Happy birthday to Dogen Zenji

Eihei Dogen, the founder of the Soto Zen school in Japan, was born on this day in 1200; 814 years later, his writings continue to shape the way Buddhism is practiced and understood by many around the world.

To mark the day, consider checking out the Buddhadharma forum “Understanding Dogen” and Kazuaki Tanahashi’s article “Moment by Moment Nirvana,” the introduction to his complete translation of Dogen’s magnum opus, Shobogenzo (reviewed by Norman Fischer here alongside other translations). Scholarship on Dogen has exploded in the last few decades — for hints of where to look for analysis of Dogen’s teachings and worldview, take a look at this review of Receiving the Marrow, a collection of teachings on Dogen by Zen women priests, and this review of Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism, which examines the aesthetic sensibilities of both Dogen and Kukai, the founder of the Shingon school.

If you want to dive into Dogen’s actual writings, a good place to start is with Shohaku Okumura, abbot of Sanshinji (see an excerpt of his profile from our current issue) and a Dogen scholar. Excellent recordings of his in-depth analysis of, and teachings on, Shobogenzo (from study-based retreats called genzo-e), are available for purchase and download from Sanshinji.