Dōgen Kigen, Zenji
Dogen is recognized as a towering figure in the development of Zen. His name is linked especially to the practice of zazen—indeed, his way is known as exactly that, shikan taza, zazen alone.
Dogen did not deny the importance of religious ritual or devotion to Buddhas and bodhisattvas—indeed, he said the opposite: without a proper sense of gratitude and reverence, it is impossible to develop the buddha-mind. The truth is that in religion, ritual, and ethics, provided these are rooted in zazen, one is always in the midst of realizing the one buddha-nature (bussho; śūnyatā; tathāgata-garbha). This is most profoundly worked out in Dogen, who made a simple but all-important shift from the formula he inherited, and thereby solved ‘the Great Doubt’. Whereas it had been said that all things have the buddha-nature, he stated that all things are the buddha-nature. There is nothing to do but realize what you already are—and always have been. Dogen thus denied the reality of the experience of time, since there never can be a before or after in that which is without exception the same buddha-nature: being is time and time is being (uji). In all things and in all experiences, the buddha-nature can be realized, especially by not trying to realize it.
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