By Toby Avard Foshay
Philosophy East and West
Volume 44, Number 3
(July 1994)
(C) by University of Hawaii Press

P.543 Previous discussions of deconstruction and Buddhism have concentrated on the critique of metaphysics in Derrida and Naagaarjuna. Impressive parallels in the deployment of negative dialectic in both thinkers have been observed, but both Robert Magliola and David Loy, for instance, conclude their discussions with an affirmation of the superior flexibility and subversive power of the Maadhyamikan critique, in, as Magliola puts it, its capacity to move freely between logocentric and deconstructive modes of discourse.(1) Also, both Magliola and Loy, (2) at certain points, appeal beyond discursive to meditational and ascetical practices that foster a liberated, nondual consciousness. My own approach to the discussion of Derrida and Buddhism will have two emphases.(3) First, my engagement with Derrida will be rather specific, concentrating on the role played by the issue of negative theology in his work, specifically with respect to his 1987 essay "How to Avoid Speaking: Denials."(4) The rationale nale for focusing on the issue of negative theology is that Derrida confronts there a relation between deconstruction and the metaphysical tradition that does not conform in a straightforward manner to the Heideggerian characterization of that tradition as ontotheology.(5) Negative theology is the scene of an explicit confrontation in the discourse of ontotheology between the planes of the immanent and the transcendent. This is hardly in itself a surprising observation, but the role of language and its relation to the transcendent in the discourse of apophatic theology is particularly revealing of the way in which the characteristic bias toward monistic and theistic positions asserts itself in Western thought. The result, then, is that, in the context of his discussion of negative theology, a discourse that impinges directly on such pivotal "concepts" in his work as differance, trace, and supplement, Derrida engages in a more general and "metaphysical" discussion of language and signification than in his earlier, more phenomenological- and structuralist-oriented writings. Second, in my discussion of Buddhism, I will focus on the role of language in Naagaarjuna and Dogen in an attempt to establish a basis for comparison with the thought of Derrida that engages more with views of the phenomenal and immanent than of the conceptual and transcendent. The issue of language in Maadhyamikan thought bears directly on its treatment of the doctrine of the "two truths" and of the unique position of Buddhism with respect to praxis and, consequently, to the relation between immanence and transcendence. It is Buddhism's uncompromising commitment to addressing the problems of existence from within the horizons of that existence that marks it off from other philosophical and P.544 religious positions, Eastern as well as Western. The role of language, as the scene of a particular theoretical and praxial confrontation between the realms of sa^msaara and, has received specific attention in some recent work. After a brief discussion of language in Naagaarjuna, I will draw in particular on Hee-Jin Kim's discussion of language in the thought of Dogen Kigen, (6) as exemplary of a certain development in Mahaayaana thinking about the relation between realization and discursive representation. Kim's discussion of Dogen provides the basis for my own speculations about the role of language in a key passage in Dogen's writings, his description of his enlightenment experience under his Chinese teacher. The discussion of Dogen, I will argue, allows for some interesting observations of affinities with the thought of Derrida. I The role negative theology plays in Derrida's work is a complex and revealing one. On the one hand, differance, he says--though it resembles negative theology occasionally, "even to the point of being indistinguishable from negative theology"--is "not theological, not even in the order of the most negative of negative theologies."(7) On the other hand, he admits that the thought of differance "is and it is not" a negative theology,(8) that it "has been called, precipitately, a type of negative theology (this was neither true nor false)."(9) Derrida acknowledges that negative theology has an irregular position in the history of classical ontotheological discourse, that "what is called 'negative theology' (a rich and very diverse corpus) does not let itself be easily assembled under the general category of 'onto-theology-to-be-deconstructed,'"(10) that, respecting negative theology, "we are touching upon the limits and the greatest audacities of discourse in Western thought."(11) Hence his often cited "fascination"(12) with a discourse that subverts from within the tradition the confident affirmative (cataphatic) delineations of ontology and theology, by means of systematic (apophatic) negations of the adequacy of all conceptual determinations, pushing to the limits of sense and signification its attempts to unsay the sayable, and to say the unsayable. As Pseudo-Dionysius observes of the via negative as the itinerary of a religious unknowing: I pray that we could come to this darkness so far above light! If only we lacked sight and knowledge so as to see, so as to know, unseeing and unknowing, that which lies beyond all vision and knowledge. For this would be really to see and to know: to praise the Transcending One in a transcending way, namely through the denial of all beings.