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Thread: The Shobogenzo

  1. #1

    The Shobogenzo

    Hi! I didn't know which post to add this to, so I decided to just make a new one. (Nor do I know if this has already been put up) But I found a complete version of the Shobogenzo online and would like to share it.

    *Deep Bow*


    Seiryu

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma12/shobo.html

  2. #2

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Hi! I didn't know which post to add this to, so I decided to just make a new one. (Nor do I know if this has already been put up) But I found a complete version of the Shobogenzo online and would like to share it.

    *Deep Bow*


    Seiryu

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma12/shobo.html
    Hi Seiryu,

    Actually, there are now several complete and partial Shobogenzo available online, plus a wonderful new complete translation in print.

    Personally, I think the translation you linked to needs to be taken with some caution (I will say why below), although all the translations have their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, when I have read or talked about Shobogenzo, I have often looked at two or more translations simultaneously to see how the various translators have approached Dogen's poetry and word play (he was a great word gamester). Looking at a couple of translations at once can help triangulate the many dimensions in his worlds and words.

    First, available online, the most complete list of the various Shobogenzo online is here ...

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachin..._Complete.html

    ... although Terebess also has some translations online not found even there ...

    http://www.terebess.hu/english/dogen2.html

    My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, and Taigu's Teacher, Chodo Cross, have a complete Shobogenzo now fully available online for download here ...

    http://www.numatacenter.com/default.aspx?MPID=81

    The Soto Zen Text Project, a scholarly effort, will someday be complete, but has already accomplished much good work ... here:

    http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/p...ztp/index.html

    To my taste, the edition by Shasta Abbey can be too worshipful and "Biblical" in tone, often with the flavor of the Book of Common Prayer of King James filled with "Thou" and "Our Lord" references to Buddha in keeping with the rather Churchy flavor of the OBC Lineage. However, it is masterful too.
    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachin..._Complete.html

    Okay, which is "best" or, better said, what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of each?

    We have had some other threads on this, and I have said this before:

    The Shasta Abbey version by Rev. Hubert Nearman does not particularly ring my bell. I find it too flowery and reverential, possibly due to the flavor of that lineage. Their founder was an incredible woman, but taken to inner voices and visions and speaking as an oracle of the Buddhas (much like Teresa of Avila). She also was trying to reconcile the Shasta Abbey practices with traditional Anglican ceremony (for example, their chants much resemble the Book of Common Prayer). Portions of the style and wording of their Shobogenzo are very "King James" in feel. So, that must be take into consideration. Their chants and practices are beautiful however, but it can be clearly felt in this translation.

    Awhile back, I did ask the noted Dogen scholar, Steve Heine:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?...+dogen&x=0&y=0

    (1) of all the Shobogenzo translations out there, which is the most "accurate" from the point of view of Buddhist scholarship and translation (i.e., most faithful to what Dogen actually wrote)? (2) which is the most readable by the non-specialist, while still being as faithful as possible to Dogen? I told him not to be polite to my teacher, Nishijima Roshi, in answering.

    He said that, as far as Shobogenzo translations, Waddell/Abe, is perhaps the most "accurate" even though out of date in some ways (it is a reprint of renderings done in the 1970s). Tanahashi's several books are always very very good, and perhaps the most accessible to a non-scholar (at the intersection of literal accuracy and readability). He highly recommended those. Nishijima/Cross, he said, is the best of the complete translations, but it has many problems in grammar, typos and other small quirks (due to my teacher's limited English abilities and some peculiarities about Chodo Cross' style and Nishijima Roshi's personal philosophy) that it is best for serious students who can pick out the minor problems and see the underlying strength.

    The Soto Text project promises someday to be the best overall, but is coming out in small doses, still spotty and not quite living up to potential yet. Nishiyama/Stevens and Yokoi are to be avoided. Cleary, Masunaga, and Shasta all have some strengths, but are not nearly as good as the first sets above.

    That is from a Dogen scholar's point of view.
    I very much appreciate to read, for example, one of the other translations hand-in-hand with the "Soto Zen Text Project" version, when available. The reason is the wonderful work that has been done in tracing the history of the citations by Dogen which pepper the Shobogenzo.

    Now, recently Kazu Tanahashi issued a full translation of the Shobogenzo (he had issued bits and pieces in past decades) that we have discussed before, and which I think will become the most widely used English Shobogenzo in the Zen World because it is a lovely mix of style (very important to Dogen, the wordsmith) and scholarship and substance and readability, sacrificing not too much on each front, by a gifted poet and Dogen scholar in conjunction with other gifted writers, priests and Dogen scholars.

    ... although the price tag is a bit hefty (appropriate to the work that went into it) ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Treasury-True-...5919607&sr=8-2

    Here is an article about Kaz Tanahashi ...

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-10-2...dhist-teaching

    If you wish to pick up some Tanahashi, his excellent partial translations (of key portions of Shobogenzo) have been available for many years, less of a major investment ...

    Moon in a Dewdrop

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/086...pf_rd_i=507846

    Enlightenment Unfolds

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...pf_rd_i=507846

    Now, I have written a couple of things too on "How to Read Dogen" (if "read" is the best word for it ... hmmm) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-to-Read-Dogen

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-20-2013 at 01:59 AM.

  3. #3

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Thank you for that Jundo!

