is incompatible with Saṅkara. We find it embodied in those paradoxes wherein Dogen affirms both of two apparently contradictory aspects, juxtaposing nondual Buddhanature with the relative, dualistic aspect of things. For example, the passage quoted earlier about causation ("Cause is not before and effect is not after....") continues: "Though effect is occasioned by cause, they are not before and after, because the before and after are nondual in the Way." In other words -- there really is no other way around it, and it is the type of paradoxical expression Dogen loved -- there is no cause and effect, and yet there is. Each has its own "dharma position" and lacks nothing; but nonetheless there is the being-time of fire and only then the being-time of ashes. [33]

    Relating this to the issue of practice and enlightenment, we find many prominent passages in Dogen which emphasize the importance of attaining enlightenment, even though these seem to contradict what is said -- often in the same place -- about the unattainability of Buddhanature. The Bendowa was cited earlier to present Dogen's view that practice and realization are identical, but there he also distinguishes them: "The dharma is amply present in every person, but unless one practices, it is not manifested; unless there is realization, it is not attained." He goes on to quote a Ch'an patriarch: "It is not that there is no practice or realization, only that you should not defile them." In Bussho, just after emphasizing that everything is the Buddhanature, he continues: "The Buddhanature is not incorporated prior to attaining Buddhahood; it is incorporated upon the attainment of Buddhahood." Lest we miss the point, he immediately repeats: "The Buddhanature is always manifested simultaneously with the attainment of Buddhahood." [34] The Buddhanature may be as complete in the seed as in the fruit, but we should not confound the two. While the seed lacks nothing, it is only the fruit that realizes that the seed lacks nothing -- and yet that realization adds nothing. So there is the being-time of the initial thought of enlightenment, which is the complete self-manifestation of Buddhanature, lacking nothing; there is the being-time of practice, which completely manifests Buddhanature, lacking nothing; and only then is there the moment that body and mind drop away completely, which moment also completely manifests the Buddhanature, but no more and no less than the moment just "before" it. Each stage is zenki, "the total dynamic working" of Buddhanature, and as such is not dependent upon any other stage; nonetheless, to ignore all causal and temporal relationships is to replace one form of blindness with another.

    How are we to understand the relationship between these two aspects, or



p. 138 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

"truths"? They are only different "angles" on the same thing. Nirvāṇa is no more than the true nature of saṁsāra. The Shoji "Birth and Death" fascicle expresses this paradox most succinctly: "Just understand that birth and death is itself nirvāṇa, and you will neither hate the one as being birth and death, nor cherish the other as being nirvāṇa. Only then can you be free from birth and death." [35] If there is no self-existing being who is born, then there is only the act of birth; but if there is only the act of birth, then there is no real birth. Instead, that activity itself becomes the complete, lacking-nothing manifestation of Buddhanature. This crystallizes the difference between Advaita and Mahāyāna: for Vedānta, birth and all other phenomena are negated as delusive māyā, but for Dogen they are affirmed after being qualified as "empty" (śūnya). After we discard the delusive aspect, which is the notion that something is born, the pure act of birth remains as "the present manifestation of the total dynamic working" of Buddhanature.

    But what does this difference between Śaṅkara and Dogen imply for the relation between practice and enlightenment? We find our answer in the story with which Dogen concludes the Genjo-koan, the first fascicle of the Shobogenzo and his most important single work:

As Zen master Pao-ch'e of Ma-ku shan was fanning himself, a monk came up and said: "The nature of the wind is constancy. There is no place it does not reach. Why do you still use a fan?" Pao-ch'e answered: "You only know the nature of the wind is constancy. You do not know yet the meaning of it reaching every place.'' The monk said: "What is the meaning of 'there is no place it does not reach'?" The master only fanned himself. The monk bowed deeply. [36]

