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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 71 When I was a novice at Shogoji monastery, every day I passed by some framed calligraphy by the main doors of the dharma hall, excerpts from the Te n Examples of Suchness (junyoze). For weeks, I gave it no attention at all; the schedule was strict, and there was always somewhere else to be. Then one day I looked at it and almost jumped—every Chinese character was also a picture in itself. Instead of the two-stroke character for “person,” there was an intricate painting of an actual man; the character for body, intended in the text to mean “substance,” was crafted out of a butterfly in flight. I don’t know how many times I came back to this bit of writing on the wall, but every time I did, every time I looked closer, I found some small detail that had always been there, some subtle new way in which the text had always been revealing itself. When art is also a teaching, or when a teaching is presented as art, what are the possibilities, and limitations, of that expression? Can we express enlightenment visually? Can we facilitate enlightenment through an image? These questions are a starting point for how we might understand Buddhist art, and they go to the heart of Pamela Winfield’s Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism. This ambitious and scholarly work explores the refined aesthetics of two highly original teachers who revolutionized not only their own traditions but also Japanese Buddhism as a whole. Winfield selects Kukai (774–835), founder of the Shingon school, and Dogen (1200–1253), founder of the Soto school, to represent two very different views of enlightenment, and by extension, the artistic means of expressing them. But the contrasts between them are significant in part because of how much they share KOUN FRANZ is a Soto Zen priest living in Kumamoto, Japan. From 2006 to 2010, he served as resident priest of the Anchorage Zen Community in Alaska. In addition to temple work, he translates Buddhist writings from Japanese and publishes the blog Nyoho Zen. Reviewed by Koun Franz SEEING DHARMA ICONS AND ICONOCLASM IN JAPANESE BUDDHISM: Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment By Pamela D. Winfield Oxford University Press, 2013 240 pages; $27.95 REVIEWS Ajikan disk The sacred Sanskrit syllable “A” invokes the concept of anutpada, the unborn, signifying shunyata FROMICONSANDICONOCLASMINJAPANESEBUDDHISM