Book Excerpts, Chinese Poetry, Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Snow Makes a Mountain

In addition to the volumes of essays and lectures on Zen and Zen practice, Dogen also expressed himself and his teachings through poetry. This particular verse, which reflects on a moment of realization in which the poet's mind underwent a profound perceptive shift, is written in a Chinese style. The translation is Philip Whalen and… Continue reading Snow Makes a Mountain

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts

Dogen – Remember That You Are Alive Only Today In This Moment

In a world where a certain kind of intellectualism is valued over many other human capacities, it's easy to feel inferior to those we perceive to be smarter than ourselves and to imagine that the things that we do not understand with our intellect will somehow hold us back from a more profound experience of… Continue reading Dogen – Remember That You Are Alive Only Today In This Moment

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Waka is a Japanese word for poem that surfaced more than a millenium ago to differentiate the Chinese kanshi poems from the work of local scribes. A waka can have a long or short form, and the short ones can often read like haikus, a poetic embodiment of transience. This short one was written by… Continue reading Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Dogen, Japanese Texts

What is Essential is Only to Understand with Immediacy – from Dogen’s Hokyo-ki

The Hokyo-ki is a short memoir written by Dogen later in his life that chronicles his exchanges with Master Ju-ching (Tendo Nyojo in Japanese, also known as Rujing). Dogen only spent two years studying under Ju-ching at his monastery on Mount Tiantong, but the master's teachings were highly transformative for the young Japanese monk and… Continue reading What is Essential is Only to Understand with Immediacy – from Dogen’s Hokyo-ki

Dogen, Texts

The Genjo-koan (Part 2)

This is the second part of Dogen Zenji's Genjo-koan, (read the first part here), one of the most fundamental chapters of the Shobogenzo which illustrates the key tenets of Soto Zen philosophy. In this second half of the text, Dogen talks about the mystery of knowing the elements we live in and how practice occurs… Continue reading The Genjo-koan (Part 2)

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts

The Genjo-koan (Part 1)

The Genjo-koan, whose name can be translated as 'Realizing the Heart of the Matter', is one of the key chapters in Master Dogen's voluminous Shobogenzo. The Genjo-koan cuts to the heart of Dogen's teaching and presents us with the fundamental tenets of Zen practice as well as an account of its distinct phenomenology. This version… Continue reading The Genjo-koan (Part 1)

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts

Fukanzazengi – Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen

The Fukanzazengi is a text written by Japanese master Dogen shortly after his return from Japan in the later 1220s. The Fukanzazenki provides us with the most fundamental instructions for zazen that details the ideal environment and posture for practice.   Fukanzazengi The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent upon… Continue reading Fukanzazengi – Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen