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Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen Paperback – October 31, 1995
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“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Solid book with a lot of insight to offer. Book itself feels and looks nice. 5/5Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is yet another great anthology of the teachings and life of Zen Master Dogen written by one of the worlds great Zen teachers and translators Kazuaki Tanahashi. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kathleen A. Bishop
The writings of a zen master can sometimes be difficult to understand. But the writings of Dogen are so clear they can be confusing. Read morePublished on August 9, 2014 by Andrew Olsen
Dogen is an important figure in the transmission of Chan/Zen from China to Japan. His writings, though a bit judgmental, are an absolute necessity for the serious practitioner of... Read morePublished on December 2, 2013 by mukunda777
I'm in graduate school so tackling the full shobogenzo was out of the question. This is now my go to non-school book to browse through on breaks. Read morePublished on November 3, 2013 by C. Watts
Like, when Dogen says the entire moon and sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, that is like, too far out, man. Heavy. Like, I am the dewdrop! Can you dig it? Wow! Read morePublished on October 27, 2013 by nonamespecified
This book is full of thoughtful writing and beautiful haiku poems. I really have enjoyed it, though I have not read it from front to back. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Crystal Bowen