Dogs in Dialogue
Citations from Commentary on Dogen Zenji's
DOTOKU 道得 (Expression)
Eihei Dōgen: Mystical Realist, by Hee-Jin Kim
(Chapter Three: Activity, Expression & Understanding)
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 THE RANGE of the functions of language (in its broadest possible sense as Dogen understood it) became coextensive with that of human activities. For Dogen the false separation of words and activities was closely related to the impoverishment of religion and philosophy; language and activity were inseparably one is his thought, as we shall soon see.
 Dogen's view of expression (dotoku) exemplified his dynamic view of Chinese language and symbols, and his originality. Dotoku consists of two characters: do (道), "the Way" and "to say," and toku (得), "to attain" and "to be able." Thus it signifies both actuality and possibility of expression — in other words, expression and expressibility. What is expressed intimates what is yet to be expressed — it is the Way. It also implies the understanding and grasping of the Way by expression. Furthermore, it expresses not what humans express so much as what the Way expresses.
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 [T]he following admonition is given [by Dogen in the Dotoku]:
  Do not loathe wordlessness for it is expression par excellence.
 Regarding the problem of expression, Dogen guided us to not only take into consideration semantic possibilities in metaphors, images, gestures, and moral and aesthetic activities in the human realm, but also those possibilities in the activities of nonhuman and nonliving realms.
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(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
(Gender Inclusive) STUDIES OF THE WAY (學道) | (INDEX)
95-Fascicle SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings