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Thread: shobogenzo

  1. #1


    Just thought some of you might be interested in this online translation of the shobogenzo with notes courtesy of Shasta Abbey

  2. #2
    Thanks Kev. I have gotten so many links to interesting websites lately that I am getting overwhelmed by it all,


  3. #3
    yeh, sorry, I know the feeling, but it seemed pretty good to me to have the whole of the shobogenzo translated with comments and free.

    I was going to ask actually if there is a trnslation that anyone would particularly recommend if I was to buy one. I see Jundo has been using 2 for his (great) talks on the genjo koan.

    In gassho, Kev

  4. #4
    Hope I didn't sound ungrateful. Kev - that looks like a really good comprehensive website you pointed me to. I'm starting to wonder if we need to buy any Zen books at all with there being so much good material on the web!


  5. #5

  6. #6
    Hi Kev,

    Wow, thanks for pointing that out. I've never seen a complete translation as a PDF before. That's a great resource.


  7. #7
    That is indeed great!
    Thanks for the post!


  8. #8
    Thanks so much for posting this link and recommendation. I have had the very great pleasure of knowing and working with Rev. Hubert Nearman whilst I was at Shasta. The unbelievably meticulous care he has taken with this translation is evident in what I've seen and read. (As he mentions, he did the first 11 chapters early on and these have been in published form for many years.) He has devoted his life and practice every day for many years to finishing this and I am so grateful that he has been able to do so before he leaves this world. (He is quite elderly and his health has been fragile for some time.)

    This is a truly great offering by a very fine monk.

    In Gassho~


  9. #9
    Hi Guys,

    [Lynn, I was writing this, I guess, simultaneously with your posting. I have to offer a bit of criticism of the translation. Also, see my message below] ...

    I have now read a few sections of this translation. Be cautious. It is highly interpretive, and diverges very far from about any other translation and the traditional understanding of sections. For example, compare the Shasta Abbey Genjo Koan with other translations ... Here is a sentence we just discussed the other day on the blog ...

    First, look at the boldface phrase from Shasta Abbey:

    When Buddhas are truly Buddhas, They need not perceive that They Themselves are Buddha. Even so, having awakened to Their Buddha Nature, They will carry along with Themselves Their confirmation of Their Buddha Nature.

    ... and then compare with several prior translations ...

    1-When buddhas are truly buddhas, they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddha. [TA}
    2-When Buddhas are truly Buddhas, there is no need for them to perceive they are Buddhas. Yet they are realized, fully confirmed Buddhas—and they go on realizing Buddhahood continuously.[WA]
    3-When buddhas are truly buddhas they do not need to be aware of being buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas and further actualize buddhahood.[Jaffe]
    4-When buddhas are really buddhas, they do not need to recognize themselves as buddhas. Nevertheless, they experience the state of buddha, and they go on experiencing the state of buddha.[Nishijima]
    5-When the Buddhas are indeed the Buddhas, there is no need to be self-conscious of being Buddhas; nevertheless it is realizing buddhahood—Buddhas go on realizing.[Cleary] ... htm#nish11

    They really diverge in meaning and feel at key points with the older translations and what I understand as the original meaning, and I think that the Shasta Abbey version is off key. It feels more like the King James bible in style, perhaps? Use caution.

    The version of the Genjo in modernized form by my Dharma Brother Michael Leutchford [by the way, I do not give compliments to Mike easily, but this is very nice ] ...

    It is not necessary to be aware of being buddha. We are still buddhas, and we go on experiencing the state of buddha, whether we know it or not.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Hi Jundo...

    I can see where you would be wise to caution, given your examples. I spent so much time reading these translations and delving into them through teachings from the Abbot that I read them differently than most people might (ie, I know the "codes" as it were.) So, I can see where you are coming from.

