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Zen RitualStudies of Zen Theory in Practice$
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Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304671

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.001.0001

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 Zazen as an Enactment Ritual

 Zazen as an Enactment Ritual

Chapter:
(p.167) 5 Zazen as an Enactment Ritual
Source:
Zen Ritual
Author(s):

Taigen Dan Leighton (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.003.0006

Chapter 5 addresses what many today would consider the central ritual of Zen—zazen—or seated meditation. Although zazen is commonly understood by way of instrumental logic as a means or method for attaining enlightenment, from the Sōtō Zen perspective initiated by Dōgen and featured in this essay, the order of cause and effect is reversed—zazen is “the practice‐realization of totally culminated awakening.” In developing this approach to meditation, Leighton traces its roots to Vajrayana teachings that were influential not simply in Japanese Shingon, but also in Nichiren, Tendai, Jōdo, and Zen. Upon that Buddhist foundation, the essay develops the “unity of practice and realization” by showing how this theme appears in Dōgen's instructions for meditation ritual (Eihei shingi), in his extended essays (Shōbōgenzō), and in direct teachings to his monks (Eihei kōroku). The essay claims that when meditation is taken as “the expression or function of buddhas,” rather than as a technique of spiritual acquisition, an emphasis on meditative awareness in everyday life is made possible.

Keywords:   Sōtō Zen, Dōgen, zazen, seated meditation, meditation

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