As a religion concerned with universal liberation, Zen grew out of a Buddhist worldview very different from the currently prevalent scientific materialism. Indeed, says Taigen Dan Leighton, Zen cannot be fully understood outside of a worldview that sees reality itself as a vital, dynamic agent of awareness and healing. In this book, Leighton explicates that worldview through the writings of the Zen master Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253), considered the founder of the Japanese Sōtō Zen tradition, which currently enjoys increasing popularity in the West.
The Lotus Sutra, arguably the most important Buddhist scripture in East Asia, contains a famous story about bodhisattvas (enlightening beings) who emerge from under the earth to preserve and expound the Lotus teaching in the distant future. The story reveals that the Buddha only appears to pass away, but actually has been practicing, and will continue to do so, over an inconceivably long life span.
Leighton traces commentaries on the Lotus Sutra from a range of key East Asian Buddhist thinkers, including Daosheng, Zhiyi, Zhanran, Saigyo, Mye, Nichiren, Hakuin, and Rykan. But his main focus is Eihei Dōgen, the 13th century Japanese Sōtō Zen founder who imported Zen from China, and whose profuse, provocative, and poetic writings are important to the modern expansion of Buddhism to the West.
Dōgen's use of this sutra expresses the critical role of Mahayana vision and imagination as the context of Zen teaching, and his interpretations of this story furthermore reveal his dynamic worldview of the earth, space, and time themselves as vital agents of spiritual awakening.
Leighton argues that Dōgen uses the images and metaphors in this story to express his own religious worldview, in which earth, space, and time are lively agents in the bodhisattva project. Broader awareness of Dōgen's worldview and its implications, says Leighton, can illuminate the possibilities for contemporary approaches to primary Mahayana concepts and practices.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Taigen Dan Leighton is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Theological Union, Institute of Buddhist Studies and author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression. He is primary co-translator and editor for several Zen translations, including Dōgen's Extensive Record and Cultivating the Empty Field. He is also a Sōtō Zen priest and Dharma heir.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very good book with a scholarly review, especially in the first half of the book, but then the second half is more of a review of ideas and concepts and does not have the comparisons with philosophers that the author uses to juxtapose opines...I enjoyed the book as I kept reading it, but the beginning with the verbiage and similarities made it a slow or less than engaging read, but again, the second half of the book was engaging and I am glad that I read it and will again to assimilate it more.