The Shōbōgenzō of Dōgen Zenji
Dogen Zenji ( also known as Dōgen Kigen, Eihei Dōgen) was a Japanese Buddhist priest, writer, poet, philosopher, and founder of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan. He was born in 1200 and died in 1253. In 1223 he undertook the dangerous passage across the East China Sea to China in order to study Zen. Around this time the Mongol Empire was waging wars on the various dynasties of China. Dogen returned to Japan 1228 and began teaching, writing and founding communities of practice.
Dogen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shōbōgenzō), is considered one of the greatest examples of spiritual writings. Consisting of a collection of diverse lectures on doctrines and rituals given by Dogen over the course of twenty years, and further edited by Soto monk-scholars over the centuries, its key passages have been compared to classical philosophy and medieval mysticism, as well as modern psychology, physics, and environmentalism.
Dogen was a strong advocate of shikantaza – “just sitting” meditation (or silent illumination, serene reflection). Dogen taught “practice-realization”… his view was that enlightenment, rather than being a fruit of practice, is practice itself—and that practice is itself enlightenment. Because a great deal of his writing also involves various styles of commentary on the traditional “encounter dialogues” between teachers and students, he could be regarded as the introducer of koan literature to Zen.
“When you first seek dharma, you imagine that you are far away from its environs. At the moment when dharma is correctly transmitted, you are immediately your original self.
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see the boat moves.
Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind, you might suppose your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.
~ Dōgen Zenji