Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dipping into Dogen Zenji

At our City Center gathering last night, Doug suggested that we might read some of Dogen Zenji's writings.  Dogen is one of the founders of Soto Zen in Japan.  His writing is difficult and complex, and said to be very hard to translate, but he is a profound thinker.  During the course of the discussion, I picked a passage from "Uji"--Time-Being--to read.  I am afraid that all I illustrated by that reading is that Dogen can be difficult.  I didn't advance anyone's understanding and wasn't very helpful.  For that I apologize.

Dogen is a wonderful source for Zen study, and he is not impenetrable, although I made him seem so.  In fact, one of the classic Dogen statements, one which is a favorite of mine, is quite clear:  In the Genjokoan he states, "To study the Buddha way is to study the self.  To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to be awakened by the ten thousand things."  To be awakened by the ten thousand things is to realize the unity of all things.  Our practice could not be stated more succinctly.

It is true, however, that Dogen is often best read with commentary.  For those who would like to dip into Dogen, I recommend as one source of good translations the book "Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Master Dogen" or the more recent "Enlightenment Unfolds: the Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen." Because his writing can often be filled with hard to understand allusions, and can be cryptic, you might find it helpful to browse some of the ever increasing Dogen commentary.  An easy way to access some of this is to go to  The site is devoted to Zen and has a broad selection of links to articles on Dogen.

I look forward to our all venturing into Dogen together in a way that is a bit less intimidating and much more helpful.



No comments:

Post a Comment