(13) And, as Meister Eckhart asserts, in more theological, less ecstatic, terms: P.545 God is neither being nor goodness. Goodness adheres to being and is not more extensive. If there were no being, neither would there be goodness. Yet being is purer than goodness. God is neither good nor better nor best of all. Whoever would say that God is good would be treating him as unjustly as though he were calling the sun black.(14) The "audacities" of Eckhart's negative theology were sufficient to get him condemned for heresy (the last two statements above were specifically condemned),(15) even though he carefully affirms: "In saying that God is not a being and is above being, I have not denied being to God; rather I have elevated it in him."(16) It is precisely this reserve, this "ontological wager of hyperessentiality,"(17) that Derrida cites as cause for refusing the analogy negative theology/deconstruction, for negative theologies "are always concerned with disengaging a superessentiality beyond the finite categories of essence or existence, that is, of presence, and always hastening to recall that God is refused the predicate of existence, only in order to acknowledge his superior, inconceivable, and ineffable mode of being."(18) The "more or less tenable" nature of the analogy of the language of differance to negative theology is unavoidable: One would thus recognize some traits, the family resemblance of negative theology, in every discourse that seems to return in a regular and insistent manner to this rhetoric of negative determination, endlessly multiplying the defenses and the apophatic warnings: this, which is called X (for example text, writing, the trace, differance, the hymen, the supplement, the pharmakon, the parergon, etc.) "is" neither this nor that, neither sensible nor intelligible, neither present nor absent, not even neutral, not even subject to a dialectic with a third moment, without any possible sublation.(19) However, what this "X" "means" "is 'before' the concept, the name, the word, 'something' that would be nothing, that no longer arises from Being, from presence... or even less from some hyperessentiality."(20) On the one hand, deconstructive "X" eludes the dialectical relation essential/hyperessential. On the other hand, "the onto-theological reappropriation always remains possible--and doubtless inevitable insofar as one speaks, precisely, in the element of logic and of onto-theological grammar."(21) In "How to Avoid Speaking: Denials," Derrida finally takes up the challenge of his earlier refusal of the supposed analogy between negative theology and the thinking of the trace and of differance, a refusal that "amounted to a promise: one day I would have to stop deferring, one day I would have to try to explain myself directly on this subject, and at last speak of 'negative theology' itself."(22) But, of course, to speak of negative theology "itself, " Derrida observes, is to be governed by the language, the structure, the strategy of negative theology: "Is one not P.546 compelled to speak of negative theology according to the modes of negative theology, in a way that is at once impotent, exhausting, and inexhaustible? Is there ever anything other than a 'negative theology' of 'negative theology'?"(23) Negative theology presents an unusually difficult case for Derrida, then, because, as dialectical and consciously aporetic in its relation to ontotheological predication, it is itself transgressive and subversive of the tradition, while still perhaps (though this needs to be investigated) affirming the intentions of that tradition. Whereas negative theology acknowledges the tensions within and surrounding ontotheological affirmation, Derrida sees these tensions as calling into question and fundamentally challenging the coherence of logocentric discourse. However, he says, as we know: There is no Trojan horse unconquerable by Reason (in general). The unsuipassable, unique, and imperial grandeur of the order of reason, that which makes it not just another actual order or structure (a determined historical structure, one structure among other possible ones), is that one cannot speak out against it except by being for it, that one can protest it only from within it; and within its domain, Reason leaves us only the recourse to stratagems and strategies. The revolution against reason, in the historical form of classical reason... can be made only within it, in accordance with a Hegelian law.(24) The "stratagem" that would subvert this "Hegelian law" with respect to negative theology, then, clearly must focus not on the dialectical moves or the language of hyperessentiality, but on moments of aporia, moments which "secrete" an other-than-reason not comprehended by a logic of noncontradiction either positive or negative, cataphatic of apophatic. Such an aporetic secretion Derrida locales precisely in the way in which the notion of secrecy itself secretes the arbitrary, or at least unknowable and mysterious, sources of its authority and authenticity-secretes authority both in the sense of hiding its origins (the authority of its authority) and of exuding, asserting, or authorizing it at the same times and in the very same moment and movement Not only is initiation into the mysteries of the via negativa beyond conceptual predication, but it is beyond mere dialectical negation, is prior to all distinctions, prior even to the privation of distinctions. Here, in this "beyond," this place beyond place, Pseudo-Dionysius says: "Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing."