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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
REVIEWS Shogoji was, in fact, his brushwork.) Sacred images serve to “spatialize time,” establishing consecrated spaces in which the practitioner can engage with “all times, everywhere.” Mandalas, as well as visual objects of meditation, create (or re-create) the physical location of enlightenment. Unlike Kukai, Dogen held cynical views about art and its relationship to practice; where Kukai saw images as powerful agents of enlightenment, Reproduction of Dogen’s shisho transmission certificate Dogen saw the ever-present danger that the signifier might be mistaken for what it signified. To illustrate Dogen’s views on the function of art, then, Winfield chooses a work that many might not consider art at all: the shisho, one of the three basic documents of transmission. The shisho is a lineage chart, but its arrangement makes it much more than a mere list or history; all of one’s spiritual ancestors are arranged in a circle, the first name (Mahakashapa) and the last (oneself) sit side by side, and a red line with no beginning, no end, and no direction weaves through Buddha’s name and through all the names around the circle, back to the Buddha, into another circle at the center, and on. This, according to Winfield, is a holochronic expression of realization, a vision of enlightenment as multidimensional time. In Dogen’s view, and in this document, lineage does not happen one generation at a time. The transmission of the shisho is concurrent, an encounter of all buddhas with all buddhas, a lineage that moves forward in time from the Buddha to oneself, backward in time from oneself to the Buddha, and in every other direction, from every ancestor to every ancestor, simultaneously. Though far removed from conventional views of what art is (it’s essentially a legal document) or even what “audience” is (theoretically, such a document is only ever seen by three people: one’s teacher, oneself, and one’s student when it is time to copy it), this, for Dogen, is a realized visual expression—one in which everything is happening at once, and only one thing is happening. Where Kukai spatializes time, Dogen temporalizes space. Or, as Winfield puts it, “Kukai describes universes within universes, Dogen describes times within times.” Where Kukai’s spatial imagery renders the world with a vocabulary of nouns, Dogen’s interpenetrating temporality “unfolds via verbs.” One could easily get lost in these mazes of space and time, but Winfield guides the reader with apparent ease. However, it’s fair to say that the greatest contribution of Icons and Iconoclasm is not even related to the complexities of artistic expression; rather, it is the introduction of Kukai (about whom very little has been written in English) to a wider Western audience, complete with real tools for placing his teachings on the continuum of Buddhist thought. Kukai’s resumé and the depth of his aesthetic are at times astonishing. And 74 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2013 FROM ICONS AND ICONOCLASM IN JAPANESE BUDDHISM