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Thread: After Dogen

  1. #1

    After Dogen

    I was thinking about how we view the past, i considered dogen and how we only know him in the context of his recorded religious thought and interpretation.But what about all the other sides of these beings, same with the koans reflecting other masters, we will never know all the other sides too the picture.One could use mahayana rhetoric to make this inquiry useless but im actually looking for some thought maybe.. Also i think a lot about all the other people who succeeded Dogen. In my lineage and what i observed in others is Dogen is pretty much the only master really referenced too even when quoting other masters like keizan its simply there comments on Dogens writing.Dogen was a sound spiritual master but didn't these others successors transmit the dharma also? In the rinzai tradition they same to reference many masters for their own unique teachings and this may because of koan practice....I'm just thinking and this is an interesting part of soto.When i think of soto i think of zazen and dogen and thats the lay of the land...Also does anyone know if their is any physical evidence of dogens body or family or something like that...I'm just curious...Don't get me wrong Dogen has shed light to my practice experience over and over again. Anyways i thought this might be a good topic to inquire into.

  2. #2

    Re: After Dogen

    Hi Trevor,

    Well, Dogen was a man of flesh and blood, not just words on a page. Buddha too and everyone else all up and down the line. So, if met off the pages as "flesh and blood", they would exhibit more dimensions, more humanity, than just the old polished stories about them disclose sometimes. I feel so.

    Dogen referenced the stories and teachings of hundreds of teachers before him, and so do we and most current Soto teachers I know ... referencing the stories of countless Zen teachers before and after Dogen (and not only about what they had to say about Dogen).

    I have seen Dogen's grave at Eiheiji ... though, for sure, can't be sure who is in it! Can't say much about his family because, well, the monk Dogen did not have any children. :shock: Of course, we might all be called "his family."

    Dogen is not the be all and end all of "beginningless endless" Zen, or even "Soto Zen" ... just one very very very very gifted and creative teacher. Much the same as neither Coltrane or Miles Davis were the beginning and end of "jazz" (although "jazz" would not be what it is without Coltrane and Miles!) 8)

    viewtopic.php?p=42367#p42367

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: After Dogen

    Jundo wrote: I have seen Dogen's grave at Eiheiji ... though, for sure, can't be sure who is in it! Can't say much about his family because, well, the monk Dogen did not have any children. Of course, we might all be called "his family."

    Hi Jundo Sensei. Just wanted to hear more about your visit to Eheiji. From what I've read in the book Eat Sleep Sit it appears that very few are allowed into the sanctuary enshrining Dogen's ashes.

    here is a quote from this book:
    "Straight ahead hangs calligraphy by Emperor Meiji, reading Joyo, a name posthumously given to Dogen in 1879. Below that, between circular pillars, stately vermilion stairs lead up into a dark recess where there is a sanctuary enshrining Dogen's ashes. The stairs, which only a handful of people with exalted qualifications are allowed to climb, exuded a mysterious air."

    I study Japanese Tea Ceremony and our school(Urasenke) is located in Kyoto. On the family grounds(Konnichian) there is a shrine(Rikyu Onsodo) to Sen No Rikyu, the man who codified the tea ceremony over 400 years ago. In this shrine there is a very famous statue of Rikyu. Few people are allowed in to see it. My wife's teacher in Japan who had been studying over 35 years has never been able to see it, but my teacher(a gaijin) has.....a couple of times!! There are drawbacks to being a gaijin but sometimes there is special perks as well!

    Well whatever the case it would be great to hear more about your visit(training??) at Eiheiji.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: After Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Well whatever the case it would be great to hear more about your visit(training??) at Eiheiji.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi John,

    No, I was not allowed to climb the stairs, just look up them. So, that may be even more proof that Dogen is not there! :shock:

    I did not train at Eiheiji, but was a two day visitor. It was wonderful to participate in their huge Morning Service, with perhaps 100 Soto priests together reciting the Heart Sutra (here is a similar ceremony at sister temple Sojiji, though the REALPLAYER video quality is poor. Notice the fanning of the Sutra books toward the end, an esoteric "reading" of the content++) ...

    http://teishoin.net/sound/shingyo2.ram

    ... but the rest was much like staying in a Disney hotel, with loads of visitors coming by bus. I did get to sit a bit of Zazen in the visitors area, have tea with some of the priests there who I knew from elsewhere, and I did see several young monks being scolded as good as any marine boot camp sargeant could do. A bit touristy now for my taste, although I am sure that is not the experience of the monks training there. Here is an excerpt from "Eat Sleep Sit" which gives a taste of that eye opening book.

    viewtopic.php?p=23611#p23611

    My teacher, Nishijima, considers it now not a spiritual place, so much as a training camp conveyor belt to turn out young priests equipped to take over their father's temple. He is a critic of the system.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ++ Observe the monks, with their fancy footwork, distributing copies of the Sutra books, bound in hard cases, for "tendoku" ritual reading of the 600-fascicle Large Prajña Paramita Sutra (tendoku ritual reading involves shouting the title and volume number of the sutra, then quickly flipping through the sutra book itself)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: After Dogen

