Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies

Oxford University Press
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In this groundbreaking collection of essays edited by Steven Heine, leading scholars of Buddhism from both sides of the Pacific explore the life and thought of Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253), the founder of the Japanese Soto sect. Through both textual and historical analysis, the volume shows Dogen in context of the Chinese Chan tradition that influenced him and demonstrates the tremendous, lasting impact he had on Buddhist thought and culture in Japan. Special attention is given to the Shobogenzo and several of its fascicles, which express D?gen's views on such practices and rituals as using supranormal powers (jinzu), reading the sutras (kankin), diligent training in zazen meditation (shikan taza), and the koan realized in everyday life (genjokoan). Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies also analyzes the historical significance of this seminal figure: for instance, Dogen's methods of appropriating or contrasting with Chan sources, as well as how Dogen was understood and examined in later periods, including modern times. This book is a crucial contribution to the advancement of specialized studies of Dogen, as well as to the Chan/Zen school in the context of East Asian religions and their social and historical trends.
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About the author

Steven Heine is an authority on Japanese religion and society, especially the history of Zen Buddhism and the life and works of Dogen. He has published two dozen books, including Did Dogen Go to China? (2006), Zen Skin, Zen Marrow (2010), and Zen Masters (2010).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2012
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Pages
312
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ISBN
9780199923175
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Buddhism / History
Religion / Buddhism / Zen
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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With the growing popularity of Zen Buddhism in the West, virtually everyone knows, or thinks they know, what a koan is: a brief and baffling question or statement that cannot be solved by the logical mind and which, after sustained concentration, can lead to sudden enlightenment. But the truth about koans is both simpler--and more complicated--than this. In Opening a Mountain, Steven Heine shows that koans, and the questions we associate with them--such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"--are embedded in larger narratives and belong to an ancient Buddhist tradition of "encounter dialogues." These dialogues feature dramatic and often inscrutable contests between masters and disciples, or between masters and an array of natural and supernatural forces: rouge priests, "wild foxes," hermits, wizards, shapeshifters, magical animals, and dangerous women. To establish a new monastery, "to open a mountain," the Zen master had to tame these wild forces in regions most remote from civilization. In these extraordinary encounters, fingers and arms are cut off, pitchers are kicked over, masters appear in and interpret each other's dreams, and seemingly absurd statements are shown to reveal the deepest insights. Heine restores these koans to their original traditions, allowing readers to see both the complex elements of Chinese culture and religion that they reflect and the role they played in Zen's transformation of local superstitions into its own teachings. Offering a fresh approach to one of the most crucial elements of Zen Buddhism, Opening a Mountain is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the full story behind koans and the mysterious worlds they come from.
It is said that in traditional Japan the samurai embraced Zen because it helped them to be fearless in adversity, to act quickly and decisively, and to keep focused on their ultimate goal. In White Collar Zen, Steven Heine shows how, by applying Zen principles in our working lives, we can achieve the same results for ourselves. Heine describes the way Zen embraces two different yet harmonious paths. The Way of the Hermit teaches detachment--the mental clarity you need to view your situation dispassionately and impartially, to perceive who is an ally and who is a competitor, to understand what is possible and what is not. The Way of the Warrior teaches the ability to act without hesitation at the proper moment. Together, they can prepare you to meet the challenges of the modern professional world. Heine offers a step-by-step approach to attaining these skills and applying them in daily life. Using real-world examples interwoven with sayings and stories from the Zen tradition, he shows how Zen can help in situations ranging from gaining a deserved promotion to overcoming obstacles that arise from a breakdown in teamwork. He makes it clear that in Zen the path to personal success must be one that values integrity, respects every individual, emphasizes cooperation, and serves the goals of the larger group. Replete with practical advice, White Collar Zen will appeal to many of the same readers who have made The Art of War and The Book of Five Rings so successful. It will certainly fascinate anyone interested in applying Zen principles to achieving professional excellence.
In this book, each of the chapters offers an analysis of the origins and development of an important aspect of Japanese culture, including religion (Pure Land Buddhism and Zen, Shinto and folk religions, Confucianism and Tokugawa era ideology), philosophy (classical Buddhism and the contemporary Kyoto School), literature and the arts (medieval poetry and drama, modern fiction and films), and social behavior (family system, feminism, nationalism, and economic growth).

The central, underlying theme is the uniqueness and creativity of Japan as seen from twentieth century perspectives. One of the fascinating things about Japanese culture is that, on the one hand, it seems to have held onto its traditional foundations with a greater sense of determination and celebration than most societies and, at the same time, it appears to have attained a position at the forefront of international modernist and postmodernist developments. The authors explore several approaches to this issue. One school of thought is influenced by recent Japanese writers and intellectual historians such as Mishima, Tanizaki, Watsuji, and Nakamura. Another approach is influenced by Western poststructuralist commentators such as Barthes, Derrida, and Lyotard. A third approach is to argue against the thesis known as nihonjinron ("Japanism" or cultural exceptionalism), by suggesting that the notion of Japanese uniqueness is itself a cultural myth generated by nationalist and particularist trends originating in the Tokugawa era.

The volume features an essay by Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, entitled "Japan, the Dubious, and Myself."
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