Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation

Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 267
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation
    Book Description:

    Zen Buddhism is perhaps best known for its emphasis on meditation, and probably no figure in the history of Zen is more closely associated with meditation practice than the thirteenth-century Japanese master Dogen, founder of the Soto school. This study examines the historical and religious character of the practice as it is described in Dogen's own meditation texts, introducing new materials and original perspectives on one of the most influential spiritual traditions of East Asian civilization. The Soto version of Zen meditation is known as "just sitting," a practice in which, through the cultivation of the subtle state of "nonthinking," the meditator is said to be brought into perfect accord with the higher consciousness of the "Buddha mind" inherent in all beings. This study examines the historical and religious character of the practice as it is described in Dogen's own meditation texts, introducing new materials and original perspectives on one of the most influential spiritual traditions of East Asian civilization.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90978-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The Zen school is the Meditation school, and the character of Zen can be traced in the tradition of its meditation teaching. Historians have shown us that the origins of the school in China are considerably later and more complicated than the traditional account of the lineage of Bodhidharma would have it and that the early history of the school is in fact a history of the teachings and traditions of several Buddhist meditation communities of the seventh and eighth centuries. If the masters of these communities did not yet see themselves as members of a Ch’an, or Meditation, school,...

  4. Part I: Texts

    • 1 The Earliest Manual and the Origins of Dōgen’s Zen
      (pp. 15-34)

      According to traditional histories, Japanese Sōtō Zen began in 1227. On this date the young Dōgen, fresh from his enlightenment on Mt. T’ien-t’ung, returned to his native soil. Such was the strength of his new conviction and the urgency of his new mission that, almost immediately upon disembarking, he proclaimed the gospel of Sōtō Zen and set to work transmitting to his countrymen the teachings of its Chinese Patriarch, his master, Ju-ching. To this end his first act was the composition of a Zen meditation manual, theFukan zazen gi,in which he enunciated the characteristic Sōtō doctrine of enlightened...

    • 2 The Vulgate Manual and the Development of Dōgen’s Zen
      (pp. 35-52)

      Despite its historical interest and the attention it has attracted from contemporary scholars, the Tenpuku text of theFukan zazen giseems to have had no impact on the development of the Sōtō school. Until its rediscovery in this century, it apparently remained unstudied by the Sōtō masters; in its place, another, somewhat different version of theFukan zazen gigained currency in the school. This version—usually referred to as therufu,or vulgate, text—alone has been the subject of study and commentary by the tradition. The differences in content between the two versions will be discussed in...

  5. Part II: Sources

    • 3 Ch’ang-lu Tsung-tse and the New Meditation Literature
      (pp. 55-77)

      In the preceding chapters I have sketched some of the historical setting for Dōgen’s meditation teachings. Within such a setting the role of his Chinese master—and, indeed, of his Chinese experience in general—in the formation of these teachings becomes rather less clear than is usually maintained. In part, no doubt, this blurring of what we might call spiritual causality follows inevitably from the nature of the historical perspective taken; but a similar phenomenon seems to occur when we shift that perspective slightly from Dōgen’s biography to the textual background of his meditation writings.

      The ideological emphases on Dōgen’s...

    • 4 The Sudden Practice and the Ch’an Meditation Discourse
      (pp. 78-106)

      In the preceding chapter I have suggested that, whatever the supposed precedents for theTso-ch’an i,Tsung-tse’s manual is best understood as a new kind of Buddhist text, created in a new religious environment and intended for a new audience. Despite what Dōgen and the Zen tradition may have thought, it is probably not based on the Ch’an teachings of Po-chang; contrary to the approach of one prominent modern interpretation, it is not merely the abbreviation of a T’ien-t’ai manual by Chih-i. Still, if we can question the historical premises of these two views, their disagreement over the religious character,...

