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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 73 in common: both traveled to China in search of answers they could not find in Japan; both returned to Japan as recog- nized patriarchs in their respective tradi- tions; both wrote prolifically (Dogen’s ninety-five fascicle Treasury of the True Dharma Eye is considered one of the seminal works in all of Japanese litera- ture; Kukai’s magnum opus, Treatise on the Ten Stages of the Development of Mind, is so lengthy that it has never been fully translated into any language); and both used their newfound author- ity to craft something original in Japan, carving out a subtle new lexicon for the language of realization. The schools these two teachers founded represent the two Buddhist aes- thetics most familiar to Western readers, with Soto representing the larger Zen world and Shingon standing in for its cousin traditions, the Vajrayana schools that evolved in Tibet. Both schools—as Winfield puts it, “arguably two of the most image-oriented sects in Buddhist history”—expand their vision of art (in the sense of iconography) into the larger realm of form (in the arrange- ment of objects, in ritual, in dress, in movement) and embrace that form as a teaching, complete in itself. In Shingon, and in Soto, much of what you get is what you see. Winfield’s juxtaposition of Dogen and Kukai is a somewhat artificial construct; both monks explored and expressed visions of realization that defy easy cat- egorization. But contrasting the two also REVIEWS serves a purpose, providing the reader with a vocabulary for two compelling views of religious art: one holographic, and one for which Winfield coins the term “holochronic.” Winfield chooses to characterize Kukai’s vision of enlightenment—and its corresponding representations—as being holographic. If you have ever squinted at a mandala, getting lost in the layers upon layers of detail, the bud- dhas surrounding buddhas and envelop- ing buddhas seemingly into infinity, you already have a sense of what this can mean. Kukai’s version of esoteric prac- tices “places unprecedented value upon the material forms of the universe,” writes Winfield. He “fundamentally envisions enlightenment as a reciprocal union of self and world in unobstructed space... Dainichi, the Great Sun Bud- dha, is concretely visualized as a dis- tinctly luminous mental object in the sphere of the meditator’s imagination.” That is, enlightenment—like the object of one’s meditation—is located in three- dimensional space. In exploring Kukai, Winfield spends considerable time dissecting the famous Diamond and Womb World mandalas, which serve two critical functions in Shingon design and ritual: they pres- ent “architectural floorplans that lay out what the realm of enlightenment looks like before and after enlighten- ment”; and they “condense and chan- nel Dainichi’s macrocosmic power into the ritual hall, microcosmically make his palatial environment present in the space, automatically transform it into a pure land, and hence anyone in its vicin- ity into a Buddha.” For Kukai, representations of enlightenment, rendered correctly, have immeasurable power—more than that, they play an essential role, rendering the space where that power is mani- fest. (According to Kukai, even text can have these same effects. I had no idea at the time, but the intricate pic- ture-calligraphy I passed every day at The Diamond World mandala, one of the central mandalas in the Shingon tradition WWW.BUJINKAN-FRANCE.NET