1200 - 1253
Sanity and Madness : The Way of Zen Master Dogen (Tuttle
Library of Enlightenment) by Dennis Genpo Merzel
I have quite a collection of books about
Buddhist teachings and the teachers, mostly from the Theravada
traditions. Until I read this one, Dogen and Zen was very much a
mystery to me. Next to "The Three Pillars of Zen" by
Kaplan Roshi, it has provided insight where I had none before.
I am fortunate enough to live in the very same
city as the author Genpo Roshi, abbot of the Kanzeon center, and
it did play a role in my electing to visit the center. I
strongly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand
the writings of Dogen, and to learn a bit more about Zen.
-- Roy M. Schoenherr from Salt Lake City, USA
Great book I love it. This a vivid living
stream of teachings: How to find ZEN in the West, not to make a
dumb copy of Japanese ZEN but embrace what we meet here and
now... This book helps me a lot in my daily life and my business
work. -- Anonymous Review
here to learn more about this book
for more Books on Zen Buddhism
here for more Books by and about Dogen
here for Philosophy Bestsellers List
This is chapter 4 of the book, Soto
Approach to Zen.
Dogen, in the GenjoKoan fascicle of his masterwork Shobogenzo (The
Eye and Treasury of the True Law), makes this statement: "To
study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget
the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be
enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body
and mind of one's self and of others." This implies wiping out
even one's attachment to Satori. Detaching ourselves from Satori, we
must enter the day-to-day world. This sums up the essential character
of religion. If we question the experience of the self, we become
confused about where the self should be. If we become anxious about
the experience of the self, we start knocking at the door of religion.
Penetrating to the deepest true of the self, religion tries to
transcend the ego and release the true self. But we have to seek the
self by denying the self. Conduct based on self-desire and
self-attachment is evil. In every religion the emphasis falls on
denying the self. When we deepen our faith, we touch non-ego-a state
free from the ego's dualistic thinking. Buddhism, setting up the
principle that all things have no ego-sub stance, especially stresses
the realization of no- ego. But the more deeply man reflects on the
status of the self, the more he has to seek the absolute ground beyond
the self. Belief springs not only from man's subjective demand, but
also from his response to the beckoning of the absolute. It comes from
the absolute and depends on the call of God. But this God is not only
the object but also the ground of the object; He is not only the
subject but also the ground of the subject.
Lecture from Zazen Retreat.
Master Dogen was born in Japan in the year 1200 and died in 1253. At
the time Master Dogen was born, Japanese society was in an extremely
unsettled period. This was because the warrior classes had just obtained
political power to govern Japan from the emperor's government. Before
that time, Japanese people believed that Japan should be governed only
by the imperial family. But in 1192, the head of the warrior classes,
Yoritomo Minamoto, obtained complete power to govern Japan.
Consequently, Japanese society at that time was very confused, and it
was in this period that Master Dogen was born.
From Prof. Masunaga book Soto Approach
to Zen, the chapter: The place of Dogen, pages 203-214
It was Dogen (1200-1253) who first
brought Soto Zen to Japan. Keizan (1268-1325) made possible the
popularization of Soto Zen, thereby laying the foundation for the large
religious organization, which it is today. Dogen, born in a noble
family, quickly learned the meaning of the Buddhist word "mujo"
(impermanence). While still young, he lost both his parents. He decided
then to become a Buddhist priest and search for truth. He went first to
Mt. Hiei, the headquarters of the sect.
By Shohaku Okumura
Genjo-koan is one of the most well-known
chapters of Dogen Zenji's Shobogenzo. This is the best text to start to
study Dogen's teachings. Genjo-koan is really important is one wants to
understand the meaning of zazen practice and daily activities as
bodhisattva practice. As a practitioner, intellectual understanding
alone is not enough. That's why Dogen wrote many instructions about how
to practice daily. In order to show how to sit Zazen he wrote
Fukanzazengi, (Universal Recommendation of Zazen), in order to show how
to eat in the Zendo he wrote Fushukuhanpo (Dharma for taking meals), and
to show how to work in the kitchen he wrote Tenzo Kyokun (Instruction
for the Tenzo or cook in a Monastery). There are many such very concrete
instructions about how we have to behave, how we have to work, and what
kind of attitude we should maintain toward our own lives. Not simply for
practice in a monastery, but even for us modern people, his teachings
are relevant. There are many concrete ways of practice he taught his
students, and the basic philosophy is expressed in Shobogenzo. And
Genjo-koan is the first chapter of Shobogenzo. The basic philosophy of
our day to day lives as practice in bodhisattva way is very precisely
and also concentratedly written in this short writing, Genjo-koan.
Excerpt from the book "Soto Approach to Zen" focuses on Dogen's
"Bendowa," a classic text on how to perfect the Buddhist way through
Dogen wrote Bendowa shortly after his return from China. At that time
he was 32 years old and living quietly in Fukakusa, a suburb of Kyoto.
Shortly before that he wrote Fukanzazengi, while staying at
Kennin temple in Kyoto. In this work, he clarified the meaning of truly
transmitted zazen. Bendowa attempted to express and propagate the
great aspirations and profound beliefs of Buddhism on the basis of zazen
in the religious world of those days. The Zen style and basic spirit of
Dogen permeated this work. Bend6wa can be considered a general
introduction and summary to the 95 fascicles of the Shobogenzo. Other
fascicles could well be called elaboration of Bendowa. Those who wish to
study the Shobogenzo must delve deeply into this work in a narrow
sense Bendo means zazen; in a broader sense it means training.
By T. P. Kasulis, Philosophy East and West,
Volume 28, no. 3, July 1978 (c) by University Press of Hawaii