(25) Such as initiation into the mystery must be both secret and also shared with other initiates, and it must govern one's relations with the uninitiated. It constitutes a society of the esoteric and a hierarchical relation to the exoteric--entailing a spiritual politics and pedagogics, that is, a P.547 mystagogics. But, the emanant terrain of the mystagogic, the eso/ exoteric, is, Derrida argues, more properly seen as an immanent domain of conscious/unconscious, of a psychagogics. The enlightenment or awakening to the darkness of unknowing is, Derrida Says, an enigmatic "sharing of the secret": Not only the sharing of the secret with the other, my partner in a sect or in a secret society, my accomplice, my witness, my ally. I refer first of all to the secret shared within itself; its partition "proper," which divides the essence of a secret that cannot even appear to me alone except in starting to be lost, to divulge itself, hence to dissimulate itself, as secret, in showing itself: dissimulating its dissimulation.(26) This "partition 'proper'" is the source of both the distinction and the intersection of the aporetic and dialectic moments of apophatic discourse, the "double inscription" of negative theological knowledge: Here Dionysius evokes a double tradition, a double mode of transmission (ditten paradosin); on the one hand unspeakable, secret, prohibited, reserved, inaccessible (aporreton) or mystical (mystiken), "symbolic and initiatory"; on the other hand, philosophic, demonstrative (apodeiktiken) , capable of being shown.... Dionysius recognizes these two modes "intersect." The "inexpressible" (arreton) is woven together or intersects (sympeplektai) "the expressible" (to reto).(27) As for the crossing itself, the "symploke," it necessarily "belongs to neither of the two modes and doubtless even precedes their distribution. At the intersection of the secret and the nonsecret, what is the secret? " What I have myself called "secretion, " this simultaneous occlusion and exudation, Derrida names denegation (denegation--translated inadequately as "denial" in the English version of "Comment ne pas parler: denegations"), "a word," he says, "I would like to understand prior even to its elaboration in the Freudian context": There is a secret of denial and a denial of the secret. The secret as such, as secret, separates and already institutes a negativity; it is a negation that denies itself. It de-negates itself. This denegation does not happen to it by accident, it is essential and originary. And in the as such of the secret that denies itself because it appears to itself in order to be what it is, this denegation gives no chance to dialectic.(28) Denegation, then, names the "partition 'proper'" of a secret.'that cannot even appear to one alone except in starting to be lost." It occurs in the place-which-is-not-a-place, where, as Dionysius says, one is "neither oneself nor someone else," neither self nor other, prior to the discursive topoi of theology, philosophy, or psychology, neither a Freudian unconscious nor a Hegelian negation of the negation, but an "essential and originary" self-negating negation, that in its double movement con- P.548 stitutes and deconstitutes self (and other). The place which is no-place contains a secret which is no-secret, Derrida says: "There is no secret as such: I deny it. And this is what I confide in secret to whomever allies himself to me. This is the secret of the alliance. If the thee-logical necessarily insinuates itself there, this does not mean that the secret itself is theo-logical."(29) II The Buddhist tradition is a striking instance of a world "religion" that formulates itself in a nontheological manner. As a religion its focus is firmly pragmatic; defining the human condition as one of suffering (Skt, du.hkha, "turmoil"), the aim is to achieve a total liberation from suffering. Suffering is said to arise from ignorant desire, and liberation is achieved by the practice of the "middle way," the "eightfold path" of renunciation, virtuous action, and meditation. In the first seven centuries after the life of the Buddha (ca. 563-483 B.C.) , of the several schools of Buddhist philosophy, the Abhidharmic (a scholastic tradition of analysis) and the Praj~naapaaramitaan (a more dialectic tradition of wisdom-realization) met in the thought of Naagaarjuna and the Maadhyamikan school. The Praj~naapaaramitaan tradition viewed the ignorance that gives rise to suffering as the misconstrual of the impermanence (anitya) of all things, including and especially that of the self--thus, the central Buddhist doctrine of the nonpersistence of the self (anaatman) . The fundamental character of reality as impermanent for the Praj~naapaaramitaan tradition was `suunyataa, emptiness or voidness, and its formulation of the thought of emptiness was in terms of a negative dialectic: reality is neither this nor that. Naagaarjuna made the doctrine of `suunyataa central to his thought and extended the Praj~naapaaramitaan negative dialectic into a full-blown critical