[Buddha-l] Re: buddha-l Digest, Vol 24, Issue 2

curt curt at cola.iges.org
Mon Feb 5 13:38:56 MST 2007

Elihu Smith wrote:
>> I have Faure's "Visions of Power" at home - but
>> every time I try to read 
>> it I get a headache. It seems to be claiming that
>> the Japanese Soto 
>> school has been extremely mystical from its
>> beginnings and that Keizan's 
>> Zen in particular was highly mystical and
>> emphatically "religious". 
>> There is a whole chapter devoted to dreams, by the
>> way. If this view of 
>> Dogen's school is accurate, then receiving
>> posthumous transmission from 
>> him in a dream would seem to be perfectly
>> reasonable.
>> - Curt
> This is a misunderstanding of a number of important
> issues in Ch'an, Soto Zen, Keizen and Faure. Let me
> say again, Dharma Transmission in a dream is not in
> Dogen's tradition. Rather than tease all of the issues
> out, I will emphasize that face-to-face Dharma
> Transmission is of major importance in Japanese
> Buddhism and particularly in Soto School, though there
> are issues and disagreements regarding mutiple
> Transmissions. Keizen's incorporation of esoteric
> Buddhism, including Shingon, and work with dreams, as
> part of his teaching does not include dream Dharma
> Transmission, especially given his seminal work
> "Denkoroku." Some of these issues are played out in
> controversies with the Daruma School, Menzan, Manzan
> and Tenkei Denson, and the Indian and early Chinese
> Ch'an lineage developed in the late T'ang and early
> Sung Dynasty in China. For details on Japan, see the
> excellent "Soto Zen in Medieval Japan" By William M.
> Bodiford. University of Hawaii Press and "Did Dogen Go
> to China?" by Steven Heine, which is just a drop in
> the bucket of this literature.
Depending on one's view of "reality" (and I am not being facetious in 
the least here), posthumous transmission in a dream is obviously 
"face-to-face Dharma Transmission". To me it sounds anachronistic to 
insist that "face-to-face" transmission excludes dream-transmission, 
because it sounds like a distinction is being made that would probably 
not have been made by Dogen or Keizan. In fact, unless one accepts a 
crudely materialistic view, having Dogen appear to you in a dream and 
give you Transmission could be seen as rather more impressive than 
receiving Transmission from someone alive right now. At the same time, I 
would tend to disbelieve someone who claimed to have received 
transmission from Dogen in a dream, but couldn't find a single living 
Master to do likewise.

Reading the Denkoroku gives me the impression that it was written by 
someone who would accept the idea of dream-transmission as a perfectly 
reasonable idea.

- Curt

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