The monk's question was Dogen's: If everyone already possesses the Buddhanature, why is there need for practice? Pao-ch'e's answer is to the point, but it is easy to misunderstand. It is not the case that "without the actual movement of the fan the wind's constancy is only a latent, empty reality," [37] for that amounts to another dualistic view according to which Buddhanature must be transformed from a state of latency to actuality. If Buddhanature is fully manifested here and now, we must overcome any notion of duality between wind and master and realize that the master's fanning himself is the wind's constancy, that his activity is itself the manifestation of the wind. What did the Bendowa passage say about Śākyamuni and Mahākāśyapa? They "both were taken and used by practice within realization"; Bodhidharma and Hui-neng "likewise were drawn in and turned by practice in realization." The passive verbs take on new significance in the light of Pao-ch'e's fanning.

    The heart of that Bendowa passage is the obscure sentence just before: "As it is always realization in practice, realization is endless, as it is practice in realization, practice is beginningless." This may now be understood as: "Since 'original realization' is already implied by and embodied in all our practice, practice is the way that realization actualizes and manifests itself endlessly, for our practice is endless. In the same way, since practice is already inherent in



p. 139 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

realization and 'original realization' has no beginning, so our practice too has no beginning." Thus practice is not a means to the attainment of enlightenment. But that does not mean it is dispensable, for practice is the natural way in which one's "original enlightenment" actualizes and manifests itself. In this way Dogen avoids any dichotomy between practice and enlightenment, means and ends. For Śaṅkara, however, such a view is not possible, because he does not accept any manifestations of Brahman: all are negated as delusive māyā, which obscures nirguṇa (transcending all characteristics) Brahman. For the Buddhist, in contrast, emptiness is not other than form, and Buddhanature is not to be found elsewhere than in its manifestation as myriad phenomena. Therefore, what is to be realized is not something apart from phenomena -- some Absolute that indifferently transcends them -- but their true nature, which leaves each to function freely as ippo-gujin, "the total exertion of a single thing" embodying the whole universe. And for Dogen zazen is the example par excellence of the ippo-gujin manifesting man's Buddhanature.

    When I do not attempt to get anything from my zazen, then it can be realized to be the complete, lacking-nothing manifestation of "my" Buddhanature. This does not deny the reality of enlightenment from the relative standpoint. Done in such a fashion -- neither seeking nor anticipating any effects -- zazen in itself gradually transforms my character, and eventually there is an experience in which I realize clearly that the true nature of my mind and the true nature of the universe are nondual. Zazen cannot be said to cause this experience; enlightenment is always an accident, as Chogyam Trungpa has said, but practice undeniably makes us more accident-prone. Although the mind thereafter no longer needs to search for itself, the way in which this no-seeking mind cultivates and manifests itself is through practice, for this no-seeking mind can deepen itself endlessly. "We have already been told: 'It never, never ends.' Reaching Buddha, it is ever more assiduous" (Nyoraizenshin). [38] Even the empty sky needs to be beaten with a stick; even the Buddha is only halfway there. And since there is therefore no "there," no final resting point, no-seeking mind is "there" at every moment and always has been.



You cannot think of the Thinker of thinking; you cannot know the Knower of knowing.... He is never thought of, but is the Thinker; He is never known, but is the Knower.
Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad [39]

Another way to approach the crucial difference between Advaita and Mahāyāna is by considering the relation between Ātman and śūnyatā. What is the Buddhist objection to the Self, and what is the Vedāntic objection to emptiness? The Buddhist understands that the Ātman is not the subject of the subject-object dualism; what he finds problematic is the notion of a substance, whereas for the Advaitin it is precisely this lack of a substance which (Buddhist



p. 140 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

denials notwithstanding) seems nihilistic, or, to say the least, unattractive in comparison with an eternal, immutable, all-encompassing Absolute.

