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Time, Being, and Liberation in Dōgen and Heidegger
Dates: May 26, 2019 - May 30, 2019
Days: Sun - Thu (4 Nights)

Instructor(s): William Edelglass, Mu Soeng

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Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, the Japanese Zen master Dōgen describes how the personal self and the phenomenal world are understood in the movement of time. According to Dōgen, time is not somehow “objective” and “outside of us.” And our own being, and other beings, are also not “objective” entities. Impermanence is not something that happens to us; the passing of time is our very being. For Dōgen, meditation practice is in part awakening to our true nature as time-being: ever unfolding, ever changing. These provocative thoughts were taken up by some Western philosophers in the 20th century. Most famously, Heidegger describes human beings not as entities, but as an awareness that is an opening, a clearing in which the world and meaning arise. And, as with Dōgen, Heidegger argues that time is the most basic category for understanding human being. To understand oneself and live as an entity, with a particular nature and function, in Heidegger’s account, is to be unfree. Freedom, for Heidegger and Dōgen, is made possible through affective and cognitive means of undermining our sense of ourselves as things in the world. We will begin by looking at the broader context of thinking about human being and time–in Buddhist and Western traditions. Then, we will study these ideas in Dōgen and Heidegger, how they were integrated by recent Japanese Zen thinkers in the Kyoto School, and explore the liberating possibilities of rethinking time, being, meditation, and philosophy as practice.

Note: This program is for graduates of the Nalanda program.

  • Mu Soeng is Resident Scholar at BCBS. He trained in the (Korean) Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. He is the author of Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen (Tradition and Teachers); The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World; Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen; and The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra.

  • William Edelglass is Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Marlboro College in Vermont. He has published widely in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, environmental philosophy, and 20th-century European philosophy. He has taught in a variety of settings, including a federal prison in New York, a Tibetan refugee settlement in Nepal, and for many years as a wilderness guide at Outward Bound. Previously, William was at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, India, where he taught Western philosophy to Tibetan monks.