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Essential Dogen, The

Product no.: 978-1611800418
The Essential Dogen provides readers with a comprehensive array of the most salient and primary themes Dogen explored throughout his teaching career.

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Publisher's Synopsis
Organized according to subject matter for the first time, Dogen’s understanding, insights and views are made readily accessible to experienced and new readers alike. The text draws from all previous Dogen translations supported by San Francisco Zen Center.

The complexity, depth and manner of much of Dogen’s writing are difficult for the majority of readers to comprehend, and so the organization found in The Essential Dogen helps to fill the gap between Dogen and contemporary readers and meditators. The volume also contains valuable unpublished biographical materials.

In each chapter, readers will find multiple excerpts on the subject at hand, including Dogen’s teaching on time, space, buddha nature, enlightenment, compassion, karma, nonduality, practice, Zen, scripture, silence, vows, women, mind, nonattainment, gates of dharma, and many other of his primary subjects.

"This book makes the great master accessible to all those who've longed to read him, but who have been intimidated by the volume of material. By bringing together some of the most practical and inspiring of all Dogen’s teachings, Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt show that there’s nothing to be intimidated by at all. Dogen is a wise and eloquent teacher for anyone who wants to listen to him."      ~Sweeping Zen

I wrote to master Rujing shortly before I met him: "When I was young I aroused the aspiration for enlightenment and visited various monasteries in my country. I had some understanding of the principle of cause and effect; however I was not able to clarify the real source of buddha, dharma, and sangha. I was only seeing the outer forms, the marks, and the names. Later I entered the chamber of Eisai, Zen master Senko, and for the first time heard the teaching of the Linji School.

“Now I have accompanied monk myozen to the flourishing kingdom of Song China. After a voyage of many miles, during which I entrusted my phantom body to the billowing waves, I have finally arrived and have entered your dharma assembly. This is the fortunate result of my wholesome roots from the past.

“Great compassionate teacher, even though I am only a humble person from a remote country, I am asking permission to be a room-entering student, able to come to ask questions freely and informally. Impermanent and swift, birth-and-death is the issue of utmost urgency. Time does not wait for us. Once a moment is gone, it will never come back again, and we’re bound to be full of regret.

“Great compassionate reverend abbot, grant me permission to ask you about the way, about the dharma. Please, I bow to you one hundred times with my forehead humbly touching the floor.”

Rujing wrote back: “Yes, you can come informally to ask questions any time, day or night, from now on. Do not worry about formality; we can be like father and son.” and he signed it, “Old man at mount Taibo.”

Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen School as well as of Daihonzan Eiheiji, was born on January 26, 1200 AD. At the age of thirteen, he climbed Mt. Hiei, and the next year he shaved his head and became a monk.

Mt. Hiei at that time, as reflected in the eyes of Dogen had become decadent because of connections with people in power. Among the priests there was much worldly greed for fame and wealth. Disappointed, Dogen left Mt. Hiei walking in search of the true Dharma (the true Buddhist teaching). He visited temples in many different districts, considerably confused and agitated.

In Shobogenzo Zuimonki, Dogen is quoted as saying, “I was unable to meet a true teacher or any good friends of the Way and consequently confused and evil thoughts arose. However, when I learned of eminent monks of the past, I realized that the thoughts I had been thinking were despised and hated by such people. So, I changed my way of thinking, realizing that I should think of my eminent predecessors, the great priests of China and India, rather than the monks in Japan.”

True to his words, he traveled by boat to China at the age of 24 in search of the true way of Buddha. Nevertheless, there were no teachers in China who were able to fulfill the pure ideals of Dogen. Just as he was about to return to Japan, however, he met Nyojo Zenji on Mt. Tendo where there was true practice focused on zazen.

“I sat zazen day and night. When it was extremely hot or cold, many of the monks stopped sitting for a while because they were afraid of getting sick. At the time, I thought to myself, ‘I’m not sick and if I don’t practice, then it would be useless for me to have come all the way to China. Dying from illness because of practice would be in accord with my original wish’ and so, I continued to sit” (Shobogenzo Zuimonki).

It was to this extent that Dogen Zenji devoted himself to zazen. Many Japanese monks who went to study and practice in China brought back a mound of Buddhist sutras as souvenirs when they returned to Japan, but Dogen Zenji came back empty handed. The only thing that Dogen Zenji brought back with him was having made the teaching of only/just single-minded sitting his own (shikan-taza).

Editor Tanahashi, Kazuaki
Coeditor Levitt, Peter
Author Dogen, Eihei
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 272 pp.
Publisher Shambhala Publications 2013
Browse these categories as well: Eihei Dōgen and the Soto School, Eastern Buddhism and Zen Masters, Koans, Poems and Sutras, Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation, Noteworthy Releases 2013

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