46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2000
I have no credentials for judging the quality of the translation. The five-star rating is strictly for completeness. As far as I know, this is the only English translation of all 95 chapters of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Other partial translations such as Cleary's 13 chapter selection or Moon in the Water are available and may be worthwhile to read for comparison. The 95 chapters are arranged in chronological order, a little more than 20 chapters to a volume. If you want to try just one volume at a time, get them in sequence, since the first two volumes contain most of the more famous chapters such as Genjo Koan and Rivers and Mountains. Each chapter is prefaced with an explanation of the chapter's title. References to classic Chinese and Indian works are extensively footnoted. Dogen's original work was written in Japanese with Chinese quotations directly embedded in the Japanes text in Chinese characters. The translators have used italics to indicate Chinese text in the original. Each volume also has a glossary of terms. Dogen is not an easy read, primarily because he uses so many references to classic Buddhist texts with which the typical reader is probably not familiar with. But the footnotes help. I like to read Dogen just for the feel without necessarily understanding each sentence. These chapters are transcriptions of lectures and as such have lots of repetition and after reading the same thing several times over, restated in different ways, you get the drift. In any case, after having read all 95 chapters, you will have a good sense of what Dogen was about. If you are at all serious about studying the thought of Dogen, this series will be a worthwhile addition to your library.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2001
MASTER DOGEN'S SHOBOGENZO - Book 1. Translated by Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross. 358 pp. London : Windbell Publications Ltd., 1998 (1994). ISBN 0 9523002 1 4 (Pbk).
The works of Zen Master Dogen (1200-53) are profound. They express the point-of-view of an enlightened Master. Such works, especially when written in a sinograph-based language such as Japanese or Chinese, present very real problems of interpretation, and there are few who are equal to the task of competently translating them. Of these few, Nishijima Roshi would certainly seem to be one.
Born in 1919 in Yokohama, he is a graduate of the prestigious Law Department of Tokyo University. Between 1940 and 1973 - when he became a Zen priest - he combined a career in the Ministry of Finance with daily practice in Zazen and study of the 'Shobogenzo.' In his brief but extremely interesting Preface he writes:
"I think that reading Shobogenzo is the best way to come to an exact understanding of Buddhist theory, because Master Dogen was outstanding in his ability to understand and explain Buddhism rationally" (page ix).
In comparing the present translation with three four others I have on my shelves, I was struck by what seems to me to be its greater clarity. Here, for example, is Norman Waddell's translation of the closing lines of fascicle 11 - Uji - Existence-Time :
"Such investigations in thoroughgoing practice, reaching here and not reaching there - that is the time of being-time" ('Eastern Buddhist,' Vol XII No.1, May 1979, page 129).
Here is the Nishijima-Cross translation of the same lines :
"When we experience coming and experience leaving, and when we experience presence and experience absence, like this [i.e., as in the immediately preceding scriptural quotation], that time is Existence-Time" (page 118).
One of the reasons for the difference between these two readings may have to do with Nishijima Roshi's expressed preference for a literal, as opposed to a more literary translation, as when he commented : "I like the translation from which Master Dogen's Japanese can be guessed" (page xi). But whatever may be the case, whereas the Waddell reading conveys little to me, the Nishijima-Cross reading immediately evokes such things as the felt presence of the absence that is death.
Besides its greater clarity, there are many other fine things in this book. These include the use, where appropriate, of Chinese characters (sinographs), and the fact that all passages have been keyed to the 'Gendaigo-yaku-shobogenzo,' Nishijima Roshi's 13-volume edition of the 'Shobogenzo' in Modern Japanese, features the advanced student will greatly appreciate. In addition, all of Dogen's extensive quotations from the Chinese Buddhist scriptures have been italicized, and the value of this becomes instantly apparent once one starts reading.