nondualism. Thus, we have in the Buddhist tradition an example of a foundationally apophatic orientation of thought. A significant question, then, arises as to how, if Buddhism manages to avoid the dualistic this-world/ other-world formulations of a theology, does it manage the more immanent, but still dualistic, tendencies of ontology, and of its own discursive articulation. One way it has done so in various of its schools and teachings is by pointing to apparently nonlinguistically dependent religious practices that give access to ostensibly extralinguistic orders of consciousness and experience. Of course, there is an inherent problem in such claims, insofar as appeals beyond language must demonstrate their validity, and it is certainly difficult to do so without an apparently contradictory reliance on language and discourse as means to do so. The radically immanent practice orientation of Buddhism, primarily soteriological in its commitment not to knowledge but to liberation, is rigorously propelled, then, toward an equally radical apophatic discourse that, in the very act of arguing discursively for the nondualist structure of reality, is p.549 capable of articulating and demonstrating its own nondual character as `suunya, empty of self-subsistent reality. Such claims for the self-dissolving, nonsubsistent character of discourse, including discourse of the dharma, are explicit in Naagaarjuna. He says, for instance: "We interpret the dependent arising of all things as [`suunyataa]. [`Suunyataa] is a guiding, not a cognitive, notion, presupposing the everyday. It is itself the middle way."(30) The very character, then, of the foundational notion of reality as emptiness, `suunyata, is itself empty of essential, self-subsistent significance; `suunyataa is not a cognitive definition of ultimate reality, but a "guiding notion" that encourages recognition of its own nondual nature, as well as that of all reality. The apophatic or negative character of the relation between immanent and transcendent in Maadhyamikan thought is expressed in its position on the doctrine of "two truths, " the distinction between temporal reality, sa^mv.rti, and ultimate reality, paramaartha. As Naagaarjuna affirms: The teaching of the Dharma by the various Buddhas is based on the two truths; namely, the relative (worldly) truth and the absolute (supreme) truth. Those who do not know the distinction between the two truths cannot understand the profound nature of the Buddha's teaching.(31) The question becomes, of course: if reality is ultimately empty and nondual, why is the doctrine of two truths affirmed so uncompromisingly? As Naagaarjuna goes on to point out: A wrongly conceived `suunyataa can ruin a slow-witted person. It is like a badly seized snake or wrongly executed incantation. Thus the wise one (i.e., the Buddha) once resolved not to teach about the Dharma, thinking the slow-witted might wrongly conceive it.(32) The danger of the notion of emptiness is that it will itself be taken precisely as self-subsistent and definitive of ultimate reality, ensconcing that reality in a contradictory way precisely within the realm of language and conceptual determination, in an attempt to capture truth in a monism. This would undermine nondualism in dissolving the distinction between sa^mv..rti and paramaartha, rather than sustaining it in nondual relation. But, in the bridging verse between the two passages above, Naagaarjuna asserts: Without relying on everyday common practices (i.e., relative truths), the absolute truth cannot be expressed. Without approbching the absolute truth, cannot be attained.(33) Language, as partaking of the dualistic, finite realm of sa^msaara, then, is on the one hand dangerous in fostering the illusion that it can capture essential truth in conceptual terms. On the other hand, Naagaarjuna affirms, language is absolutely necessary in fostering our awareness that P.550 the relation between relative and absolute reality is precisely nondual, rather than monistic. As Naagaarjuna says: "The ontic range of is the ontic range of the everyday world. There is not even the subtlest difference between the two."(34) Language, as one of the "everyday common practices," is inescapable in the pursuit of liberation, but one must be careful that one grasps it rightly--that is, in the light of the `suunya character of all phenomena, including the very notion of `suunya itself. III The Ch'an/Zen tradition of Buddhism in China and Japan arose in continuity with Indian Maadhyamikan thought, and contained tensions between Maadhyamikan (nondualist) and Yogaacaaric (idealist) tendencies.