Phenomenology and Zen

In their introduction to Dogen’s Eihei Shingi (the collection of his writings about the organization and standard practices in a Buddhist monastery), Leighton and Okumura explain that the practice of zazen ‘promotes active attentiveness to our present life experience just as it is.’ Zen monastic life is ‘directed at helping practitioners together to embody and actualize this awareness in every aspect of ordinary life’ (Leighton and Okumura 1996, 16).

Phenomenology (and philosophy), as Peirce described it, begins with this same ‘attentiveness to our present life experience,’ but then proceeds to a description or analysis of it, with the goal of articulating what is essential to any possible experience, quite apart from anything peculiar to any individual subject of that experience. In other words, it generalizes from present experience to Experiencing. The formulations arrived at in this way furnish ‘fundamental principles’ to philosophy and other sciences (EP 2:258) in their quest for truth.

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