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163 Becoming One with the Dao Meditation in Daode jing and Dōgen E. LESLIE WILLIAMS The Daode jing 道德經 (Classic of the Way and Its Power) is considered a product of the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE). Given the fact that it is often cited in late 4th and 3rd century BCE writings, including Zhuangzi 莊子 and Hanfeizi 韓非子, a 5th to 4th century BCE origin is reasonable (Ames and Hall 2003, 1-2; Henricks 1989, xi; Okudaira 1996, 20; Roth 1999, 186). Attributed to the sage Laozi 老子, the Daode jing is an essential text of the Daoist canon. Even though the theoretical aspects of this work have been noted by a number of scholars (Ames and Hall 2003, Cleary 1994; Henricks 1989; Henricks 2000; Kohn and LaFargue 1998; Kohn 2001; Lynn 1999; Okudaira 1996; Pas 2006; Wing 1986), it also exhibits a more practice-oriented facet. Approached from the perspective of meditative practice, the Daode jing yields a rich store of understandings regarding meditation and the development of intuitive powers. One essential teaching is Dao 道, the Way. The Way is a transcendent force that underlies all life and, in an ‚intentionless‛ (Dumoulin 1994, 168) and impersonal fashion, unfailingly coordinates the patterns of nature (Kohn 2001, 19-20; Williams 2007, 64). Essentially, it is emptiness . At its most basic, Chan Buddhism’s ideal of Buddha-nature (Skt.: tathāgata; Chin.: foxing 佛性; Jap.: busshō) is also absolute emptiness (kong 空) and impermanence (wuchang 無常) (Waddell and Abe 2002, 69, 72-75, 78, 81, 97-98). The goal of Daoist practice is realization of and unity with 164 / Journal of Daoist Studies 7 (2014) the Way; in Chan (Zen) Buddhist training, the goal is to achieve enlightenment —to directly perceive and tap into the reality of Buddha-nature (Waddell and Abe 2002, 73)—a state that the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng, calls ‚nonduality‛ and ‚no thought‛ (Dumoulin 1994, 134, 144). The Japanese monk Dōgen Kigen 道元希玄 (1200-1253) journeyed to the Southern Song empire and received Chan training in the Caodong school 禪宗曹洞派 (Dumoulin 1994,261, 374; Kodera 1980, 1, 51-56; Waddell and Abe 2002, ix-x). After he obtained his enlightenment experience and certification, he brought Caodong practice to Japan, where it became known as the Sōtō school of Zen. In his treatise, the Fukanzazengi 普勧坐 禅儀 (Universal Promotion of the Principles of Seated Meditation; dat. 1227), he outlines six essential aspects of meditative practice: 1) sitting in a quiet room, 2) stopping all thinking, 3) turning the light inward, 4) maintaining an upright posture, 5) sustaining gentle, controlled breathing , and 6) preserving single-minded effort to become one with the Way. Although recorded a millennium and a half earlier than Dōgen’s tract, the Daode jing admirably addresses all six essential elements of his practice of seated meditation. A Quiet Room: Essential for Meditation First, Dōgen stipulates, ‚Seated meditation is best practiced in a quiet room.‛ Daode jing 26 indicates that stillness delivers mastery over agitation . Citing the Yijing (Book of Changes), Wang Bi 王弼 (226-249), the Three Kingdoms scholar from the state of Wei, comments: ‚The source of Heaven and Earth is the most quiescent nothingness. If earthly activity ceases, the original essence of Heaven and Earth can be seen‛ (Lou 1980, 32; Lynn 1999, 99). Suggesting the need for a quiet space in which to meditate , the Daode jing similarly states, ‚Stillness triumphs over hotness. Simplicity and tranquility will set straight the world‛ (ch. 45). Wang Bi points out that stillness is the point of origin: ‚By means of emptiness and stillness, one perceives the great return. All that exists begins in emptiness. Action begins in stillness. Even though All Things move and Williams, ‚Becoming One with the Dao‛ / 165 act, in the end, they all return to emptiness and stillness‛ (Lynn 1999, 75).1 Finally, the Daode jing offers this injunction: ‚Block the exchange. Close the gates. Dull the sharpness. Disperse the confusion . . . This is called Profound Identification‛ (xuantong 同玄; ch. 56). This above all seems to most clearly indicate the necessity of practicing in a space where quietness can promote the practice of seated meditation. Thomas Cleary further posits that this section denotes the ‚switching off or standing apart...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1941-5524
Pages
pp. 163-178
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Open Access
No
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