    There is more than one way to respond to this disagreement. Ontologically, we may ask what could differentiate an unqualified One-without-a-second from a qualityless Emptiness, since our notion of a one seems relative to that of another from which it is distinguished. As Dasgupta has pointed out, it is difficult indeed to distinguish pure being from pure nonbeing. [40] Another approach is phenomenological. As we have seen, both nondualist systems agree there is nothing to attain, but what would it mean to realize that Self/noself-which-cannot-be-attained? How could a Self come to know itself, and how is this different from what happens in Buddhism when...when what? When emptiness realizes itself? We feel again the force of one of the oldest questions in Buddhism: Who or what experiences nirvāṇa/satori?

    As soon as we formulate the question in this way, several things fall into place, because we find a crucial meeting ground in the agreement that the Self/emptiness cannot know itself. "It is unknown to those who know it," proclaims the Kena Upaniṣad, "and known to those who do not know it." [41] This same paradox appears in other famous Upaniṣadic passages, such as Yājñavalkya's discussion with Maitreyī in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka: "When to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self,... then what could one know and through what? Through what could one know that owing to which all this is known -- through what, O Maitreyī, could one know the Knower? " [42] The obvious way to resolve this knowing-which-is-not-knowing paradox is to distinguish our usual dualistic modes of knowing from another, more "intuitive" mode. But perhaps we should beware of the perennial philosophical tendency to think we have understood something when we have merely made a new distinction and invented a name for it. Advaita defines the Self as that which can never become an object; the sense-of-self is delusive precisely because it is such an objectification. That sense is maintained by a constant stream of internal dialogue in which I talk to myself, repeating that I am this, that I have that characteristic, and so forth. But this way of expressing it is not quite right, for who is talking to whom? Who identifies or attaches to what? There are only "mental modifications" (vṛtti), which as it were interact and have a life of their own. When these thoughts cease, the self-luminous Self is realized -- yet again, this is not something produced, modified, purified, or uncovered. Not only do all analogies fail here, but Śaṅkara's account of the Brahmātmakāravṛtti (discussed in section I) leads us to conclude that even "knowing Brahman" is a metaphor for an experience which is better described as a coming-to-dwell "in" a formlessness which does not know itself reflexively, but which is serene and immutable because it needs nothing.

    But could not the experience "of" such a non-self-reflexive substance be described just as well as an "emptiness"? It is surely significant that the same knowing-of-not-knowing paradox is found in Ch'an. Dogen himself disliked



p. 141 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

the term kensho, "to see into one's nature," because of its dualistic implications. Many well-known dialogues make the same point. "What are you looking for, going here and there?" Lo-han asked Wen-i. "I don't know, '' he replied, no doubt somewhat plaintively. "Not knowing is most intimate," approved Lo-han, precipitating Wen-i's awakening.

NAN-CHUAN: If you try to turn towards the Way, it will turn away from you.

CHAO-CHOU: If I do not try to turn towards it, how can I know the way?

NAN-CHUAN: The Way is not a matter of knowing or not-knowing. Knowing is delusion; not-knowing is a blank consciousness. When you have really reached the true way beyond all doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space...." [43]

    So the Self cannot be known, and the Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. In accordance with its affirmation of "empty'' form, Mahāyāna does not accept the nirguṇa state of pure formlessness. Some Ch'an masters, such as Te-shan (who burned his commentaries on the Diamond Sūtra), are traditionally criticized for being "too empty," for emphasizing the emptiness of form over the form of emptiness. So quietism is not encouraged. But when we look for another alternative, a "middle way" between these extremes, we discover another paradox: if the Way is neither a matter of knowing something, nor blankly dwelling in not-knowing-anything, then there is no dualism between delusion and enlightenment. Commenting on Hsuan-sha's statement that "all the universe is one bright jewel," Dogen concludes:

Even if there is perplexed or troubled thinking, it is not apart from the bright jewel. It is not a deed or thought produced by something that is not the bright jewel. Therefore, both coming and going in the Black Mountain's Cave of Demons [that is, in delusions] are themselves nothing but the one bright jewel. [44]