(35) As an appeal to direct realization of nondual consciousness (praj~naawisdom), Ch'an/Zen described itself as "a special tradition outside the scriptures," emphasizing meditation practice rather than scriptural study, devotional acts, or philosophical reflection. The focus on meditation practice and on direct realization of `suunyataa tended to externalize the role of language in the Zen tradition. Even the central role played by koan in Rinzai Zen is conceived as external and instrumentalistic, insofar as the koan is viewed as designed to frustrate discriminating thought and to force the mind into an immediate, transintellectual and translinguistic, apprehension of praj~naa-wisdom. This commitment to "sudden realization" in Rinzai Zen, in its firm orientation toward practice rather than theory, is a considerable distance from Naagaarjuna's concern for discourse and the necessity to make fine distinctions in its employment in the service of the Dharma. In an essay titled "`The Reason of Words and Letters': Dogen and Koan Language," Hee-Jin Kim argues that Dogen, the founder of the Soto school in Japan, has a conception of language more analogous to that of Naagaarjuna. For Kim, Dogen views language as the scene, rather than a mere instrument, of realization. Kim observes: The fundamental difference between Dogen and most other commentators has to do with his awareness of the vital realization potential of language. As Dogen sees it, the koan does not castigate the intellect only to supplant it with praj~naa or transcendent wisdom; rather it liberates the intellect in the direction of its own ontological and soteriological possibilities.(36) Kim explains that Dogen's Soto-school emphasis on zazen-only, singleminded sitting (shikan-taza), was accompanied by a development of koan, not as in the Rinzai school in which they were used as paradigms of enlightenment experience, but in a sense transformed by Dogen's understanding of zazen: "As he transformed zazen into single-minded sitting, so Dogen adopted the koan as the 'realization-koan' (genjo-koan). For Dogen, single-minded sitting and the realization-koan were aspects of a single methodology. In brief zazen was koan, koan was zazen."(37) P.551 Kim describes the Rinzai use of the paradigm-koan as instrumentalist, viewing the koan as a ".stratagem" designed to thwart dualistic thinking. In is tradition, "the koan thus functions to disturb, exasperate, and finally bankrupt the intellect with a view to allowing the mind to see things `as they truly are in the allegedly trans-intellectual state of consciousness."(38) Dogen describes his own experience when studying in China of the Rinzai use of paradigm-koan as strategies to foil reason: "The idea is that... only incomprehensible utterances are the task of the buddhas and patriarchs... and [these koan] are never concerned with discriminating thought. This is known as the great enlightenment prior to the time when no incipient sign has yet emerged."(39) But Dogen has no patience with such dualist notions: If [these utterances] were ultimately incomprehensible, what they now allegedly comprehend must be wrong. A good many such fellows abound in Sung China, and I have seen them myself. How pitiable are they who are unaware that discriminating thought is words and phrases, and that words and phrases liberate discriminating thought!(40) Dogen points out that the supposed incomprehensibility of koan is being comprehended by its claimants in terms of discriminating thought (that is, in terms of thought that distinguishes between the comprehensible and the incomprehensible). That "words and phrases liberate discriminating thought, " Kim explains, informs Dogen's notion of the "realization-koan," in which "koan language presents the workings of the Buddha-nature, in which self-limitation and self-liberation are interfused in a paradoxical way."(41) Kim locates this interfusion of self-limitation and self-liberation at the core of Dogen's teaching, identifying it as "the dialectical relationship of nonduality and duality."(42) in other words as Dogen's apprehension in terms of practice of the doctrine of "two truths," the "gathered" (dual) and "ungathered" (nondual). Central to Dogen's view of the implications of the "interfusion" of limiting and liberating thought is his notion of "total exertion" (ippo-guujin) as the priority of ascetic practice. "Total exertion" is a total practice orientation in which both zazen (that is, nonlinguistic) and koan (that is, linguistic) are embraced nondually. This produces in Dogen a dynamic notion of dharmas (actualities that are not dualistic entities). Kim explains: "In this view, a particular actuality is never devaluated or obliterated; to the contrary, the uniqueness, freedom, and purity of the single dharma emerges unequivocally into the foreground."(43) The implications for Buddhist practice and understanding are in Dogen's teaching profound. Dogen says: We should study, then, the moment when we consider the water of the ten directions in light of the ten directions. It is not only when humans and gods see water that we should study this; there is also a study in which water sees P.552 water. Because water practices and verifies water, there is a penetrating study in which water speaks of water.... Water liberates itself through water.... [W]ater is the koan realized.(44) Thus, through "total exertion" of awareness (that is, of the nondual body-mind) , what is self-limited is realized to be nondual, so that the liberating effect derives from the nondifference between the perceiver and the perceived, a nondifference in which the actuality of their particularity, which is also a linguistic materiality (that is, a differance), is neither dissolved nor reified. As Kim points out, perception and comprehension here, in which language is necessarily involved as koan, is not understook, as with the paradigm-koan in the analogy of a "finger pointing to the moon"; the realizationist view, as Kim describes it, is that "the finger not only points to the moon [,] it is the moon": To put it differently, the finger, according to the realizationist view, is not the moon, but the moon is invariably the finger, because it completes itself as the finger. Thus the realizationist view does not and should not reject the instrumentalist view; it only perfects it.