漢字は文字か|Is Kanji a letter, or an object?

道元はたびたび漢文の文法を無視する。たとえば「諸法実相」のまともな読みは「諸法実相」で、物事のほんとうの姿という意味だが、道元は「諸法」と「実相」を切り離してこう言う:

実相の諸法に相見すといふは、春は花にいり、人ははるにあふ。|正法眼蔵・第四十三

人は花によって春に逢う。春という抽象的なものに直接は逢えない。同様に、実相という「春」は諸法という「花」に結合=相見することによってはじめて現れる。道元は別のところでそれを「現成公案」と呼んだ。公案とはイデア、抽象理念である。それを身に現成し、心に現成し、言葉に現成し、山河に現成する。その技をきわめる道こそ仏道なのだ。

漢語をそんなふうに扱っていいのかずっと疑問に思っていたが、落合淳思『漢字の成り立ち』(2014) を読んで思いつくことがあった。文字以前、人は対象を言葉で名付け、やがてその名を表わす記号として文字をつくった–––これはメソポタミアやフェニキアの話。黄河平原ではちょっとちがう。殷では、甲骨に生じた亀裂のパターンにそれぞれ名を付けた。亀裂はやがて単純化と体系化を経て漢字と呼ばれることになる。だがそれは名を後から表わす記号ではない。名より先に出現した亀裂=紋様そのものなのだ。だとすれば、漢語があってそれを紋様に記録しているのではなく、紋様があってそれを漢語で読んでいるということだ。読み方は漢流でなければならないという必然性はない。別の読み方を排除する根拠はないわけだ。

道元は直観的にそれを知っていたと考えるしかない。そして諸法(物事)と実相を一旦分離し、有限な事物に無限の実相を展開する技をひたすら磨き、伝えようと正法眼蔵を書いたのだ。

 

Dōgen frequently violates Chinese grammar. For example, “諸法実相” ––– the reality (実相) of all things (諸法) ––– is transformed into “the reality and all things” and then recombined with each other:

The reality meets all things in the same way as spring comes to all flowers, where people meet spring. | Ch.43 Shōbōgenzō

Aside from the issue how Dōgen considers the idea of ‘reality’, an abstract entity like that needs to connect to ‘things’ to touch and feel just as spring meets us via perfume of flowers, songs of birds, or the feel of the wind. Connection or actualisation of the reality is what the way of buddha is about.

On the persisting question whether the Dōgen’s seemingly aberrant reading of Chinese text can be justified or not, archeologist Atsushi Ochiai hinted me a possible answer through his recent book “漢字の成り立ち (The origin of Kanji)”. In ancient times, people gave names to objects. After a while, they invented letters to write the names down on papyrus or clay plates ––– that is the story in Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean. China had a slightly different story; they gave names to objects and cracks on objects like shells and bones to perform prediction. The shapes of cracks were then systematized and simplified to become the early form of Kanji, Chinese characters. That is to say, Kanji is not the written label for the name of an object. It is an object, a linear object that goes back to cracks on ancient shamans’ shells and bones. Accordingly, the reading of Kanji is not necessarily under the syntactic control because syntax belongs to language, not to objects. In other words, Kanji can be independent and separable from its language.

Dōgen might have intuitively known the nature of Kanji; against Chinese normal syntax, he disconnected ‘things’ and ‘the reality’ before rejoining them to attain actualization of the limitless reality on limited things just around us.

 

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