Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo
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Dogen, the thirteenth-century Zen master who founded the Japanese Soto school of Zen, is renowned as one the world's most remarkable religious geniuses. His works are both richly poetic and deeply insightful and philosophical, pointing to the endless depths of Zen exploration. And almost precisely because of these facts, Dogen is often difficult for readers to understand and fully appreciate.
Realizing Genjokoan is a comprehensive introduction to the teachings and approach of this great thinker, taking us on a thorough guided tour of the most important essay-Genjokoan-in Dogen's seminal work, the Shobogenzo. Indeed, the Genjokoan is regarded as the pinnacle of Dogen's writings, encompassing and encapsulating the essence of all the rest of his work.
Our tour guide for this journey is Shohaku Okumura, a prominent teacher in his own right, who has dedicated his life to translating and teaching Dogen.
This volume also includes an introduction to Dogen's life from Hee-Jin Kim's classic, Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist, with updated annotations by Okumura.
ŌkŌan In Zen teachings such as this quote from Linji, “traces” refers to attachment to one’s own actions, and “leaving no traces” is generally regarded as a positive thing. But Dōgen Zenji’s usage of “trace” differs from that commonly found in Zen teachings. He did say, as Linchi did, that one should simply keep practicing without self-attachment, leaving no visible traces. But according to Dōgen, the trace of practice that leaves no visible trace can be seen by other bodhisattvas who share our
( Jap.: Dōshin, 580–651, the Fourth Ancestor of Chinese Zen), after giving instructions for the practice of zazen, says: Day and night, whether walking, standing still, sitting, or lying down, if you continuously contemplate things in this way you will know that your own body is like the moon in water, a reflection in a mirror, heat waves on a hot day, or an echo in an empty valley. You cannot say it has being (u) because even if you try to catch it you cannot see its substance. You also cannot
each sentence corresponds to one of these three truths. The first sentence corresponds to the Truth of the Expedient, the second sentence to the Truth of Emptiness, and the third sentence to the Truth of the Middle, the actual practice of the Buddha Way as the reality of our lives. This practice is based on the teachings of the first two truths and yet it goes beyond viewing reality from either of their perspectives. Practicing in this way transcends both “abundance [expedient being] and
took care of him before his death. It would just be following his request and comforting his feelings for a while. It is entirely useless for gaining emancipation and attaining the Way. To mistakenly allow him to hinder my aspiration to seek the Dharma would be a cause of evil deeds. However, if I carry out my aspiration to go to China to seek the Dharma, and gain a bit of enlightenment, although it goes against one person’s deluded feelings, it would become a cause for attaining the Way for many
of the mind is permanent. When we intimately practice and return right here, it is clear that all things have no [fixed] self. (8) Firewood becomes ash. Ash cannot become firewood again. However, we should not view ash as after and firewood as before. We should know that firewood dwells in the dharma position of firewood and has its own before and after. Although before and after exist, past and future are cut off. Ash stays in the position of ash, with its own before and after. As firewood never