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Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo by Dogen Dogen and Kazuaki Tanahashi (Shambhala) represents the collective San Francisco Zen Center community endeavor at translating and understanding the work in its entirety. It lacks the scholarly extras of  BDK English Tripitaka Series but used in conjunction with the Standard translation can offer essential insight about what the text is getting at. below the table of contents I offer examples of translations of chapter 1 (of the 75 chapter version) or 3 (of the 95 chapter version) The Genjo-Koan so one can compare for oneself.

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shobo Genzo, in Japanese) is a monumental work, considered to be one of the profoundest expressions of Zen wisdom ever put on paper, and also the most outstanding literary and philosophical work of Japan. It is a collection of essays by Eihei Dogen (1200–1253), founder of Zen’s Soto school.

Kazuaki Tanahashi and a team of translators that represent a Who’s Who of American Zen have produced a translation of the great work that combines accuracy with a deep understanding of Dogen’s voice and literary gifts. The finely produced, two-volume boxed set includes a wealth of materials to aid understanding, including maps, lineage charts, a bibliography, and an exhaustive glossary of names and terms—and, as a bonus, the most renowned of all Dogen’s essays, “Recommending Zazen to All People.” More


Dogen on Meditation And Thinking: A Reflection on His View of Zen by Hee-Jin Kim (State University of New York Press) (Hardcover) Thirty years after the publication of his classic work Dogen Kigen--Mystical Realist, Hee-Jin Kim reframes and recasts his understanding of Dogen's Zen methodology in this new book. Through meticulous textual analyses of and critical reflections on key passages primarily from Dogen's Shobogenzo, Kim explicates hitherto underappreciated aspects of Dogen's religion, such as the ambiguity of delusion and also of enlightenment, intricacies of negotiating the Way, the dynamic functions of emptiness, the realizational view of language, nonthinking as the essence of meditation, and a multifaceted conception of reason. Kim also responds to many recent developments in Zen studies that have arisen in both Asia and the West, especially Critical Buddhism. He brings Dogen the meditator and Dogen the thinker into relief. Kim's study clearly demonstrates that language, thinking, and reason constitute the essence of Dogen's proposed Zen praxis, and that such a Zen opens up new possibilities for dialogue between Zen and contemporary thought. This fresh assessment of Dogen's Zen represents a radical shift in our understanding of its place in the history of Buddhism.

"Kim has been very successful in providing novel, innovative means of interpreting Dogen's approach to such seminal issues as meditative thinking, nonduality, illusion, language, logical thinking, and realization. A new generation of readers will be eager to learn from the `grand master' of the field and will benefit from his insightful analysis of key passages from Dogen's collected works. This book will take its place among other prominent philosophical studies of Dogen by Masao Abe, Joan Stambaugh, and Gereon Kopf." -- Steven Heine, author of Dogen and the Koan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shobogenzo Texts

Excerpt: It is axiomatic in Zen Buddhism that delusion and enlightenment constitute a nondual unity (meigo ichinyo). For the sake of argument, let me formulate this dictum: Enlightenment is construed as seeing things as they really are rather than as they appear; it is a direct insight into, and discernment of, the nature of reality that is apprehended only by wisdom, which transcends and is prior to the activity of discriminative thought. In this view, delusion is defined as all that is opposed to enlightenment.

The problem with this reading is manifold: (r) There is an inherent tendency to bifurcate between "things as they really are" and "things as they appear to be"; (2) its corollary is that there is an unbridgeable chasm between insight/discernment and discrimination; (3) "seeing" is conceived predominantly in epistemological, intuitive, and mystical terms; (4) the pre- or extradiscriminative state of mind is privileged in such a way that creative tensions between delusion and enlightenment are all but lost; (5) nonduality in the unity is virtually the neutralization of all discriminations and thus has little or nothing to encourage and nurture duality as suchthat is, discriminative thinking, intellect, language, and reasonin the scheme of Zen's soteriological realization; and (6) the implications for Zen discourse and practice, especially ethics, are seriously damaging. What we see here is a formulaic understandingand misunderstanding at thatof the nonduality of delusion and enlightenment.

