14/43 Kuge



Flowers in Space

Ku means “the sky,” or “space,” and ge means “flowers.” What are flowers in space? Master Dogen uses the words “flowers in space” to express all phenomena in this world. According to the ideas of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, we cannot be sure whether things really exist in this world, but we can be sure that there are phenomena which we can perceive with our senses. Therefore, for him, phenomena are not necessarily identified with reality although they do actually appear in this world. He refused to discuss the metaphysical problem of “real existence” and based his philosophy on human reason. The same idea was present in ancient Buddhism. Master Dogen thought that this skeptical attitude was important in considering the meaning of our life, and so in this chapter he explains the meaning of “flowers in space,” which in Buddhism expresses real phenomena.