Mushi dokugo, sometimes called jigo jisho, is a Japanese term used in Zen Buddhism which expresses the phenomenon known as "awakening alone, without a master."[1] It is "usually considered suspect since the risk of self-delusion or 'fake-Zen' is always high."[2] According to William M. Bodiford, "To guarantee that his experience of the truth of Buddhism is genuine, the Zen disciple relies upon his teacher to authenticate and formally acknowledge his enlightenment."[2] During the Edo period in Japan, there were a great many priests who proclaimed to be "self-enlightened." These included "such notables as the Myoshinji masters Daigu, Ungo, Isshi and the Sōtō priest Suzuki Shōsan."[3] Dōgen, the founder of the Sōtō school of Japan, acknowledged in his lifetime that such a phenomenon exists. In fact, he believed it is "the ultimate Zen principle that every practitioner had to actualize, even while studying under competent teachers and reading the sutras for a number of years."[4] However, "Dōgen provided this well known dictum with a specific methodological/hermeneutic key that allowed one to unlock the mystery of existence—that is, to open the self and the universe. That key amounted, in essence, to critical, reflective thinking as an integral part of meditation. Without this key, it was impossible to attain one's own salvific independence."[4] This "key" is found in the fascicles of the Shobogenzo.[4]

See also


  1. Faure, 48
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bodiford
  3. Haskel, 20
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kim, 122


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