Dogen Zenji – online resources


dogenDogen has come a long way. When Zen first got hot in the U.S. during the 1960’s, Dogen was just another obscure Japanese master in the writings of D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, and the American version of Dogen’s Soto Zen school was just a handful of kids in San Francisco doing zazen at Sokoji with Shunryu Suzuki. These days, Soto Zen is all over the country and Dogen’s name is all over Amazon (780 hits). Dogen must be by now our most famous Zen master, ranking up there in the pantheon of Buddhist authors with stars like Nagarjuna (664 hits).

Dogen’s rise to stardom may be partly a function of the spread of his school in America, but his reputation as a Buddhist author goes beyond his status as founder of the Japanese Soto Zen tradition. Like Nagarjuna, and unlike most Zen masters, he is seen as a philosopher. Unlike Nagarjuna and most Zen masters, he is seen as a philosopher with important things to say about Buddhist practice—both how we should think about it and what we should do about it.

As a philosopher, Dogen is probably best known for his emphasis on what might be called the temporality of the absolute, what he likes to call “the koan of realization”—the claim that the ultimate truth is not a timeless principle but what is actually going on around us; or, to put it from the other side, that what is going on is not just one damned thing after another but the welling up of enlightenment in the world.

As a theorist of the Buddhist religious life, Dogen is known for his doctrine of “the unity of practice and verification”—the view that the goal of Buddhism is not a future state of enlightenment achieved through practice but in the present engagement in practice itself; or, to put it more simply, that the Buddhist life is its own reward, beyond which there is no enlightenment.

As a teacher of Buddhist practice, Dogen is known for his emphasis on attention to the details of whatever we do—a style summarized in the Soto saying, “Buddhism is deportment”—and for a particular approach to meditation, in which the practitioner is encouraged to “cast off body and mind,” abandon efforts to “make a buddha,” and “just sit” as the “embodiment of a buddha.”

These teachings and their author are now well known, in both Japan and the West, but throughout most of Japanese history, they appear to have had little impact outside the monasteries of the Soto Zen tradition. Dogen (1200-1253), though the son of a prominent aristocratic family, seems to have been something of an outsider in Japanese Buddhist circles, and his Soto school, though highly popular in the countryside, played relatively little role in the development of medieval Zen culture.

It is really in the twentieth century, with the wide distribution of his writings in Japan, that Dogen emerged from the cloister into the public eye. Among these writings, by far the most famous is the Shobogenzo (“Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma”), a collection of vernacular essays that typically take the form of comments on passages in Chinese Zen texts. Widely considered one of the masterpieces of Japanese Buddhist literature, the collection has been translated into English several times.

By Carl Bielefeldt, professor of religious studies and co-director of the Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University

sAshoka course on the Genjo Koan
Taught by Michael Wenger, San Francisco Zen Center

The Genjo Koan, Dogen Zenji's concise, poetic expression of the practice of the Buddha?s dharma, is one of the most treasured texts in the Soto Zen tradition. In Genjo Koan Dogen presents a basic philosophy of our day-to-day lives as practice in the bodhisattva way. Michael Wenger, San Francisco Zen Center's Dean of Studies, guides you in your engagement with Dogen's teachings on the integration of Zen training and daily life.


Dogen's writings


The Complete Shobogenzo, translated by Gudo Nishijima & Chodo Cross
The Complete Shobogenzo – translated by Rev. Hubert Nearman of Shasta Abbey.
The Shobogenzo: A Trainee’s Translation – Rev. Hubert Nearman, translator

Dogen's Shobogenzo – summaries of each chapter – from the Cross & Nishijima translation

Genjo Koan – translation by Nishiyama and John Stevens | Genjokoan | Genjo Koan

Genjo Koan - translated by Kaz Tanahashi and Robert Aitken
Fukanzazengi: Instructions for Zazen – six translations

The Time-Being – excerpts drom The Moon in a Dewdrop; writings of Zen Master Dogen, translated by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi

Uji: the Time-Being, translation by Reiho Masunaga

Shushogi: What is Truly Meant by Training and Enlightenment

Are There Any Who Are Not Beginners?
Teachings by Dogen from a new collection of translations focusing on his advice to practitioners. Excerpts from Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi (Shambhala Pub - 2004)

Gakudo yojin-shu: Guidelines for Studying the Way – excerpts from Moon in a Dewdrop.

Instructions for the Tenzo, translation by Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi and Anzan Hoshin roshi

Guidelines for Studying the Way. The first half - from Moon in a Dewdrop.
Zenki – translation by Thomas Cleary
Gabyo: Painted Rice Cakes, translated by Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin
Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 29 - Mountains and Waters Sutra - translation by Prof. Carl Bielefeldt
Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 28 - Getting the Marrow by Doing Obeisance - translation by Stanley Weinstein
Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 13 - Ocean Seal Samadhi -translation by Carl Bielefeldt with Michael Radich
Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 11 - Principles of Zazen -translation by Carl Bielefeldt with Michael Radich
Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, Book 31 - Not Doing Evils - translation by William Bodiford


Writing about Dogen


Living with Dogen: Thoughts on the Relevance of his Thought – Carl Bielefeldt
Reflections on Translating Dogen – Taigen Dan Leighton

Understanding Dogen: A roundtable discussion with Bonnie Myotai Treace, Taigen Dan Leighton, Norman Fischer and Steven Heine – Buddhadharma magazine

Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist –Hee-Jin Kim
Dogen Zenji's Standards for the Community Practice, Shohaku Okumura
Who Is Arguing About the Cat? Moral Action and Englightenment According to Dogen, Douglas K. Mikkelson
Shohaku Okumura wonderful lectures on Genjo Koan #7 #8 #9 #10 #11
Dogen on Meditation and Thinking – Hee-Jin Kim

To Transmit Dogen Zenji's Dharma, Otani Tetsuo:

Wild Time: Commentaries on Dogen's Being Time – Ven. Anzan Hoshin Roshi

Poems of Dogen Zenji

The Dragon's Howl, from Thomas Cleary's Rational Zen, the Mind of Dogen Zenji.
Understanding the Shobogenzo – Gudo Nishijima.
Dogen and Koans – John Daido Loori

Dogen Zenji's Genjo-koan Lecture – Rev. Shohaku Okumura

About Dogen Zenji – Prof. Masunaga Reiho
A Study of Dogen –Masao Abe
Did Dogen Go to China? Steven Heine

On Zenki "Total Dynamic Working" from Dogen’s Shobogenzo – Sojun Mel Weitsman

s Norman Fisher's talks on Fukazazengi, Bendowa, and Genjo Koan

The bodymind experience in Dogen's Shobogenzo: A phenomenological perspective – David E. Shaner

Koans in the Dogen Tradition : How and Why Dogen Does what He Does with Koans – Steven Heine
Dogen's Zen View of Interdependence, Norimoto Iino

A Commentary on Dogen's Uji – Dharmavidya David Brazier