Of course, insofar as everything is the complete manifestation of Buddhanature, this must be the case, but the point is more subtle that that. It is clearer in Yung-Chia's Song of Enlightenment, which begins:

Have you not seen a man of Tao at his ease
In his non-active (wu-wei) and beyond learning states
Who neither suppresses thoughts nor seeks the real? To him
The real nature of ignorance is Buddhatā
And the non-existent body of illusion is Dharmakāya. [45]

To reject delusion and accept the truth is just another form of delusion. Yung-Chia says later, for such discrimination between rejecting and accepting is still dualistic; "one who practices in this way mistakes a thief for his own son." The Way is not a matter of escaping delusion, because there is nowhere to escape except to an equally delusive quietism. It is rather a matter of liberating delusion, as Dogen might say. The difference is that with our usual delusion there is the anxious compulsion to grasp something, a desire which is just as problematic whether it is a craving for sense objects or the spiritual need To Know The



p. 142 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

Truth. What distinguishes "liberated" delusion is the utter freedom of the mind to "dance" from one śūnya thing to another, from one set of concepts to a different and perhaps contradictory set. The difference is not necessarily in the concepts themselves -- they may be the same -- but how effortlessly the mind is able to play with them without getting stuck. To the extent that the mind thinks there is an objectifiable Truth (whether already grasped or not yet), or to the extent that it thinks dwelling in blankness-of-mind is the Truth, this freedom is not realized: the mind trips over itself, sticks at this, jumps to that, and does not want to let go because it still understands its fundamental task as finding and dwelling in a secure "home" for itself.

    Should your mind wander away, do not follow it, whereupon your wandering mind will stop wandering of its own accord. Should your mind desire to linger somewhere, do not follow it and do not dwell there, whereupon your mind's questing for a dwelling-place will cease of its own accord. Thereby, you will come to possess a non-dwelling mind -- a mind which remains in the state of non-dwelling. If you are fully aware in yourself of a non-dwelling mind, you will discover that there is just the fact of dwelling, with nothing to dwell upon or not to dwell upon. This full awareness in yourself of a mind dwelling upon nothing is known as having a clear perception of your own mind or, in other words. as having a clear perception of your own nature. A mind which dwells upon nothing is the Buddha-Mind, the mind of one already delivered, Bodhi-Mind, Uncreate Mind ... you will have attained to understanding from within yourself -- an understanding stemming from a mind that abides nowhere, by which we mean a mind free from delusion and reality alike. (Hui Hai) [46]

    The second noble truth of the Buddha identifies this "seeking" quality of mind as the problem. It is because of its preoccupation with various types of grasping that the mind cannot realize its formless nature. It is not the case that it wants anything in particular, for as soon as mind obtains what was wanted it wants something else, as we know. Most of all, mind wants itself, but the great irony is that that is the one thing it can never have. This does not stop mind from trying to grasp itself, and the result of that reflexivity is ego, or sense-of-self. That provides a kind of security, but at a tragic cost, for fear is generated at the same time: anything which is grasped can also be lost. No objectifications are stable enough, for "all things pass quickly away" -- fortunately, since success here would be a sort of petrification. Needless to say, however, this is not usually experienced as fortunate, fear of loss of self -- which we feel in many forms, most notably as fear of death -- becomes a suffering which pervades life, consciously or unconsciously. It results in the sometimes desperate attempt to construct a kind of "substitute immortality" through symbols -- for example, by collecting money or possessions (equal to accumulating life) or by creating culture objects (for example, books, art works) that will be gratefully appreciated by posterity (equal to surviving death in symbolic form). [47]