On the other hand, the ultimate paradox of Zen liberation is said to lie in the fact that one attains enlightenment only in and through delusion itself, never apart from it. Strange as that may sound, enlightenment has no exit from delusion any more than delusion has an exit from enlightenment. The two notions need, are bound by, and interact with one another. That said, the interface of delusion and enlightenment in their dynamic, nondual

unity is extremely complex, elusive, and ambiguous. Since they are the two foci' of realization, we might ask how they interplay with one another. Should and can enlightenment overcome delusion? What does "overcoming" mean? In this chapter, I would like to examine aspects of how Dogen treats delusion and enlightenment in their nonduality, with the foregoing pointers and issues in mind. In my view, Dogen deeply delved into this profound mystery.

In these six short chapters, I have presented some salient facets of Dogen's thought on authentic practice, which was his paramount concern in his praxis-oriented Zen. In this regard, his emphasis was on the reconstructive use of such notions as duality in relation to nonduality and dependent origination in relation to emptiness. His thrust was as much on engagement in duality as it was on nonattachment to duality. Thus Dogen located his religious method and hermeneutics in the clear understanding and responsible use of language, thinking, and reason. The present work's primary purpose has been to explicate such a methodological/hermeneutic orientation and its significance. This orientation, as I see it, was the common thread running through Dogen's Shobogenzo (as well as his other writings), although it evolved throughout his monastic career before reaching its final form later in lifemost notably in relation to his notion of nonthinking.

Authentic practice in its simplest terms consists of dialectically negotiating the Waybetween nonduality and duality, between the unitive vision of all things and the revalorized world of daily life, between enlightenment and practice, and between ultimate truth and worldly truth. All of these pairs are the foci in the process of one's realization. The authenticity in question does not lie in assent to any beliefs or conformity to any rules and principles, but rather in living dynamically and dialogically through the interplay of those salvific foci in any given situation.

Through such a highly unorthodox formulation of Zen method and hermeneutics, Dogen (1) offers a new direction in Zen praxis with a number of important implications, and (2) opens up new possibilities for creative dialogue between Zen and contemporary thought. By way of concluding this present work, I would like to make a few final observations on these two points.


1. Dogen's instructions on seated meditation were brief and minimalist. He did not elaborate on meditation techniques or meditative experiences in any detail, nor did he attempt to guide his disciples through graduated stages of meditative and spiritual progression, as we often see in some religious traditions within and without Buddhism. I do not attribute his peculiar instructional style to any insensitivity toward his disciples' soteric welfare. Rather, his approach emerged from his foremost desire to provide them with fundamental principlesspelled out in terms of language, thinking, and reasonwith which each could grapple with his/her individual soteric project, thereby realizing his/her own Zen. Dogen demonstrated this himself by writing the fascicles of the Shobogenz.

To illustrate, consider "enlightenment-by-oneself without a teacher" (mushi dokugo), 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.1 Dogen provided this well-known dictum with a specific methodological/hermeneutic key that allowed one to unlock the mystery of existencethat 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.

Thus, however much a meditative experience might strike one as indubitably immediate and certain, that experience alone does not warrant a person the authenticity of practice. Through his notion of nonthinking, Dogen was equally critical of the same self-aggrandizing potentiality of wisdom. Meditation and wisdom alike had to be subjected to critical scrutiny and reassessed in the changing situation. Accordingly, he underscored that Zen which is reexpressed and reconceived by each individual practitioner and by each generation, according to different conditions and needs. Zen's so-called fierce individualism is, in this way, firmly grounded in one's existential situation: Each practitioner must add his/her own details. Nevertheless, within the purview of his egalitarianism, Dogen's demand was uncompromisingly elitist.

This methodological characteristic was also a direct challenge to Zen's famously transgressive, antiauthoritarian, and iconoclastic temperament. This is not to say that it was no longer usable or relevant, but rather that it had to be informed and tempered by concerns with the temporality of existence-time (uji). For Dogen, the matter had less to do with liberation from intellectual constraints, and more to do with the engagement in the existential predicament. His stance, therefore, was far from a disclaimer of reveling in playfulness of image making or in religious, mythopoeic imagination.

Quite the contrary. For instance, when Dogen discussed Dharma-nature's reason (hossho no dori), he juxtaposed it with Dharma-nature's samadhi (hossho zammai). Reason and samadhi went together in Dharma-nature. Traditional Zen's iconoclasm was thus empowered, rather than disowned, by Dogen's insistence on the bold, yet humble, use of images (icons) as a necessary tool of authentic thinking. Herein we find Dogen's egalitarianism unscathed despite his elitist demand, as noted above.

