The Existential Moment: Rereading Dōgen's Theory of Time


This article argues for a new way to interpret Dōgen's theory of time, reading the notion of uji as momentary existence, and shows that many notorious difficulties usually associated with the theory can be overcome with this approach, which is also more compatible with some fundamental assumptions of Buddhist philosophy (the non-durational existence of dharmas, the arbitrariness of linguistic designations and the concepts they point to, the absence of self-nature in beings, etc.). It is also shown how this reading leads to an innovative treatment of the concept of selfhood, viewing the self as the active openness of an existent to the surrounding world, with which it is able to identify through a mutual relation with other existents within the existential moment. This argument is supported by an alternative translation in the "momentary mode" of those extracts of the fascicle that introduce or elaborate on Dōgen's key concepts.