The book is rounded out with seven Appendices: 1. A Japanese-Pinyin table of the Chinese Masters; 2. The text of the Popular Edition of the Fukan-zazengi; 3. A table of the Buddhist Patriarchs; 4. An illustration of the Kasaya; 5. A ground plan and detailed description of a Traditional Temple Layout; 6. A bilingual Chinese-English collection of important passages from the 'Lotus Sutra'; 7. A detailed Glossary of Sanskrit terms. Finally we have been given no less than five Bibliographies.
The book is bound in a strong glossy wrapper, stitched, and well-printed on excellent paper. Those who may be new to Dogen would probably be better off starting with a book of selections such as Kazuaki Tanahashi's 'Moon in a Dewdrop,' but advanced students will certainly want to have this set.
All in all, it has to be one of the finest and most useful translations of the 'Shobogenzo' that we have ever seen. But since this first volume contains only the first twenty-one fascicles of the 95-chapter 'Shobogenzo,' to get the complete text you will of course also have to acquire Volumes 2, 3, and 4.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2008
A Monumental Achievement!
If you have not read Books 1 through 4 of this translation of the 95 chapter edition of Shobogenzo, do it now! If you have read them, do it again!
Gudo Nishijima and Mike (Chodo) Cross's four volume translation of the 13th century Zen master Eihei Dogen's masterpiece marked the first English language translation of the entire 95 chapter version of Shobogenzo - The True Dharma-Eye Treasury (excepting the nearly useless translation by Kosen Nishiyama and John Stevens).
By opting for a more "literal" rather than "interpretive" rendition, the translators have realized a monumental achievement by furnishing English readers with a reliable text that is certain to be invaluable for generations.
This set is also packed with a wide selection of reference material, or "Aids to the Reader", including a translation of The Heart Sutra, Dogen's Fukanzazengi, and a generous selection of passages from the Lotus Sutra, Glossaries, a variety of tables offering data on everything from The Works of Dogen, to equivalents of Chinese/Japanese/Sanskrit/English.
The extensive footnotes, while occasionally offering some overly "interpretive" (read: sectarian), provide readers with a vast amount of supplemental information with lucid explanations concerning cultural context, alternate readings, sources for material quoted in the body of the text, biographical (historical and traditional) information on personages appearing in the text, and much more.
Book 1 - Table of Contents
 BENDOWA - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth
 MAKA-HANNYA-HARAMITSU - Maha-prajna-paramita
 GENJO-KOAN - The Realized Universe
 IKKA-NO-MYOJU - One Bright Pearl
 JU-UNDO-SHIKI - Rules for the Hall of Heavy Cloud
 SOKU-SHIN-ZE-BUTSU - Mind Here and Now Is Buddha
 SENJO - Washing
 RAIHAI-TOKUZUI - Prostrating to Attainment of the Marrow
 KEISEI-SANSHIKI - The Voices of the River-Valley and the Form of the Mountains
 SHOAKU-MAKUSA - Not Doing Wrongs
 UJI - Existence-Time
 KESA-KUDOKU - The Merit of the Kasaya
 DEN-E - The Transmission of the Robe
 SANSUIGYO - The Sutra of Mountains and Water
 BUSSO - The Buddhist Patriarchs