    The solution to this problem is simple but not easy. In order for formless mind to realize its formlessness and its corollary, freedom, the reflexively objectified sense-of-self and all its projections must collapse. The difficulty is



p. 143 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

how to approach that without making this collapse-into-not-seeking just one more thing that the ego seeks -- which is precisely what happens with the usual spiritual dualism between practice as means and enlightenment as goal. The alternative is not to abandon willfully the spiritual search, for the value of that search is that it is able to take all the desires and attachments wherein the mind is dispersed and concentrate them into one; it is the evaporation of that one which can then put all seeking to rest. Unless the formless, unborn nature of mind is clearly realized and not just conceptually grasped, the unconscious search for symbolic self-validation and substitute immortality continues, because fear of loss of self has not been fully resolved. The only true solution is for the mind indeed to lose its self: to "let go" of everything it has been identifying with, to fall into the Void and realize its "emptiness." Since formless mind has always been formless, and since the ego is not a thing but only certain self-reflexive ways of thinking, this is not really a death (although emotionally it may seem such), but a "forgetting" whereby the sense-of-self evaporates.

    To study yourself is to forget yourself, says Dogen, but "men are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real. Dharma" (Huang-po). What remains after such a fall is what there always has been: a formless mind which may be philosophically objectified as an Absolute but which is phenomenologically a nothing, a nothing which is able to experience itself only insofar as it becomes this or that, which it can do freely because it lacks nothing. When it realizes that it is nothing and when it needs nothing, then it is free to seek anything.



1. Other articles and responses published in Philosophy East and West which treat of this, and related, issues are: A. L. Herman, "A Solution to the Paradox of Desire in Buddhism," vol. 29, no. 1 (January 1979); John Visvader, "The Use of Paradox in Uroboric Philosophies," vol. 28, no. 4 (October 1978); Wayne Alt, "There is No Paradox Of Desire in Buddhism," vol. 30, no. 4 (October 1980); A. L. Herman, "Ah, But there is a Paradox...." ibid.; John Visvader, "Reply to Wayne Alt," ibid.: Roy Perrett, "The Bodhisatrva Paradox," vol. 36, no. 1 (January 1986); George Teschner, "It Is More Difficult to Crush a Flower," vol. 36. no. 4 (October 1986).

2. This is the fourth in a series of papers which argue that the diametrically opposed categories of Advaita Vedānta and Mahāyāna are in fact largely equivalent. All-Self versus no-self and substance versus modes are discussed in "Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same? " International Philosophical Quarterly 22, no. 1 (March 1982). The Unconditioned versus "all-conditionality" is discussed in "The Paradox of Causality in Mādhyamika," International Philosophical Quarterly 25, no. 1 (March 1985). Immutability versus impermanence is discussed in "The Mahāyāna Deconstruction of Time," Philosophy East and West 36, no. 1 (January 1986). Material from these and the present article is included in Nonduality: A Study in Compurative Philosophy, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

3. Or, if you prefer, "Everything is the cause of itself and everything is the effect of itself" (William Blake). Uncaused or self-caused amounts to the same thing. Śaṅkara analyzes and refutes the reality of spatiotemporal relations at many places in his large corpus. For example, Brahmasūt-



p. 144 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

rabhāṣya (hereafter BSB), II.i.14-20, argues that we cannot derive the real nature of causal relations from a series of discrete cause-and-effect phenomena. Unless otherwise noted, all Dogen quotes are from fascicles of the Shobogenzo; the ones in this paragraph are from the fascicles Bussho and Genjo-koan, respectively. The historical link -- if any is needed besides the nondual experience itself -- is probably Nāgārjuna, for Mādhyamika exercised a profound influence not only on all Mahāyāna philosophy, but also on Advaita. For the locus classicus of the Mādhyamika critique of causal and temporal relations, see Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamikakārikā, chapters 1 and 19, respectively. For a Vedāntic analysis of causality clearly influenced by Mādhyamika, see part three of Gauḍapāda's commentary on the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad. Gauḍapāda is believed to have been the teacher of Śaṅkara's teacher.