    I think Rev. Master Jiyu asked Rev. Hubert to maintain the medieval flavour of the writings regardless of the fact that it would be read by a contemporary audience. (Rev. Hubert's expertise is in medieval Japanese language.) This might be what you are interpreting as King James-ish (not to mention the capitalizations?) I'm digging back into memory that might not be serving me correctly, but I believe she was of the opinion that trying to get it more "modernized" would lose too much in the translation even as it was helping to make it a bit more accessible. In other words, when you read, say, the chapter on the monk's bowl as Rev. Hubert has translated, although seeming a bit archaic, one also can find the depths of layers resounding through it. Or, perhaps I should say, that I do, moreso than I have with more modern translations which seem a little flat.

    I think the essence is the same in all the examples of that you gave, including Shata's. The presentation is, most definitely, different. Perhaps beginner's would not benefit from Shasta's presentation.

    BTW, aren't all interpretations highly interpretive? Anyway, I'm not a translator. So, I know nothing on this.

    Just my $.02, NSHO, copper for the coffers etc.

    In Gassho~


  11. #11
    And lest you think I am just *full of opinions on the thing :lol: I offer this true life observation:

    I watched Rev. Hubert consult ten people from around the world (mostly Soto monks from Japan) who had knowledge of medieval Japanese language, and they went back and forth via email and phone calls for just under 3 weeks to come to what all agreed was the best interpretation of a SINGLE word of the translation. This scenario was repeated often.

    Please understand that this translation, while offered (and, therefore endorsed) through Shasta and written down by one monk, was highly collaborative to the nth degree. This is not the interpretation of one man alone sitting in an ivory tower with a bunch of Shasta Abbey "yes monks" nodding with insipid smiles saying, "oh wonderful, Rev. Hubert, marvelous, Rev. Hubert...." nor is he just a mouthpiece for Rev. Master Jiyu.

    Meh. Ok...I'm taking my opinions and going off to work now...

    In Gassho~


  12. #12
    Hi Lynn,

    Yes, I just spent the last half hour rushing back home to the computer, because I felt my word "caution" was much two strong and I should correct it fast. Better to say, "one should see it in perspective", just for the very reasons you discuss. What you get past the words, and the style of the words, the heart is there.

    Sorry for my inelegant way of saying it.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13

    I seem to have inadvertently opened a can of worms

    I take it that Mike Leutchford's translation is the one you'd recommend if I dig into my pockets to buy one?

    I'm no translater but as Lynne suggests I would assume they are all interpretations (due to language and transferring to modern times) and some people prefer one to another,otherwise we'd not have any different versions, but I note your comments Jundo as some one who has far more knowledge than me.


  14. #14
    Hi Again,

    Even worms have Buddha nature.

    I would do what I try to do for folks on the Blog, which is take several versions (especially the versions that are considered by scholars as adequate ... there are more than a few that are just dubious) and, through their differences in words and tone, triangulate and extrapolate the likely original intent of Dogen behind the words. Michael Leutchford's is highly readable, but may lose something for that reason. The Nishijima-Cross version is considered very faithful (for the most part) to the wording and grammar, very literal, but may lose readability for that reason. Others are somewhere in between, and that also has the problem of compromise. They should all just go into the mix with all the other translations, I think, and we can see the moon to which they are all pointing.

    Also, as Lynn says, much as in interpreting poetry (T.S.Elliot and James Joyce come to mind), all interpretations are interpretations, trying to express the core beyond words.

    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15
    But is not the core beyond mere words? :wink:

  16. #16
    Shasta Abbey, to me at least, appears to be coloured by Christianity. Some of the terminology used, as well as the overall tone is rather preachy in a Christian way.

    I do agree with Harry in that it appears that the essential heart of Dogens words is missing from Rev. Nearman's translation/interpretation.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Shasta Abbey, to me at least, appears to be coloured by Christianity.
    Well, that just means that it is a different perspective or flavor of Zen Practice, perhaps. Each his own. Each with its own values and demerits. Sure, there is likely something to criticize there. There is certainly much to criticize everywhere, including Treeleaf Zendo.