 SHISHO - The Certificate of Succession
 HOKKE-TEN-HOKKE - The Flower of Dharma Turns the Flower of Dharma
 SHIN-FUKATOKU - Mind Cannot Be Grasped [The former]
 SHIN-FUKATOKU - Mind Cannot Be Grasped [The latter]
 KOKYO - The Eternal Mirror
 KANKIN - Reading Sutras
Book 2 - Table of Contents
 BUSSHO - The Buddha-nature
 GYOBUTSU-YUIGI - The Dignified Behavior of Acting Buddha
 BUKKYO - The Buddha's Teaching
 JINZU - Mystical Power
 DAIGO - Great Realization
 ZAZENSHIN - A Needle for Zazen
 BUTSU-KOJO-NO-JI - The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha
 INMO - It
 GYOJI - [Pure] Conduct and Observance [of Precepts] - Parts 1 & 2
 KAI-IN-ZANMAI - Samadhi, State Like the Sea
 JUKI - Affirmation
 KANNON - Avalokitesvara
 ARAKAN - The Arhat
 HAKUJUSHI - Cedar Trees
 KOMYO - Brightness
 SHINJIN-GAKUDO - Learning the Truth with Body and Mind
 MUCHU-SETSUMU - Preaching a Dream in a Dream
 DOTOKU - Expressing the Truth
 GABYO - A Picture of Rice Cake
 ZENKI - All Functions
Book 3 - Table of Contents
 TSUKI - The Moon
 KUGE - Flowers in Space
 KOBUSSHIN - The Mind of Eternal Buddhas
 BODAISATTA-SHISHOBO - Four Elements of a Bodhisattva's Social Relations
 KATTO - The Complicated
 SANGAI-YUISHIN - The Triple World is Only the Mind
 SESSHIN-SESSHO - Expounding the Mind & Expounding the Nature
 BUTSUDO - The Buddhist Truth
 SHOHO-JISSO - All Dharmas are Real Form
 MITSUGO - Secret Talk
 BUKKYO - The Buddhist Sutras
 MUJO-SEPPO - The Non-Emotional Preaches the Dharma
 HOSSHO - The Dharma-nature
 DARANI - Dharani
 SENMEN - Washing the Face
 MENJU - The Face-to-Face Transmission
 ZAZENGI - The Standard Method of Zazen
 BAIKE - Plum Blossoms
 JUPPO - The Ten Directions
 KENBUTSU - Meeting Buddha
 HENSAN - Thorough Exploration
 GANZEI - Eyes
 KAJO - Everyday Life
 RYUGIN - The Moaning of Dragons
 SHUNJU - Spring and Autumn
 SOSHI-SAIRAI-NO-I - The Ancestral Master's Intention in Coming from the West
 UDONGE - The Udumbara Flower
 HOTSU-MUJOSHIN - Establishment of the Will to the Supreme
 HOTSU-BODAISHIN - Establishment of the Bodhi-mind
 NYORAI-ZENSHIN - The Whole Body of the Tathagata
 ZANMAI-O-ZANMAI - The Samadhi That Is King of Samadhis
 SANJUSHICHI-BON-BODAI-BUNBO - The Thirty-seven Auxiliary Bodhi Methods
 TEMBORIN - Turning the Dharma Wheel
 JISHO ZANMAI - Samadhi as Self Experience
 DAI SHUGYO - Great Practice
 KOKU - Space
 HATSU-U - The Patra
 ANGO - The Retreat
 TASHINTSU - The Power to Know Others' Minds
 O SAKU SENDABA - A King's Seeking of Saindhava
 JI-KUIN-MON - Sentences To Be Shown in the Kitchen Hall
 SHUKKE - Leaving Family Life
 SANJI-NO-GO - Karma in Three Times
 SHIME - The Four Horses
 SHUKKE-KUDOKU - The Merit of Leaving Family Life
 KUYO-SHOBUTSU - Serving Offerings to Buddhas
 KIE-SANBO - Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures
 SHINJIN-INGA - Deep Belief in Cause and Effect
 SHIZEN-BIKU - The Bhiksu in the Fourth Dhyana
 YUI-BUTSU-YO-BUTSU - Buddhas Alone, Together With Buddhas
 SHOJI - Life-and-Death
 DOSHIN - The Will to the Truth
 JUKAI - Receiving the Precepts
 HACHI-DAININGAKU - The Eight Truths of a Great Human Being
[Appendix 1] BUTSU-KOJO-NO-JI - The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha
[Appendix 2] IPPYAKUHACHI-HOMYOMON - One Hundred and Eight Gates of Dharma-Illumination