The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans

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When the thirteenth century master Eihei Dogen, one of the most influential thinkers in Zen Buddhism and founder of the Japanese Soto school, returned to Japan after four years of study in China, the fruit of his pilgrimage was recorded in a collection of koans called the Chinese Shobogenzo, also known as Shinji or Mana Shobogenzo. This collection of three hundred main cases was first published in 1766 under the title Shobogenzo Sambyakusoku (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Three Hundred Cases), and was known to have provided the raw material for much of Dogen's better known Japanese-language Kana Shobogenzo.

Dogen's collection of koans may come as a surprise to students of Zen as Dogen and the Soto school are generally known for the practice of shikantaza, or "just sitting," rather than for koan practice. Nevertheless, a careful study of Dogen's work reveals that he did use koans extensively in his writing and teaching, not only in the Kana Shobogenzo, but most of his other works as well. Zen students and scholars will find The True Dharma Eye to be a source of deep insight into the mind of one of the world's greatest religious thinkers, as well as the practice of koan study itself.

Following the spirit of Dogen's pioneering efforts to carry the dharma across cultural divides, John Daido Loori Roshi, one of the West's most respected Zen teachers, has added his own verses and commentaries to each koan. The resulting volume presents readers with a uniquely contemporary perspective on Dogen's profound teachings and their relevance for twenty-first-century Western practitioners of Zen.

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About the Author:

Dogen (1200–1253) is known as the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen sect.

John Daido Loori (1931–2009) was one of the West's leading Zen masters. He was the founder and spiritual leader of the Mountains and Rivers Order and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery. His work has been most noted for its unique adaptation of traditional Asian Buddhism into an American context, particularly with regard to the arts, the environment, social action, and the use of modern media as a vehicle of spiritual training and social change. Loori was an award-winning photographer and videographer. His art and wildlife photography formed the core of a unique teaching program that integrated art and wilderness training by cultivating a deep appreciation of the relationship of Zen to our natural environment. He was a dharma heir of the influential Japanese Zen master Taizan Maezumi Roshi and he authored many books.

Kazuaki Tanahashi, a Japanese-trained calligrapher, is the pioneer of the genre of "one stroke painting" as well as the creator of multicolor enso (Zen circles). His brushwork has been shown in solo exhibitions in galleries, museums, and universities all over the world. Tanahashi has edited several books of Dogen's writings and is also the author of Brush Mind.

Review:

"We are fortunate to receive this important new translation by Kaz Tanahashi and Daido Loori of Zen Master Dogen's early selection of three hundred koans that formed a basis for his many later koan commentaries. Daido Loori's introduction discussing Dogen's approach counteracts prevalent stereotypes that base all koan practice on later eighteenth-century training systems. Daido Loori's brief remarks and verse comments after each case suggest helpful perspectives for practitioners."—Taigen Dan Leighton, co-translator and editor, Dogen's Extensive Record and Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community

"What Daido Roshi now does in a remarkable way is to breathe new life into the text by innovatively creating prose and verse comments. The Mana Shobogenzo lives again, and for the lucky readers so does the thought of Dogen Zenji transmitted to the twenty-first century."—Steven Heine, co-editor of Dogen's Extensive Record

"This creative work, presented from the perspective of a Western Zen teacher, adds a significant contribution in helping to make Zen more global in its application as a spiritual path."—Shohaku Okumura, Dharma Successor of Kosho Uchiyama Roshi and founder of Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington, Indiana

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ISBN 10:  1590304659 ISBN 13:  9781590304655
Publisher: Shambhala, 2009
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