Practice as a Work of Art: A Study of "Gabyō" in Dōgen's Buddhist Philosophy

Philosophy East and West 73 (1):45-65 (2023)
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Abstract:This article conducts a close textual analysis of "A Painting of a Rice Cake (Gabyō)," a key fascicle in the Shōbōgenzō that reveals the significance of artistic creation as a metaphor for realizational practice. By analyzing the multiple meanings of "gabyō," it is shown that artistic creation can clarify the nonduality of practice and enlightenment in Dōgen's thought, inasmuch as enlightenment is a constant practice as if making an evanescent and cocreative painting of enlightenment with the entire world as Buddha-nature. For Dōgen, enlightenment involves a deeply personal attunement to and a concrete actualization of the dharma that is not reducible to the purely theoretical understanding of Buddhist texts, and the metaphor of "painting rice cakes" demonstrates the importance of expressive activities in manifesting one's understanding of the dharma.



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Rika Dunlap
Mount St. Mary's University

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