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Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen Paperback – October 31, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Moon in a Dewdrop is empty and clear at the same time, like the reflection of the moon in a drop of water.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

“Kazuaki Tanahashi and his colleagues at the San Francisco Zen Center...have given us an accessible and comprehensive Dogen in English.” ―Vajradhatu Sun

“Kazuaki Tanahashi...has preserved Dogen's spirit and character in his careful and comprehensive translations.” ―East West

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Reissue edition (October 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086547186X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865471863
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
'MOON IN A DEWDROP - WRITNGS OF ZEN MASTER DOGEN,' edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi. Translated by Robert Aitken, Philip Whalen, et al. 356 pp. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985 and reprinted.
Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), who was an exceptionally gifted child, was born into an aristocratic household in Kyoto. The death of his mother when he was eight years old so impressed upon him the central Buddhist truth of impermanency, that he forsook his aristocratic privileges when he was thirteen and went to Mt. Hiei to study to become a Buddhist monk.
But since no-one in Japan could satisfactorily answer his questions - not surprising when you consider that he was the greatest genius Japan has ever produced - he went off to China in 1223 in search of a Master. There he studied under the Soto Ch'an (Zen) Master Ju-ching (1163-1228), attained enlightenment, and returned to Japan to become the founder Japanese Soto Zen.
Zen first became known to the West largely through the writings of D. T. Suzuki, who was a follower of the 'Sudden Enlightenment' or direct koan-using Rinzai Zen. Soto Zen, in contrast, is a gentler method which places greater reliance on Zazen or deep meditation, and is the method that has gained the largest number of adherents in Japan.
To discover just how profound Dogen was, you will have to turn to his magnum opus, the 'Shobogenzo' or 'Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.' This has been translated, in whole or in part, a number of times, but an edition I can heartily recommend is the present book.
Besides twenty texts from the 'Shobogenzo,' this 356-page book includes four additional texts and a selection of Dogen's poems.
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Format: Paperback
Dogen may very well be the most important master in all of Zen history, next to Shakyamuni of course. This particular book is a translation of portions derived from Dogen's masterwork, Shobogenzo. I would suggest purchasing with this "Enlightenment Unfolds: The essential teachings of Zen Master Dogen" by the same author, it's somewhat like a follow-up. Also beneficial readings come from many of the works out there from the late modern master Taizan Maezumi. This book offers clear translations of some of the most central aspects of Dogen's fascinating style of Zen (still one of the predominant schools to have survived to date). One of the previous reviewers mentioned this book's wonderful glossary of terms, to which I must agree; It's at once extensive and dense. If you are looking for a really accurate (as well as fairly easy to read) book on Dogen Zenji aside from the entire Shobogenzo itself, don't look any further. Your needs are all met right here. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
Eihei Dogen is without a doubt the greatest writer in Zen history. His masterwork, the Shobogenzo, represents one of the most comprehensive, fascinating, and valuable works of Buddhist literature. In Moon in a Dewdrop, Kazuaki Tanahashi has compiled the best single volume Dogen in the English language. This contains the best translations I have ever read of several of Dogen's seminal works - Genjo Koan, Uji, Yuibutsu Yobutsu, Sansuikyo, Zenki, and the Tenzo Kyokun.
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Format: Paperback
Dôgen-Zenji was the greatest figure in Japanese Zen; if literary output were the criterion he would be the greatest of all Zen Masters. He was one of those rare beings who combine the contemplative's insight into reality with the poet's gift of words.
His immense masterwork, the "True Dharma-Eye Treasury," covers all aspects of Buddhist practice from rarefied metaphysics to behaviour at mealtimes: all dualities are comprehended in Enlightenment, leaving no distinction between the mundane and the sublime.

I have four books of excerpts, but this is my favourite: the poetic and metaphysical chapters predominate over practical and instructional ones. Literary Japanese, supple, intricate and elliptical, was wildly different from modern English, but the translators have done wonders in achieving clear and (fairly) natural versions, though word-choices sometimes puzzle. A good balance has also been struck between a surfeit of footnotes and too many baffling allusions.

This is a book to read, re-read and grow into, depth after depth. It expresses as much of the beauty, mystery and profundity of Zen (and existence itself,) as can be expressed in words... and then a little more. Even when I'm reading a passage I can't make head or tail of, I feel my body go cold, as when reading great poetry. This is a book that haunts, astonishes and humbles, a book to trudge through the snow for, to swim icy rivers for... and you can buy it so easily.
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Format: Paperback
The selection of essays and order of presentation were faultless. The language is beautiful but in some places suffered an inescapable temporality. For example the word, "actualize" was forced in place of more harmonious terms like, "realize", "awaken", "manifest", etc. A phrase from the New Age, "resonate with" was again, forced, making the work instantly dated.
The overall effect was that the translation became stuck in time and place: in San Francisco, the Human Potential Movement, 1980. This makes it much like some of the Victorian translations of Buddhist literature and gave it a faint, cloying after aroma of added agenda.
This may be a problem inherent in art and literature by committee. The editors are to be thanked for making some of Dogen's most poetic writings available to the non-Oriental languages reader. The sincere student of Dogen should obtain other translations and compare them with this one. My copy is already well marked, with word corrections that I believe restore some of the harmony and spirit of Dogen's work.
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