4. Mūlamadhyamikakārikā, XXV. 9.

5. Maṇḍūkyopaniṣad, IV. 56 (hereafter Māṇḍ).

6. Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind (New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1978),vol. 1. p. 45. The passage refers to Plotinus and Hegel, but it also describes the nondualist traditions discussed in this article.

7. And perhaps our "intimations of immortality": "Nevertheless, we feel and experience that we are eternal" (Spinoza's Ethics, V.23, scholium).

8. Māṇḍ., II.32.

9. The Pūrva-Mīmāṁsā-Sūtras of Jaimini, trans. Ganganatha Jha (Varanasi: Bharatiya Publishing House, 1979), I.i.2, p. 3.

10. The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, with the Commentary of Śaṅkarācārya, trans. Swāmī Mādhavānanda (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1975), I.iv.7, p. 89 (hereafter, BṛUp).

11. The Brahma-Sūtra-Bhāṣya of Śaṅkarācārya, trans. Swami Gambhirananda (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1972), I.i.4, p. 32 (hereafter BSB).

12. Ibid., pp. 32-33.

13. See BSB, preamble and I.i.4.

14. BSB, 1.i.4; see also Kaṭha Upaniṣad, I.ii.22.

15. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy (London: Allen and Unwin, 1983), vol. 2, p. 616. To support his view Radhakrishnan cites BSB, III.iv.27.

16. BSB,IB.i.4.

17. Br.Up, I.IV.7, p. 93.

18. Here, as so often with such matters, we bump up against the limits of language. To say "the mind becomes aware of itself" implies a reflexive process, and such dualism is almost unavoidable, given the subject-predicate structure of language. But for Śaṅkara realization is just the opposite: the sense-of-self is the result of just such self-reflexivity, and liberation occurs when the mind stops trying to grasp its own tail. This issue is discussed in section III.

19. Māṇḍ., IV.30.

20. Māṇḍ., IV. 98.

21. BSB, IV.iii.14, p.884.

22. Anantanand Rambachan, "Śaṅkara's Rationale for Śruti as the Definitive Source of Brahmajñāna," Philosophy East and West 36, no. 1 (January 1986).

23. BSB, I.i.3-4, pp. 18-21.

24. For example, Br.Up. II.i.20. That the scriptures stop false identification is repeated many times in Śaṅkara's works, e.g., in BṛUp, I.i.4, p. 38: "Knowledge (of the Self) serves the purpose of eradicating the unreal nescience that is the cause of the worldly state."

25. Upadeśasāhasrī, XVII.159.

26. BSB, I.i.2, p. 17.

27. In the light of this discussion of Śaṅkara, the following passage from Plato's Republic provides a suggestive parallel: ... [O]ur view of these matters must be this, that education is not in reality what some people proclaim it to be in their professions. What they aver is that they can put true knowledge into a soul that does not possess it, as if they were inserting vision into blind eyes.... But our present argument indicates... that the true analogy for this indwelling power in the soul and the instrument whereby each of us apprehends is that of an eve that could not be converted to the light from the darkness except by turning the whole body. Even so, this organ of knowledge must be turned



p. 145 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

around from the world of becoming together with the entire soul,... until the soul is able to endure the contemplation of essence and the brightest region of being.... Of this thing, then, there might be an art, an art of the speediest and most effective shifting or conversion of the soul, not an art of producing vision in it, but on the assumption that it possesses vision but does not rightly direct it and does not look where it should, an art of bringing this about. (Republic, VII, 518b-d, trans. Paul Shorey, in Plat: The Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1961)).

28. "Dogen's Bendowa," trans. Norman Waddell and Abe Masao, The Eastern Buddhist 4, no. 1(1971): 144.

29. My appreciation of Dogen has been enriched by many secondary sources, notably: Hee Jin Kim, Dogen Kigen: Mystical Realist (Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1975); Francis Cook, "Enlightenment in Dogen's Zen," Journal of the international Association of Buddhist Studies 6, no. 1 (1983) ; Stephen Heine, "Temporality of Hermeneutics in Dogen's Shobogenzo," Philosophy East and West 33, no. 2 (April 1983). The Sesshin Sessho quote is in Cook, p. 18. The Bussho quotes are from Heine, p. 140.

