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Zen

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Zen is a poignant, in-depth, reverent and surprisingly moving portrait of Eihei Dogen, the great 13th century Japanese Buddhist master. He studied at Buddhist centers in China and established a monastic practice which emphasizes sitting meditation; he is regarded as the founder of the Soto school of Zen. This feature film is impressively well-researched and produced with great attention to authentic detail.


SPECIAL BONUS FEATURETTE


The Zen of Dogen with Kazuaki Tanahashi, editor of the new complete Shobo Genzo

Review

"That rare serious film about [zen]... inspired... fearless... brilliant... an eloquent explanation of Dogen's Zen." --Japan Times

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Kantarou Nakamura, Yuki Uchida, Ryushin Tei, Jun Murakami
  • Directors: Banmei Takahashi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    G
    General Audience
  • Studio: Festival Media
  • DVD Release Date: December 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ZOFJNE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,925 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Never has the topic of enlightenment been captured so eloquently and symbolically. A great full moon shines brightly upon every element of this picture: scenery, performances, costuming, and story. It captures Zen in its infancy, its growning pains, and its lasting legacy. It gives you an insight into the stillness and silence of Zen practice. It's inspiring and full of wisdom. Multiple viewings are definitely recommended. The DVD includes a featurette, which is also beautiful and gives further insight into Dogen and Zen.
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Prepare to be immersed in the now - in the active world of monks seeking answers and men and women living in dispair and confusion. The dharma and the value of just sitting will be revealed - directly and from beautiful actors in images of high production value. A well made film. Could you be a Zen monk? Can Zen insight be about how to live in this world as a man or a woman? Eyes horizontal and nose vertical.
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Portrays the Tendai priest who considered that his sect had gotten away from its founder's intentions of quiet contemplation, and instead developed into a worldly (with an army of guards for protection) practice full of ritual with many practitioners not really sincere. He went to China as had most priests searching for Dharma instruction and found a practice which he developed into one of simple meditation and contemplation. He is considered one of the great Buddhist philosophers of Japan. I am not an historian, and am not sure of the details, but for someone who is interested in foundations of Japanese culture or particularly in Buddhism, I would recommend this movie as an enjoyable way to get an historical introduction. It will not teach anyone how to practice, but it does present history and some of the spirituality.
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A beautiful and inspirational film for those (like myself) who are relatively new to buddhist zen practice and thought. The film is a celebration of the long lineage of teachers and practitioners of sitting meditation (zazen) as a path to the relief of suffering for all beings ("To study the self is to forget the self"). The film focuses on the life of Dogen, a 13th century monk whose search for authentic zen teachings and practice moves him to bring the practice of sitting meditation to all people. The fundamental elements of zen buddhism teachings....that the essence of enlightenment is accepting what is rather than grasping for what we want or pushing away what we don't want... is beautifully illustrated in this film. Even a cursory reading about Dogen via Wikipedia or some similar source will enhance the meaning of the movie by giving the events portrayed some historic context.
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This biography of Dzoghen, the father of Japanese Zen Buddhism is clearly based on fact and is a good way to learn about the origins of Zen. But, beyond that, it is a darn good story told by a well made movie. I recommend this to anybody interested in Zen or religions of the world.
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'Zen' has become something of generic catchword for a fluffy, sentimental greeting card type of spirituality. This is the true story of one of the greatest teachers in this rich tradition, Ehei Dogen, his quest in China for a dharma teacher, and how he brought the authentic Chinese tradition of Chan Buddhism home to Japan. Beautifully filmed with no false steps.
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The real life story of Zen Master Dogen and the transmission of his teachings of the true dharma to his disciples. A beautiful film for all who practice zazen. The Way is that of simplicity, emptiness and seeing things as they truly are. "Eyes Horizontal, Nose Vertical." The first film I've been able to sit all the way through with a smile on my face from start to finish without being distracted, while playing my Guild Acoustic Guitar as a Japanese Koto over this lush and beautiful soundtrack. I have studied Zen and Taoism most of my life, and it is quite rare and wonderous for this beautiful spiritual practice to be depicted on film. Thank you for this. A Must-See.
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I was very much appreciative of the work of the filmmakers in presenting a reverential biography of Dogen that focuses on the founding of the Soto school of Zen in Japan. I was most struck by its allegorical and metaphorical nature. Though some have seen little or no value in the Orin subplot, it seems to me a largely parallel story to that of Jesus' ministry and the conversion (at least in terms of church history which was apparently mistaken) of Mary Magdalene who was styled as a prostitute but ultimately became very important in the founding of Christianity. The truth of the film lies in the struggle of faith against adversity and the elevation of the purity of the basic tenets of Zen, meditation--in Dogen's case, shikantaza, as inseparable from enlightenment, the awakening to the Original Self and the falling away of the illusive structures of mind. The shadow of the Jesus story reinforces the universal longing for, and attainability of, redemption.

The cinematography is beautifully done, with images of landscape, sky, moon, water and other symbols that serve to underscore the teachings of Dogen and serve as metaphors. The acting is heartfelt and reverential. As with most films of Jesus, Dogen is portrayed as a dauntless leader who perseveres and is loved by his followers who, in this film, give a number of strong performances. Dogen, himself, is played by a kabuki actor who handles the role with great care and investment.

Any telling of a man's story, his accomplishments, his process, is an allegory of the abstract notion of the human condition. This film points the finger at Zen and it's place in the experience of each individual, and it persuades us to forget the finger and just do the sitting. I feel refreshed by the honesty of it, and I would highly recommend this film .
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