Kazuaki Tanahashi, an artist, scholar and translator, and Peter Levitt, a poet and guiding teacher of the Salt Spring Zen Circle in British Columbia, are the editors of this collection of the writings of Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) who stands as one of the greatest meditation teachers in the Zen tradition. Tanahashi characterizes him as "an extraordinary thinker, visionary, poet, writer, scholar, teacher, introducer of Zen, leader of a spiritual community, and reformer of Buddhism in Japan." Dogen was an avid defender of the importance of zazen, sitting meditation; the wisdom of non-duality; and the practice of compassion as the path to inner freedom.
Tanahashi and Levitt have organized Dogen's writings into six thematic modules: Practical Instruction, History, Gates of Dharma, Philosophical View, Students and Teachers, and Expression. Here are a few of our favorites passages:
"There is a simple way to become a buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Seek nothing else."
"The realm of all buddhas is inconceivable. It cannot be reached by intellect — much less can those who have no trust or lack wisdom know it. Only those who have the great capacity of genuine trust can enter this realm."
Awake or Asleep
"Awake or asleep
in a grass hut,
to bring others across
"If you attain one day of continuous practice, you not only attain the practice of one hundred years but you awaken others for a hundred years."