  6. Part III: Teachings

    • 5 The Essential Art of Meditation and the Authentic Tradition of Enlightenment
      (pp. 109-132)

      TheFukan zazen giis by no means merely a practical manual on the techniques of contemplation: it is also—and perhaps more conspicuously—a theological statement of the Zen approach to Buddhism and a literary appreciation of Zen training. The text falls into three fairly distinct and roughly equal sections. Of these, only the middle section offers concrete advice on the procedures to be followed in meditation. Here, as I have indicated, Dōgen is largely content to follow Tsung-tse’sTso-ch’an i—albeit with occasional, sometimes interesting, omissions and additions. In contrast the introductory section, in which Dōgen expounds the...

    • 6 Nonthinking and the Practice of the Seated Buddha
      (pp. 133-160)

      If the autograph manuscript of theFukan zazen gialready displays some of the characteristic flavor of Dōgen’s Zen, the vulgate text, to which I want to turn in this chapter, is vintage Dōgen. Written a decade or more after the original, Tenpuku version, it is a more mature expression of his writing. Generally speaking, the style has been somewhat refined, and one or two of the more self-conscious passages have been omitted. Also omitted are several passages—some of them quite important—that had been taken over in the original work from theTso-ch’an i. In their place has...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 161-170)

    In my discussion of theFukan zazen giI have pointed to two general themes in Dōgen’s approach to the teaching of meditation that seem to distinguish his style from that of Tsung-tse: like many in the Ch’an tradition, he is careful always to bind his practice with its theory and present it as an expression of the higher wisdom of the supreme vehicle; perhaps more than most in the tradition, he is concerned to ground his practice in history and identify it with the orthodox transmission of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. The emphasis on these two themes—and the...

  8. Documents

    • Document 1 “On the Origin of the ‘Principles of Seated Meditation’”
      (pp. 173-173)

      The original manuscript of this note, thought to be in Dōgen’s own hand, is untitled. The text appears at DZZ.2:6 under the title supplied by Ōkubo Dōshū: “Fukan zazen gi senjutsu yurai.” It has previously been translated into English in Waddell and Abe, “Dōgen’s Fukanzazengi and Shōbōgenzō zazengi.” Bold type here indicates phrases, undecipherable in the manuscript, that are translated from Ōkubo’s reconstruction.

      The treasury of the eye of the truedharma,separately transmitted outside scripture, has never been heard of in our kingdom, much less has any “Principles of Seated Meditation” been transmitted to us. When I returned to...

    • Documents 2 : A—E “Principles of Seated Meditation”: A Comparative Translation of Dōgen’s Meditation Manuals
      (pp. 174-187)

      This table compares (B) the Tenpuku version of theFukan zazen gi(FKZZG [i]) with the following:

      A. CYCK: Tsung-tse’sCh’an-yiian ch’ing-kuei Tso-ch’an i

      C. FKZZG (2):Kōroku Fukan zazen gi

      D. SBGZ:Shōbō genzō zazen gi

      E. BDH:Bendō hō, “zazen hō”section

      For convenience of comparison, the following conventions have been used:

      Boldface: a. in CYCK, passages common to FKZZG (1)

      b. in other texts, passages common to CYCK

      Italics:a. in FKZZG, passages not common to (1) and (2)

      b. in other texts, passages not common to FKZZG

      Fukan zazen gi(2) has been translated into English...

    • Document 3 “Lancet of Seated Meditation”
      (pp. 188-206)

      This translation of Dōgen’sShōbō genzō zazen shinis based on the edition published at DZZ. 1: 90—101, which generally follows the text of an early manuscript, preserved at Kōfuku ji, in Kumamoto, thought by some to be in Dōgen’s own hand. (See Mizuno Yaoko, “Shōbō genzō no shohon sono ta ni tsuite,” in the introduction toShōbō genzō Shōbō genzō zuimon ki,ed. by Nishio Minoru et al.,Nikon koten bungaku taikei81 [1965], 51—52. The manuscript has been published inDōgen zenji shinseki kankei shiryō shū[1980], 421-34.) Such minor variants as exist in other texts...

  9. Glossary of Chinese and Japanese Names and Terms
    (pp. 207-228)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 229-244)
  11. Index
    (pp. 245-259)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-262)