2. For all the enormous contrasts between Dogen's world and our world (filled with incredible scientific achievements, virtual reality, insatiable consumerism, and so forth), many of us are still struck by his remarkably modern sensibility to language and critical thinking. Yet we must nevertheless realize that his entire religio-philosophical thought operates by way of his thoroughly praxis-oriented Zen soteriology and eclectic Mahayana worldview, as well as through the ethos of medieval Japan in the thirteenth century. For this reason, promises and perils always lurk in any genuine attempt to engage in dialogue with Dogen.

He, more often than not, challenges us on many fronts to think through a great number of assumptions, for example, with respect to language and reality, matter and spirit, and self and world. To cite just one example, he issued a strong warning against the anthropocentric conception of human language. For Dogen, human language was neither more nor less than one of the infinite varieties of language (monji) and expression (dotoku) in the universe. Despite his insistence on the imperativeness of human language in his soteric project, Dogen never lost sight of the larger picture in which human and nonhuman beings engaged in an ongoing communion through their respective languages/expressions. Farfetched as it may seem, this was his vision of the universe in which all beingsliving and nonlivingengage in a shared salvific project, through their "vast, giddy karmic consciousnesses." In this view, Dogen's linguistic stance cannot and should not be facilely equated to, or explained away by, certain modern philosophical views and notions.

Incidentally, although the notion of "the grand narrative," or "the grand picture" if you will, as in the foregoing vision, is in disrepute in our postmodern age, it was quite legitimate, and even necessary, in Dogen's linguistic universe. For this reason, the whole picture of Buddha-nature, for instance, remained pivotal in his soteriology despite all the problems alleged by its critics. Remember that in his Zen, Buddha-nature, for all its seeming grandeur, is thoroughly impermanent. Yet precisely for this reason, it is able to orient and catalyze authentic practice in a manner most appropriate to its soteric workings.

Now, let me briefly touch upon the ethical aspect of Dogen's religion. Contrary to the view of some critics who hold that Dogen had little or no social ethic, I would argue, as I did in my writings, that his monastic way of life was as socially engaged as, say, Nichiren's or Shinran's religions in Kamakura Japan. It is high time for us to appreciate the social significance of Dogen's monasticism. At the very least, even silence and quietude in the monastic life can be regarded as the forms of social activism.

Having said that, I would further contend that we do not find social ethics of a modern variety in Dogenthat is, the systemic and ideological critique of institutions and policies with respect to the state and society at large, and even the global community, in terms of such socioeconomic and political problems as poverty, race, class, family, violence, and human rights. This is the typical modern sensibilitybroadly called social justicethat arose largely along with the Industrial Revolution, although closely allied ideologically with the Enlightenment which itself has now been severely challenged by postmodern critique. Our modern sensibility, still in constant evolution, was simply nonexistent in Dogen's age and culture. Such a "disadvantage" was the case not only with Japan but with all premodern traditions, including religions. For better or worse, such an awareness has had a tremendous impact on all the traditional religions throughout the world. Thus in this particular respect, Dogen was a product of medieval Japan. To a great extent, his limitation was Japanese culture's limitation at the time.

However, this observation should by no means minimize the enormous potential of Dogen's seminal methodological/hermeneutic ideas for personal and social ethics today. In fact, I would suggest, by following Friedrich Schleiermacher's wise counsel, that it is our obligationwhether we are Zen practitioners or notto understand Dogen's insights better than he did himself. From this perspective, his religio-philosophical groundwork not only offers a new direction in Zen praxis but also opens up new possibilities for creative dialogue between Zen and contemporary thought, especially regarding social ethics, to which modern Zen by and large has been sadly impervious.

We live in a profoundly crisis-ridden age in human history. In an apocalyptic world, we all seem helplessly caught between despair and hope. What is hope? What can we hope for? Is there any hope for hope at all? These are the questions we struggle with today. For Dogen's part, he quietly calls for authentic practice.