(45) Dogen's position on language, as argued by Kim, is precisely in harmony with Naagaarjuna's assertion that "without relying on everyday common practices [such as language], the absolute truth cannot be expressed."(46) As you will recall, the previous two verses find Naagaarjuna emphasizing the absolute centrality of the doctrine of two truths: "Those who do not know the distinction between the two truths cannot understand the profound nature of the Buddha's teaching."(47) Naagaarjuna also implies that this distinction between the two truths depends on grasping `suunyataa correctly. I will suggest that the Western distinction between signified and signifier (as the conceptual and phonic aspects of the sign, respectively) is helpful in sustaining and rightly grasping the distinction between the two truths, in its operation within the relative, immanent domain of language as sa^mv.rti. A very striking instance both of the implications of Dogen's Maadhyamikan view of language, and of the usefulness of the signifier/signified distinction within language occurs in Dogen's own accounts of his pivotal enlightenment experience in China, under his teacher, Ju-ching. According to Dogen, Ju-ching described the nondual practice of zazen-only (Jpn, shikan-taza) as "dropping off body and mind": "To study meditation under a master is to drop the body and mind; it is single-minded intense sitting without burning incense, worshipping, reciting, practicing repentance or reading sutras."(48) In the two detailed accounts (by others) of Dogen's enlightenment experience, he is said to have achieved profound awakening and resolution of his long-term quandary over the relation between practice and enlightenment. Takashi James Kodera conflates the two accounts as follows: P.553 One day during the intensive summer training in the first year of Pao-ch'ing (1225), Ju-ching shouted at a disciple, "When you study under a master, you must drop off body and mind; what is the use of single-minded intense sleeping!" Sitting right beside this monk, Dogen suddenly attained a Great Enlightenment. Immediately, he went up to the abbot's quarters and burned incense. Ju-ching inquired, "What is the burning of incense fo?" Dogen replied, "The body and mind have been dropped; that is why I have come!" "The body and mind have been dropped; you dropped the body and mind!" said Ju-ching approvingly.(49) In discussing Dogen's predilection for homophonous wordplay, Kim mentions a hypothesis about "casting off body and mind" ventured by Takasaki Jikido: According to Takasaki, the term "casting off body and mind" (shinjin-datsuraku) never appears in the works of Ju-ching, Dogen's master. Another expression "casting off the mind's dust" (shinjin-datsuraku) does appear, however, though just once. It is possible, therefore, that Dogen may have understood Ju-ching's "casting off the mind's dust" as "casting off body and mind." When we consider the fact that these two expressions are homophonous in Japanese..., it is not too far-fetched to think that he may have hit upon this central idea of "casting off body and mind" by way of homophonous association, which in turn triggered his religio-philosophical imagination.(50) Though Kim cites Takasaki's hypothesis as a potential explanation for Dogen's later yen for homophonous wordplay, I would argue that more than surface wordplay and arbitrarily sliding signifier/signified relations may be at work here. By hearing "mind's dust" as "body and mind," Dogen may have heard not only the two signifieds in the one signifier,(51) but a signification also of the relation between signified and signifier. "Mind's dust" may be seen to signify not only a metaphoric state of dullness, but also an actual state of dividedness of the mind and, as such, a mind-body dualism. The "mind's dust" as metaphor is itself "mind's dust," because it signifies and enacts the dividedness of body and mind. As metaphor, "mind's dust" asserts a certain relationship of body/mind: what is "dust" in/on the mind is its imagining itself as mind alone, not body/mind.(52) The metaphor, "mind's dust," not only signifies metaphorically (that is, by analogy, by asserting atension of similarity/difference, a state observable in the world, that is, of dust on some "thing"), but it also enacts as metaphor what it signifies, insofar as metaphor exploits a tension between identity and difference between entities, maintaining that what is different is somehow the same. "Dropping off the mind's dust" and "dropping off body and mind" are the same, are homophonous, as signifiers; they also have an equivalance as signifieds. P.554 Further, rather than merely nondifferent as signs, they are nondual, insofar as they sustain their own registers of signifying structure: metaphorical/differential and conceptual/identical. So that, even more pertinently, the nondifference/homophony at the level of signifiers is accompanied by an equivalance at the level of signifieds: "dropping off the mind's dust" is (or can be argued to be) "dropping off [the difference of] mind and body."