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The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo annotated edition Edition
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This new collection of Dogen's writing contains eight key fascicles from Dogen's Shobogenzo, superbly translated by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe. These translations were gathered for publication after being issued independently in the scholarly journal The Eastern Buddhist. These translations have long been praised by Dogen scholars for their clarity, accuracy, and erudition.
This is a very important collection for the Dogen enthusiast, whether scholar, practitioner, or interested reader. It brings together translations of several of the most important fascicles, including Genjokoan (Manifesting Suchness), Bendowa (Negotiating the Way), Uji (Being-Time), and Bussho (Buddha Nature). They are masterfully translated by two scholars who have spent many years studying and clarifying their grasp of Dogen Zenji's thought.
This book is particularly important for its footnotes, which are invaluable for the student who has found Dogen to be inpenetrable or incomprehensible. The footnotes provide an unobtrusive but crucial commentary, explaining the wealth of subtle allusions and references that abound in Dogen's writings. These stock images would have been recognized immediately by the monks Dogen spent his life with, but for us they can be (mis)taken as enigmatic and meaningless.Read more ›
These translations, initially published in the journal, The Eastern Buddhist, are considered by many scholars to be the most reliable English translations to date. Each translation is prefaced with an introduction and provided with complete, detailed notes that explain terms, highlight implications, and draw the readers attention to Zen sources as well as Dogen's own unique handling of language.
Eight of these works come from the Zen master's magnum opus, Shobogenzo. The Shobogenzo (Treasury of the True Dharma-Eye), Eihei Dogen's masterpiece, is considered one of the most important works of Buddhist literature, and even one of the highest achievements of world literature. The translations from the Shobogenzo that are included here represent eight of the most essential chapters making up this voluminous work.
Bendowa (Negotiating the Way)...
is a detailed examination and explanation on what Dogen considered as the authentic message, and practice Zen Buddhism. Much of this chapter consists of a "question and answer format" wherein Dogen outlines the authentic teaching of Zen, while simultaneously debunking some of the major aberrations of the Zen teachings of his day.
Ikka Myoju (One Bright Pearl)...
is one of Dogen's most creative, yet accessible expressions on the nature of life and death according to the Mahayana teachings of nonduality and emptiness. Dogen uses a classic Zen koan as the foundation of his exposition that the "whole universe is one bright pearl."
Genjokoan (Actualizing the Fundamental Point)...
may be the most direct expression of Zen practice and enlightenment in all of Dogen's work.Read more ›
Now, Dogen is still Dogen and reading his works is much like "scratching a fingernail across polished granite," but the footnotes in the text are amazing. I often find myself reading footnotes by some authors and quickly conclude that they have only superfluous comments or trivialities to add. I am sure you have encountered this too. However, the caliber of insight offered in Waddell and Abe's notes is simply marvelous. Each one is not only useful, but interesting. Although this is Dogen's work, the translators' knowledge on the subject comes through quite powerfully, adding a layer of depth to this text. I found myself clinging to each footnote as if it were as important as the text itself. In some cases, I found the text to be completely un-understandable until I read Waddell and Abe's notes. Also, there are just so many references to Chinese and Indian Buddhist sources that this makes easy work for tracking down future topics of research.
If you are interested in Dogen, I think you will find the insight lent by the translators to be nothing short of amazing. I also hope you find them as enlightening as I did.
This book, as other reviews have noted, is actually a compilation of various translated articles that first appeared as a series in the "Eastern Buddhist" journal. These translations of selected essays out of Dogen's masterwork (the Shobogenzo- lit. "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye"- which actually is a shared title with a koan collection) have always been highly regarded by Buddhaphiles world-wide. In fact, Waddell and Abe set the standard for later translations of Dogen's material with these excerpts in Eastern Buddhist. While there have since appeared many partial and full translations- as well as scholarly studies- of Dogen's zen teachings, to my mind none of the recent translation work achieves the accuracy combined with a smooth flow that Waddell and Abe rendered. Add to this high-level translation achievement the informative (if brief) notes that accompanied the texts, and you have a resource that should be in the library of anyone who is a fan of zen, regardless of how many other books on Dogen one may already possess. This compilation of their translations into one volume, then, is a welcome resource.
As anyone who has studied his writings is aware, tackling Dogen's essays is a tough task in itself. Dogen packs a lot into condensed space, and the only way to really begin to appreciate his style of expounding is to take small doses at a time, and chew on each tidbit.Read more ›