Objective Reality and Subjective Reality are Coessential Elements of a Single Unified Reality


It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

~Jonathan Swift


Do not misunderstand Buddhism by believing the erroneous principle ‘a special tradition outside the scriptures.’

~Zen Master Dogen, Shobogenzo, Bukkyo


The criticism of specific doctrines and literary expressions has frequently been superficially interpreted as denouncing doctrinal and literary pursuits generally – not excepting the doctrines and literature of Zen/Buddhism itself!

Although, as already noted, the various critiques in the classic literature cannot be ascribed to Zen’s disparagement of literary or doctrinal activities generally, their appearance is not without any general significance. For example, two significant general truths clearly demonstrated by the variety of criticisms in the classic literature are that:

  • Zen recognizes some views and doctrines as ‘right’ and others as ‘wrong.’
  • Zen recognizes dualism – the ‘wrong’ view most often and most fervently disputed – as a seriously pernicious disease.

The reason for Zen’s rejection of dualism is most comprehensively presented by the corollary Buddhist teachings of emptiness (sunyata) and interdependence (dependent origination; pratitiya-samutpada). The primary insight of these teachings is the nondual nature of reality – that is the interdependence of all things, beings, and events in and of space and time (existence-time; uji). Of the many insights revealed by these teachings, three of particular relevance here are:

  • There is no independently existent objective reality.
  • There is no independently existent subjective reality.
  • The world (objective reality) and the self (subjective reality) are coessential elements of a single unified reality.

Excerpt from,  Zen Cosmology: Dogen’s Contribution to the Search for a New Worldview