    (I hope you don't expect me to say that my lineage, or ME for that matter, are "the best of all" and everyone else in the universe has it wrong. I certainly will not! I think my way of teaching is True and Valid for me and those folks with whom it rings. Other folks may hear the universe's music from other seats in the big theatre of life).

    Lynn was there for several years, and can speak to this much better than I can, but I do understand that Kennett Roshi did model the structure of the "Abbey", and many of the rituals, costumes and styles, on something generally resembling the Anglican practices. I know that their beautiful chants are very close to "Evensong" or Gregorian Chants. And it may have a mystical flavor, given the tendency of Kennett Roshi to see visions and hear voices, which were incorporated into their practices.

    Now, that being said, I did caution students about the Shasta Abbey Shobogenzo, as it may have that flavor and that perspective, which is not the flavor or perspective that I encourage here. I don't give much clearance to mystical visions and voices. But, that just means that they may play their music a little differently from the way I would play it.

    Does that may sense?

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18
    Please understand that my comment is meant to be neither negative nor positive, just simply an observation.

    The Chinese in their adoption of Buddhism mingled in Taoism and Confucian thought along with other folk religions, the Japanese Shinto, and the Tibetans Bon. It is probably to be expected that those from other religious backgrounds will draw from their backgrounds when interpreting Buddhist teachings.


  19. #19
    hmmm coyote for me.

  20. #20
    I can see what you say about the Anglicanism and Rev Master Kennet did train in music at Durham in the UK (seat of christianity here) but being a bit of an anti christ :lol: I would run a mile if it were so blatant.

    I managed to get to my local soto zen group (of Rev Master Jiyu's line) the other night to sit and I have to say to chant the scripture of great wisdom in plain chant before sitting was rather loveley. saying that to sit with others for a change was great in itself and to sit is the priority in the group too.

    The ceremonies at the Abbey itself can have a bit of flourish but not excesively and sitin is still just sitting.

    If anyone han't heard the way it is done I could mail you an mp3 of some of the chants from Throssel Hole Abbey in the UK to your normal email addy if you pm me. Don't seem to be able to post mp3 here.

    As you rightly stated before, Jundo, you, your practise and teaching are what they are, I guess I just felt the need to speak up for my Soto Zen local mob

    In gassho, Kev

  21. #21

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    hmmm coyote for me.
    Can we expect trouble if an adherent of 'Roadrunner Zen' comes on the scene :?:



  23. #23
    Thanks for finding them Jun

    They're not something for musical entertainment, but when you are part of it it certainly helps with that sanga feeling.

    I think the improtant thing to remember is that they are short part of what happens. At our group, for instance, the 'opening ceremony' at he beginning is about 10 minutes and sometimes is not alot more than reading 'rules for meditation'. This is usually followed by 25 min zazen, 5 min kinshin, 25min zazen. This is not at the Abbey but our local group.

    In my opinion, it does help form and hold a group and also means a chance to say or chant one of the scriptures and perhaps gain an insight, something I guess most of us don't do regularly?

    So best of lots of worlds, ones own zazen, a sangas zazen, ones own reading/chanting, a groups reading/chanting, zazen plus 'reading's, zazen with music, . A bit of a 'multi-vitamin and mineral' zazen taken once a week :lol:

    Oh forgot to mention the important closing...tea and biscuits afterwards, love it when some one brings jaffa cakes

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    hmmm coyote for me.
    Can we expect trouble if an adherent of 'Roadrunner Zen' comes on the scene :?:



  25. #25

  26. #26
    I hope that is an ACME(tm) personal torture device.

  27. #27
    Jun wrote:
    I must say, for me at least, it is rather off putting.
    Just curious, why do you find it off putting?


  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    Jun wrote:
    I must say, for me at least, it is rather off putting.
    Just curious, why do you find it off putting?

    I'll keep that one to myself.


  29. #29
    Hi Jun,
    That's OK, didn't mean to pry.


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