(53) And this eqivalance is itself a signifier/signified relation that, in being interchangeable (one can be read as the signifier of the other; each can be read as both signifier and signified of the other), enacts the nondualism of the realms of mind and body, of metaphor and of concept, of identity and of difference, of sa^msaara and But this enactment is borne by and nondually related to signification. We have a nonduality of constative and performative, of instrumentalist and realizationist, and of language and experience, and therefore within this "total exertion" of signification a "practice of the koan" and a "koan of practice"--what Dogen calls the nonduality of "practice-realization." But what I would emphasize at the moment is the "dharmic" character of signification as its own "total exertion," as a "self-exertion," not unrelated to our effort in this essay, with/in language, to grasp the `suunya-character of language itself constructively. IV Derrida asks: "At the intersection of the secret and the nonsecret, what is the secret?"(54) This intersection is the meeting, interweaving, or symploke of the expressible and the inexpressible. As Dogen exclaims: "How pitiable are those who are unaware that discriminating thought is words and phrases, and that words and phrases liberate discriminating thought! "(55) Or as Naagaarjuna warns: "A wrongly conceived `suunyataa can ruin a slow-witted person."(56) What is this intersection or symploke between the expressible and the inexpressible, the right and wrong understanding of `suunyataa, such that words and phrases liberate rather than delude the speaker and hearer? As Derrida says, the essence of a secret is divided so that it "cannot even appear to one alone except in starting to be lost." When Derrida makes bold to assert something that is "essential and originary," it is this self-divided function of "denegation," a "negation that denies itself."(57) Like the notion of `suuyataa; which declares its own provisional and inessential character, denegation asserts the self-dividedness of every articulation--not only its participation in two registers of significance, of the expressible and the inexpressible, of sa^mv.rti and paramaartha but also the self-negating or empty character of the relation, or intersection, or symploke, of these dimensions. What Pseudo-Dionysius refers to as the place of mystical unknowing, where "being neither oneself nor someone else, one... knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing, "(58) Derrida locates within language, ac- P.555 companying every articulation, and present to it as its very condition. But, for Dogen, fully self-realized expression is a more radically immanent activity still. Rightly viewed, all entities articulated, in a self-liberating activity. "[T]here is a penetrating study," he says, "when water speaks of water.... Water liberates itself through water....[W]ater is the koan realized."(59) As one of the activities common to all human beings, language cannot be seen as necessarily obscuring the truth of our nature. Everything depends on grasping language rightly. That language cannot be rightly grasped apart from the exercise of language itself is surely a vivid instance of the paradoxical fullness and emptiness of our experience, of our representation of experience, and of our experience of representation. NOTES 1 - Robert Magliola, Derrida on the Mend (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1984), pp. 126, 128; David Loy, Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). 2 - Magliola, Derrida, p.126; David Loy, "The Cloture of Deconstruction: A Mahaayaana critique of Derrida, " International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1987): 77. 3 - An earlier version of this essay will appear as "Derrida and Dogen: Denegation and the Liberation of Discriminating Thought, " in Negation Theory: Negotiations and Contexts, ed. Daniel Fischlin (Kluwer, forthcoming). I would like to express my gratitude to David Loy for his comments on and suggestions for revision of this essay. 4 - Jacques Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking: Denials," in Languages of the Unsayable, ed. Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), pp.3-70. 5 - Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1969). 6 - Hee-Jin Kim, "'The Reason of Words and Letters': Dogen and Koan Language," in Dogen Studies, ed. William LaFleur (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985), pp. 54-82. 7 - Jacques Derrida, "Differance," in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), p.6. 8 - Jacques Derrida, "The Original Discussion of 'Differance' (1968)," in Derrida and Differance, ed. Davi Wood and Robert Bernasconi (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1988), p.84. P.556 9 - Jacques Derrida, "Letter to a Japanese Friend," in ibid., p. 3. 10 - Jacques Derrida, "Letter to John Leavey, " Semeia 23 (1982): 61. 11 - Jacques Derrida, "From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism without Reserve," in Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 271. 12 - See Derrida, "Original Discussion," p. 85; "Letter to Leavey," p. 61; "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 12. 13 - Pseudo-Dionysius, "Mystical Theology, " in Complete Works, ed. and trans. Colm Lubheid and Paul Rorem (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 1025A. 14 - Meister Eckhart, "Sermon 9," in The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense, ed. and trans. Edmund College, O.S.A., and Bernard McGinn (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), p. 257. 