    BTW; since you've mention Kaz Tanahashi he is actually coming to NY to give a talk about his completed translation on the Shobogenzo. Hopefully I can join...if so I'll let you know how that went.


    *deep bow*


    Seiryu

  4. #4

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Let me add that I just completed something like my third or fourth cover to cover reading of all 4 Volumes of the Nishijima-Cross Shobogenzo translation ... this time, reading line by line with at least one other translation (either Tanahashi, Soto Zen Text Project or Shasta Abbey) ... plus the original classical Japanese version to compare and "spot check" (my classical Japanese is functional) ...

    ... and I was more MOVED AND ASTOUNDED than ever at the detail and precisions which Chodo Cross and Nishijima Roshi brought into their translation. Virtually nothing is left out, not a word. What is more, when compared with what the others had to say, Nishijima-Cross hit the most widely accepted meaning and interpretation 99 out of 100 times. It is a masterwork, and I cannot tell you the scholarship, dedication and skill involved in pulling it off. Not only is Dogen written in 13th century Japanese (imagine translating Shakespeare into Japanese or Chinese, and you will understand a little of what it means to come the other way), but he would take off in such wordplay and "double/triple entendre" ... well, amazing.

    In fact, the one thing about the Nishijima-Cross version is that it is so detailed, so precise, so faithful to the grammar of the original ... that it is often not smooth to read, and loses some of the poetic style and bounce in the original. That is why Tanahashi is more recommended to the non-scholar as the best intersection of lovely style, readability and accuracy.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    very psyched to put the Nishijima-Cross Shobogenzo on my ipad. Jundo, your guidance in this is much appreciated. *gassho*

  6. #6

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    I love the free online translations, but I'm kind of old school; I really like the look and feel of holding a book. There's just something comfy about it. I don't know how to explain it; I think I should have been a librarian. hahahaha (btw, your library is very impressive Jundo; I forget which sit along it was featured in, but very nice)

    In any case, I read the online translations, but I'm looking into getting the cross/nishijima books on amazon. They are pretty reasonably priced.

  7. #7

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    ... deleted, my post was chronologically out of date ...

  8. #8

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    I NEED that Tanahashi translation! :shock: 8)

    By the way,
    What do you think of the Bob Myers translations? Bendowa and several other works are available online for free and you can also get them in a book called First Dogen Book.

    I like the translations I've read so far, in some cases I have even understood parts that were unclear before, but he doesn't have any "real" credentials, so I can't be sure the understanding is correct. But the flow and clarity is great.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  9. #9

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    What do you think of the Bob Myers translations? Bendowa and several other works are available online for free and you can also get them in a book called First Dogen Book.
    Hi,

    I have had some email exchanges with Bob Myers on some of his translations. I feel he is just someone doing this work as his personal calling, following what his heart tells him it means to him, not particularly a linguist or scholar or faithful to the original. In a nutshell, Bob Myer's translations are very personal to him. I do not feel that they really capture what Dogen was on about, and boil it into a too simple "non-dual" lesson.

    Take, for example, the timeless opening words of Genjo Koan ...

    Kaz Tanahashi (with Aitken Roshi) has

    As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.

    Nishijima Roshi and Chodo Cross have

    When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas.
    Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all.


    Bob Myers has it as ...

    As truth dawns on the world, you look at things and you see the question of enlightenment, you see practice, you see beginnings and see endings, you see saints, you see sinners. But once you’ve stripped things of their selves, you no longer see confusion, nor enlightenment, nor wise people nor normal people, nor birth nor death. In the end, finally, life and death become one, confusion and clarity become one, life and death become one, the holy and the mundane become one. For at its heart the true way transcends all opposites. But these are just abstractions. You know the flower blossoms you so adore? They will nevertheless wither and fall. You know the weeds you so detest? They will nevertheless flourish and spread.

    I feel that there is a bit too much "Bob Myers" in that.

    Gassho, J

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Hi

    My teacher Mike Cross did an amazing work translating the Shobogenzo. A Donkey work of translating as he used to put it. So many years of his life going from his notes and work to the office of Nishijima to get some things clarified and back to his work. Word by word, line by line. He pulled it off. Driven by an uncompromizing will to the truth and serving Master Dogen with his all body-mind. The generations to come will learn to appreciate his effort. His version is not as sweet and flowing as the Kaz's version, because he could not care less about the sound of things. All he was about was the clarity of it all. I love both translations. Because I care about poetry and sound and also care about precision. Beauty and truth, yet not far apart .

    gassho

    Taigu

  11. #11

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I have had some email exchanges with Bob Myers on some of his translations. I feel he is just someone doing this work as his personal calling, following what his heart tells him it means to him, not particularly a linguist or scholar or faithful to the original. In a nutshell, Bob Myer's translations are very personal to him. I do not feel that they really capture what Dogen was on about, and boil it into a too simple "non-dual" lesson.

    Take, for example, the timeless opening words of Genjo Koan ...
    Yes, that is what I was afraid of and judging from your examples, he takes quite a lot of artistic liberty with the text. When you have nothing to compare it with, the language is beautifully flowing and the message clear. But Dogen probably shouldn't be this easy to understand, or rather, he should probably be understood in many different ways, on many different planes.

    Thank you very much both Jundo and Taigu. This is not an unimportant matter I feel.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  12. #12

    Re: The Shobogenzo

    Very interesting. Thank you for the comparative passages. Amazing how different each is.

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