    Thank you for your reply Jundo Sensei.
    I must say that i was shocked when i read this book. But i suppose that is due in part of my western way of thinking. You know, everyone entitled to equality and rights, etc. As well as the fact that my experience with Zen has been pretty gentle. When i discussed this book with my wife she was curious and looked up book reviews about it from Japan. Much to my surprise many people said they wanted to study there after reading the book! I was like "WHAT??". Did they read the same book? I mean those fledgling monks were severely ill treated(?). In the end Im not sure if these differences in reaction to the same book are cultural or just the opinions of those few who read and reviewed it.

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: After Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Thank you for your reply Jundo Sensei.
    I must say that i was shocked when i read this book. But i suppose that is due in part of my western way of thinking. You know, everyone entitled to equality and rights, etc. As well as the fact that my experience with Zen has been pretty gentle. When i discussed this book with my wife she was curious and looked up book reviews about it from Japan. Much to my surprise many people said they wanted to study there after reading the book! I was like "WHAT??". Did they read the same book? I mean those fledgling monks were severely ill treated(?). In the end Im not sure if these differences in reaction to the same book are cultural or just the opinions of those few who read and reviewed it.

    Gassho,
    John
    Well, the boot camp experience, no different from becoming a marine, might be right and necessary for some ... like the wild horses that, for a time, may need to be tied down and beaten down (discussed on another thread today ... ) Many corner of Japanese Zen can be very "samurai" and "no pain no gain". They seek to break down the ego/self in the same way that the military does.

    But a stream of water, gentle and perservering, can also travel right through, bend around, merge fully with, even wear fully away the greatest mountains. Taigu and I are more of that flowing kind. Both of us, having seen how the "hard and macho" way in some corners of Zen can be misused as any form of "power trip" or abuse (no better than "hazing" in a college club), and can backfire and hurt more gentle types of people ... rather than "breaking down the ego", it just results in breakdown ...

    ... well, Taigu and I are flowing water. No suffering thus no gain.

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7

    Re: After Dogen

    returning to the original question, as I understood it: Personally I'm no native English speaker, so I have a few troubles on top understanding Dogen. This resulted in Dogen for me not being of such help as in example the teachings of Bodhidharma, Seng-ts'an, or Loori, Sawaki or Warner, which to me seem clearer. I strongly believe we all profit from "our" medicine and we are in the lucky situation that there are many teachers / teachings available to study.
    _()_
    Peter

  8. #8

    Re: After Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lin
    returning to the original question, as I understood it: Personally I'm no native English speaker, so I have a few troubles on top understanding Dogen. This resulted in Dogen for me not being of such help as in example the teachings of Bodhidharma, Seng-ts'an, or Loori, Sawaki or Warner, which to me seem clearer. I strongly believe we all profit from "our" medicine and we are in the lucky situation that there are many teachers / teachings available to study.
    _()_
    Peter
    Not to focus too much on Dogen, but there is at least one German translation of Shobogenzo, this one by my Dharma sister Ritsunen Gabriele Linnebach (with Nishijima Roshi)

    Shobogenzo: Die Schatzkammer des wahren Dharma-Auges.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shobogenzo-Scha ... 404&sr=1-3

    Hans can say much more about it than I can (who reads no German), so I hope he will offer some comment.

    Gassho, J

  9. #9

    Re: After Dogen

    Dear Peter,

    I can highly recommend Gabriele Ritsunen Linnebach's translation. Please make sure you buy the latest edition, because she did revisit the first volume after having finished translating the fourth one.
    http://www.shobogenzo.de/deutsch.html

    Jürgen Yudo Seggelke (another dharma heir of Nishijima Roshi) published four books with commentaries for each chapter:

    http://www.dona-verlag.de/

    Last but not least, Dagmar Doko Waskoenig (another dharma heir of Nishijima Roshi) also published a book with commentaries on some select Shobogenzo chapters a few months ago. You can find more information here:

    http://www.shobogendo.de

    But please be warned, it's all still very challenging and sometimes boring, sometimes inspiring, sometimes just mysterious.

    May I humbly suggest you let your every day sitting do the real "translation" of the Shobogenzo.


    Gassho und viel Freude,

    Hans

  10. #10

    Re: After Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    ...May I humbly suggest you let your every day sitting do the real "translation" of the Shobogenzo.
    Thank you Hans, indeed thats what I found to be a good translation too ;-) Thanks for the additional info and links,
    I dont know why I bought (first of four volumes of) Shobogenzo in English at all :-D
    _()_
    Peter

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: After Dogen

    Hi Peter,

    I just found some fascicles in German here:

    http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/deu/shobogenzo.shtml

    I haven't had time to read any of them yet, but it will be interesting to compare English and German translations.

    Nindo

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