Taigen Leighton

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:


Eihei Dōgen (b. 1200–d. 1253) was a Japanese monk, ordained in Tendai, who visited China in 1223–1227 and returned to teach in the Caodong/Sōtō tradition. Considered the founder of the Japanese Sōtō school, his large body of writings are noted for their philosophical depths and evocative, poetic quality. Dōgen’s practice emphasizes zazen, or sitting meditation as a dynamic expression of universal, underlying Buddha nature. He established Eiheiji monastery, still one of the two headquarter temples of the Sōtō school, and emphasized the application of meditative awareness to everyday activities in the monastery, such as cooking and cleaning. Dōgen was most important historically for training a cadre of monks, who over the next several generations spread Sōtō Zen widely in the Japanese countryside. Dōgen’s writings express Mahayana perspectives of interconnectedness and nonduality and famously address the deep awareness and practice of temporal complexity in his teaching of “being time.” Although Dōgen is noted for his meditation teaching, he also wrote collections of koans, and his mastery of the Song Chan encounter dialogue, or koan literature, is remarkable. With a great deal of his writings involving various styles of commentary on the traditional encounter dialogues, he should be regarded as the introducer of this koan literature to Japan. Historically, from the century after his death, his writings were read only by Sōtō priest scholars until they were popularized in the early 20th century. Translations of Dōgen’s writings and spread of Sōtō practice centers have been important to the spread of Buddhism in the West, accompanied by a plethora of contemporary writings about Dōgen.

Article.  8736 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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