Dogen: Japan’s Original Zen Teacher
By Steven Heine (Shambhala Publiations, December 21, 2021)
The founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan, Eihei Dogen (1200–1253) is one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of all time. Although Dogen’s writings have reached wide prominence among contemporary Buddhists and philosophers, there is much that remains enigmatic about his life and writings. In Dogen: Japan’s Original Zen Teacher, respected Dogen scholar and translator Steven Heine offers a nuanced portrait of the master’s historical context, life, and work, paying special attention to issues such as:
- The nature of the “great doubt” that motivated Dogen’s religious quest
- The sociopolitical turmoil of Kamakura Japan that led to dynamic innovations in medieval Japanese Buddhism
- The challenges and transformations Dogen experienced during his pivotal time in China
- Key inflection points and unresolved questions regarding Dogen’s teaching career in Japan
- Ongoing controversies in the scholarly interpretations of Dogen’s biography and teachings
Synthesizing a lifetime of research and reflection into an accessible narrative, this new addition to the Lives of the Masters series illuminates thought-provoking perspectives on Dogen’s character and teachings, as well as his relevance to contemporary practitioners.
"An extraordinary and fascinating exploration of Zen Master Eihei Dogen’s life and works done by scholar Steven Heine, who has unwrapped Dogen’s legacy bravely, richly, and skillfully." —Joan Halifax, author of Being with Dying and Standing at the Edge
"Heine’s definitive research illuminates the life and creative process of a towering thinker—a Zen monk who initiated an uncompromised monastic tradition in Japan almost eight hundred years ago and whose work begins to shed light on issues of our time worldwide." —Kazuaki Tanahashi, editor of Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo
"Steven Heine has condensed decades of scholarship into this precise, concise, and remarkably engaging read. His study goes deeper and farther than the average introduction to the life and work of Zen master Dogen (1200–1253). Heine offers new critical insights into the many myths and legends that animate Dogen’s medieval biographies, and he provides an extremely helpful chronological analysis of almost all of Dogen’s works, including his main collections and overlooked miscellanea. Heine’s original translations and final reflections upon Dogen’s lasting legacy today are thought-provoking and sure to prove inspiring to Zen students—at any level—who wish to make the lessons of a great pioneering mind present in the world today." —Pamela D. Winfield, author of Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment
"Based on his lifetime of research, Heine offers a superb introduction to Dogen’s life and work. By exploring Dogen’s vast oeuvre, he illuminates Dogen’s fascinating thought on enlightenment and understanding of Buddhist practice. Dogen: Japan’s Original Zen Teacher is a highly recommended read for all Zen practitioners as well as scholars in Buddhist and Japanese studies." —Michaela Mross, Assistant Professor in Religious Studies, Stanford University
STEVEN HEINE is a leading scholar in the field of Zen Buddhist history and thought, particularly the life and teachings of Dogen. He has authored and edited nearly three dozen books, including Dogen and the Koan Tradition, Did Dogen Go to China?, Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies, and Readings of Dogen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. Heine has also taught and published extensively on Japanese and East Asian religion and society in worldwide perspectives. He is Professor and Director of Florida International University’s Asian Studies Program.