15 - Bernard McGinn, "Introduction" to ibid., p. 27. 16 - Eckhart, "Sermon 9," p. 256. 17 - Derrida, "Differance," p. 8. 18 - Ibid., p. 6. 19 - Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 4. 20 - Ibid., p. 9. 21 - Ibid. 22 - Ibid., p. 12. 23 - Ibid., p. 13. 24 - Jacques Derrida, "Cogito and the History of Madness," in Writing and Difference, p. 36. 25 - Pseudo-Dionysius, "Mystical Theology," 1001A. 26 - Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 25. 27 - Ibid., p. 24. 28 - Ibid., p. 25. 29 - Ibid., p. 26. 30 - Naagaarjuna, Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XXIV.18, in Lucid Exposition of the Middle Way: The Essential Chapters from the Prasannapadaa of Candrakiirti, trans. Mervyn Sprung (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) (hereafter MMK; Sprung), p. 238. 1 use Sprung's translation here because it was suggested to me by Peter Ebbatson of the University of Hamburg that Inada's rendition of this particular verse is unreliable. P.557 31 - Naagaarjuna, Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XXIV.8, 9, trans. Kenneth Inada (Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1970) (hereafter MMK; Inada), p. 146. 32 - Ibid., vv. 11, 12. 33 - Ibid., v. 10. 34 - MMK XXV. 20; Sprung, p. 260. 35 - Magliola, Derrida on the Mend, p. 96. 36 - Kim, "'Reason of Words and Letters,'" p. 79. 37 - Ibid., p. 56. 38 - Ibid., p. 57. 39 - Dogen, quoted in ibid. 40 - Dogen, quoted in ibid., p. 57. 41 - lbid., p. 58. 42 - Ibid., p. 54. 43 - Ibid., p. 59. 44 - Dogen, quoted in ibid., p. 60. 45 - Ibid., p. 80 n. 12. 46 - MMK XXIV.10; Inada, p. 146. 47 - Ibid., v. 9. 48 - Dogen, quoted in Takashi James Kodera, Dogen's Formative Years in China: An Historical Study and Annotated Translation of the Hokyo-ki (Boulder: Prajna Press, 1980), p. 58. 49 - Ibid., p. 61. 50 - Kim, "Reason of Words and Letters," p. 74. 51 - Kodera points out (P. 107) that while the two expressions are homophonous in Japanese, they are not in Chinese, the language in which Dogen would have heard them at the moment of his enlightenment experience. Though Dogen's grasp of Chinese was not extensive, it is too speculative, given usual perceptions of the immediacy of such enlightenment experiences--though, I would maintain for all that, not utterly implausible--to hypothesize a scenario which would have Dogen shifting from Chinese to Japanese, at this moment, as well as between the homophonous expressions in Japanese. It is, however, in keeping with the way we see Dogen working elsewhere with language to claim with some confidence that the shift from "mind's dust" to "body and mind" took place in later reflection and writing about his central "insight." Kodera claims P.558 "enormous consequence" for the difference between Ju-ching's "mind's dust" and Dogen's "body and mind," should the latter indeed be original to Dogen: "Because Dogen's words thus alleviate even the last resort for clinging and because they explain the liberation from the objects of clinging more exhaustively, it could be argued that they derive from his own answer to the 'Great Doubt,' which was only aided by Ju-ching's instruction regarding the 'dorpping the dust from the mind'" (p. 107). There are, then, grounds for claiming a considerable advance in subtlety in Dogen's grasp of nonduality, whether we locate this insight in his enlightenment experience itself, or in his subsequent reflection on and expression of the implications of this experience. In either case, language plays an intimate role in the nonduality of "dropping off body and mind." On the notion of "intimate (esoteric) words" (mitsugo) in Dogen's conception of language, see Thomas Kasulis, "The Incomparable Philosopher: Dogen on How to Read the Shobogenzo, " in Dogen Studies, ed. William LaFleur (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985) , pp. 83-98; I am also grateful to Professor Kasulis for our discussion of the issues above following the oral presentation of the present essay at the conference "Buddhism and Western Thought, " Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 3-5 July 1992. 52 - This is parallel to the sixth patriarch Hui-neng's implied criticism of Shen-hsiu in the Platform sutra. See The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, trans. Philip B. Yampolsky (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), pp. 129-132. 53 - In "Dogen Casts Off 'What': An Analysis of Shinjin Datsuraku," in A Dream within A Dream: Studies in Japanese Thought (New York: Peter Lang, 1991), Steven Heine argues that the more crucial notion is that of "casting off" (datsuraku), rather than of "mind's dust" or "body-mind" (shinjin). Though he argues this using a formulation, "What is this casting off?" that does not occur in this form in Dogen, his conclusions about the nondual functioning of language in Dogen's thought seem to me compatible with my own in the present essay. 54 - Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 25. 55 - Dogen, quoted in Kim, "Reason of Words and Letters," p. 57. 56 - Naagaarjuna, MMK XXIV.11; Inada, p. 146. 57 - Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 25. 58 - Pseudo-Dionysius, "Mystical Theology," 1001A. 59 - Dogen, quoted in Kim, "Reason of Words and Letters," p. 60.