Refining Your Life

by Zen Master Dogen,

translated by Kosho Uchiyama and Thomas Wright


$10.95, paper; 122 pages



A Translation of Eihei Shingi

by Dogen

commentary by Taigen Daniel Leighton, Shohaku Okumura,

translation by Taigen Daniel Leighton,


$19,95, paper; 272 pages, references, notes, index


In the 13th century Dogen wrote a practical manual of instructions for the Zen cook. In it he outlined the pathless path of mindfulness, of realization is the same as cooking well and with what is at hand in the monastery. This work is one of the more popular works by this great Zen master who founded the Soto tradition in Japan. The Eihei Shingi is a more difficult work, just now available in translation. It importance is that Dogen outlines his views of monastic life and discipline as it relates to the practice of meditation. The work is fully annotated by an American Zen student. Like all of Dogen’s writings there are many pungent passages. Practical koans are discussed with a focus on community life as well as many teaching stories as poignant now as when recorded. Recommended.


A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life that Matters

Bernard Glassman, Rick Fields

Bell Tower

$20.00, hardcover; 171 pages



Reading: Bernard Glassman

Shambhala Lion Editions

Price: $18.00, 2 cassettes audio book about 3 hours, abridged

subject: Social Work Zen


According to American Zen master Roshi Bernard Glassman, one of the most useful metaphors for life is what happens in the kitchen. A life that is lived fully, with nothing held back, is "the supreme meal." Some chefs have the ability to distill their years of experience--including failures, mistakes, and successes--into recipes that all of us can find helpful in cooking our own "meals." Cooking is more than a metaphor in this well conceived work about mindfulness around living that can be exemplified in kitchen work and food service. The instructions are a challenge which demonstrates the practicality of Zen practice. The work also invites cooks be a challenged to look at the broader implications of what they do, by extension it what any of us do for a living of with our life.


The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa

by Eido T. Shimano

translated and edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, Roko Sherry Chayat


$13.00, paper; 179 pages


Collected in chronological order this literary anthology of a major Japanese Zen master who had an influential American following, is mostly haiku, calligraphy, journal jottings, and letters. Shimano offers a memoir that captures the wide ranging depth of this exceptional human being. This work should attract keen interest in the Zen community. It is also very accessible for the less initiated. Recommended.


Book 1

by Dogen

edited and translated by Gudo Nishijima, Chodo Cross

Windbell Publications, P.O. Box 578, Woods Hole, MA 02543-0578

$25.00, sewn paper; 358 pages



Book 2

by Dogen

edited and translated by Gudo Nishijima, Chodo Cross

Windbell Publications, P.O. Box 578, Woods Hole, MA 02543-0578

$25.00, sewn paper; 304 pages



Book 3

by Dogen

edited and translated by Gudo Nishijima, Chodo Cross

Windbell Publications, P.O. Box 578, Woods Hole, MA 02543-0578

$25.00, sewn paper;


The Shobogenzo is a collection of Master Dogen’s teachings that have been recently recognized as of especially profound, rational and unique vision of the enlightenment experience. The works have attract much attention of philosophers from around the world as well as Soto historians. Many commentaries have been written on different lectures. Dogen’s view of time has important postmodern implications it has been claimed. There are several partial translations into English and only one complete translation which has had mixed reviews. Nishijima is a Zen master who has translated Dogen’s work into modern Japanese. He has also published extensive commentaries upon the work. These first two parts of a prospective 4 volume translation attempts to let Dogen speak for himself. Notes are relegated to the bottom of the page. the power of Dogen is that he takes a traditional Buddhist idea and examines it in a way as to abstract it from our ordinary associations, then he attempts to make it as concrete as possible. After which he demonstrates its practical application and utility finally reconstructing its meaning in an entirely new way. Dogen is known for being the Japanese founder of the Soto school. His approach to meditation is well institutionalized now. The heart of Zen monasticism is the practice of meditation; it is this feature that has been most popular in Zen’s spread to the West. Zen meditation highlights the experience of enlightenment, or satori (Chinese: wu), and the possibility of attaining it in this life. The strict training of Zen monks, the daily physical chores, the constant wrestling with koans, the long hours of sitting in meditation, and the special intensive periods of practice (sesshin) are all directed toward this end. These preserved talks he gave sparkle with his meditative consciousness. Highly recommended.

Special Contents

Dogen's Shobogenzo