30. In Kim, Dogen Kigen, p. 283.

31. Bendowa, pp. 145-146.

32. Bendowa, pp. 146-148.

33. "That effect which exists for its own sake is not the effect of causation; accordingly, the effect of causal law is the same as the effect for effect's sake" (Shoko Jisso, in Kim, Dogen Kigen, p. 285). The philosophical expression of this paradox originates with Nāgārjuna. In the Mūlamadhyamikakārikā he argues that because there is cause and effect, there is no cause and effect: because everything is dependently originated (pratītyasamutpāda), for that very reason everything is to be experienced as nondependent and nonoriginated.

34. "Shobogenzo Buddha-nature, Part II," trans. Norman Waddell and Abe Masao, The Eastern Buddhist 9, no. 1 (May 1976): 88.

35. "Shoji 'Birth and Death,'" trans. Norman Waddell and Abe Masao, The Eastern Buddhist 5, no. 1(May 1972): 79.

36. "Shobogenzo Genjokoan," trans. Norman Waddell and Abe Masao. The Eastern Buddhist 5, no. 2 (October 1972): 139-140.

37. Ibid., p. 140, n.

38. In Kim, Dogen Kigen, p. 267.

39. Br.Up, III.iv.2, vii.23.

40. Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1974), vol. 1, p. 493.

41. Kenopaniṣad, II.3.

42. Br.Up, II.iv.14.

43. From case 19 of the Wu-men-kuan. Case 34 consists of Nan-ch'uan's simple statement: "Mind is not the Buddha. Knowing is not the way." There are also significant Christian parallels. John 1:18: "No man has ever seen God." Johannes Scotus (Erigena): "God does not know Himself, what He is, because He is not a what; in a certain respect He is incomprehensible to Himself and to every intellect.'' Every individual, says St. Dionysius, "by the very fact of not seeing and not knowing God, truly understands him who is beyond sight and knowledge; knowing this, too, that he is in all things that are felt and known."

44. "'One Bright Pearl' Dogen's Shobogenzo lkka Myoju," trans. Norman Waddell and Abe Masao, The Eastern Buddhist 4, no. 2 (October 1971): 117.

45. Lu K'uan Yu, Ch'an and Zen Teaching, 3d series (London: Rider and Co., 1962), p. 116.

46. The Zen Teaching of Hui Hai, trans. John Blofeld (London: Rider and Co., 1969). p. 56. There is a remarkable parallel in Hegel's analysis of "the bad infinite" (or "false endlessness": schlechte Unendlichkeit) in the Encyclopedia, part 1, Logic. There he defines "determination" as the certain quality of a something set off by that quality from other somethings. When it is realized that the quality of each entity depends on others because in a sense it has these others within itself as the conditions of its own determinateness (cf. the Hua Yen metaphor of Indra's Net) , this becomes alienation because the nature of each quality varies as the others do. This is a "bad infinite'' because insofar as I (for example) try to go beyond determination, I end up merely exchanging one finite



p. 146 The Path of No-path: Śaṅkara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice
Philosophy East and West, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 1988)

determination for another. The solution involves a reversal of perspective: true infinity is that of the "free-ranging variable," which always has some finite value but is not bound to any particular one. This is "being-for-self."

47. The concept of symbolic immortality projects is well discussed in Ernest Pecker's The Denial of Death (New York: The Free Press, 1973) and in Ken Wilber's The Atman Project (Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Press, 1980) and Up from Eden (New York: Doubleday/Anchor, 1981). This raises important questions about the nature of our academic research: is it a collective but no less symbolic immortality project? If we understand our work as scientific, is it an attempt at the very objectivity which is challenged by the subject matter we study?