From the Publisher
"In this astonishing resource, John Daido Loori Roshi has provided commentary and verses on each koan. These koans yank us away from our preconceptions and fixed ideas, forcing us to see what is real. They perplex us and exhaust reason.”—Spirituality & Health
“Loori Roshi offers to modern students new entry into this profound and ancient practice.”—Tricycle
"We are fortunate to receive this important new translation by Kaz Tanahashi and Daido Loori of Zen Master Dogen's early selection of three hundred koans that formed a basis for his many later koan commentaries. Daido Loori's introduction discussing Dogen's approach counteracts prevalent stereotypes that base all koan practice on later eighteenth-century training systems. Daido Loori's brief remarks and verse comments after each case suggest helpful perspectives for practitioners."—Taigen Dan Leighton, cotranslator and editor, Dogen's Extensive Record and Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community
"What Daido Roshi now does in a remarkable way is to breathe new life into the text by innovatively creating prose and verse comments. The Mana Shobogenzo lives again, and for the lucky readers so does the thought of Dogen Zenji transmitted to the twenty-first century."—Steven Heine, co-editor of Dogen's Extensive Record
"This creative work, presented from the perspective of a Western Zen teacher, adds a significant contribution in helping to make Zen more global in its application as a spiritual path."—Shohaku Okumura, Dharma Successor of Kosho Uchiyama Roshi and founder of Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington, Indiana
Read an Excerpt
Eihei Dogen's Preface
treasury of the true dharma eye was held up by Great Master Sakyamuni.
But has it been investigated thoroughly? Through direct transmission I
have received it more than 2,180 years later. The Buddha’s
dharma children and dharma grandchildren in close and remote schools
number myriad and myriad, three before and three after. Would you like
to know the origin of this teaching?
Long ago in front of millions of beings on Vulture Peak,
when the World-Honored One held up a flower and winked, Mahakasyapa
smiled. The World-Honored One approved it and said, “I have the
treasury of the true dharma eye, wondrous mind of nirvana. I entrust it
to the great Mahakasyapa.”
Honorable Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth generation direct heir of Mahakasyapa, went to Shaolin, China,
and sat facing the wall for nine years. Pulling off weed and carrying
wind, he got an excellent disciple to entrust his marrow to. This was
the beginning of the dharma transmission in China.
The Sixth Ancestor, Caoxi (Dajian Huineng), had Qingyuan and Nanyue.
Transmitted from an excellent teacher to a strong student, heir to
heir, the treasury of the true dharma eye is by itself evident.
are the three hundred cases clarified by these ancestors. On behalf of
them I am presenting the cases to you for appreciation of the ancient
On the winter solstice, the first year of the Katei Era (1235). Dogen, abbot of Kannondori Koshohorin Monastery, monastic transmitting the dharma from China, writes this preface.
A monastic asked Zhaozhou, "Does a dog have buddha nature?"
Zhaozhou said, "Yes."
The monastic said, "If so, how does it get into its skin bag?"
Zhaozhou said, "It intentionally offends."
Another monastic asked, "Does a dog have buddha nature?"
Zhaozhou said, "No."
The monastic said, "All sentient beings have buddha nature. How come a dog doesn't have buddha nature?"
Zhaozhou said, "Because it has karmic consciousness."
teaching of Zhaozhou's has created a forest of brambles for countless
generations of Zen practitioners. They all seem to confuse the buddha
nature with the notion of separate self rather than the totality of
existence. This view exists because they have not yet encountered
encountering. We should realize that buddha nature is not about
enlightenment, knowing, or understanding.
As for the dog and
buddha nature, Zhaozhou is not just saying that a dog does or does not
have buddha nature. In reality, he is compounding medicine to heal the
sickness and compounding sickness to heal the medicine. The question
is, what is the sickness? If you wish to understand why Zhaozhou
answers the way he does, you must first examine carefully what these
two monastics have to say.
Caught in the sea of affirmation and denial—
"No" contains the many,
"yes" has no duality.
1. What causes him to doubt?
2. Yes! But it cannot be attained.
3. He seems annoyed with this. How did you manage to create your skin bag?
4. Don't you feel offended?
5. What caused him to doubt?
6. No! Yet it cannot be extinguished.
7. Indeed! This monastic seems sad.
8. Does it make you wonder about yourself?