Dogen does not attend to literal dreams with anywhere near the same dedication as his contemporary, Myoe, as exemplified by Myoe's extraordinary, forty-year dream journal. Along with Myoe, dreams and visionary discourse are also more emphasized than they are by Dogen in the teachings of Keizan, Dogen's third generation successor, who is revered as the second founder of Japanese Soto Zen. The central role of dream and vision for Keizan has been discussed and elaborated by Bernard Faure in Visions of Power. Keizan and his successors in the following few generations helped spread Soto Zen throughout rural Japan. One stereotype in Soto studies is the distinction between Keizan's use of the visionary, inspired by Esoteric teachings, and the supposedly more "pure" Zen of Dogen. According to this stereotype, Dogen emphasized zazen and a rational presentation of buddha dharma, untainted by the more colorful and melodramatic Mahayana and Esoteric teachings indulged in by Keizan. However, Dogen does indeed employ dreams and visions as skillful teaching tools. While we may certainly note differences in emphasis and style between Dogen and Keizan, Dogen is in fundamental accord with the world-view of medieval Japan, including the esoteric teachings of Shingon and Tendai that were the background for all Kamakura Buddhism. Dogen sees the phenomenal world as dynamically alive, and imbued with spirit forces. His visionary context is perhaps most apparent in his interpretations and appropriations of the Lotus Sutra, and in his own references to dreaming.
In Muchu Setsumu "Within a Dream Expressing the Dream," Dogen explicitly refers to the Lotus Sutra as a source for the role of dreams in his discourse style. He quotes a long passage that concludes the final verse in chapter fourteen of the sutra, beginning from, "All buddhas, with bodies of golden hue, splendidly adorned with a hundred auspicious marks, hear the dharma and expound it for others. Such is the fine dream that ever occurs. . . ."