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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 10 66 KAZuAKI TANAHASHI’S Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo is the fourth com- plete version of this immense and pro- found work to appear in English. The first English version was Dogen Zenji Shobogenzo: The Eye and Treasury of the True Law, published in four vol- umes from 1975 to 1983 by Nakayama Shobo in Tokyo. It was translated by Kosen Nishiyama, a professor and Zen priest, with John Stevens, Steve Powell, Ian Reader, and Susan Wick. The trans- lators worked in Japan, in the Sojiji tra- dition of Soto Zen (most Japanese Soto Zen teachers who came to the West were from the Eiheiji tradition). This version is quite readable, but that is probably because it is highly interpretative. There isn’t much explan- atory material in it for the reader who wants more detail and nuance. Still, I always go to it for a good clear sense of how a Soto Zen priest in Japan would tend to read a particularly tough pas- sage. (At issue with this and all Dogen translations in which the lead transla- tor is a Japanese Soto Zen priest is the difference—if there is or ought to be any—between the way Dogen is read in Japanese Zen and how he is read in the West.) From 1994 to 1999, Gudo Nishijima brought out his four-volume translation titled Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, which was published by Windbell Publications (in England and Japan). Nishijima was a lawyer and businessman who became Question 1: We have now heard that the merit of zazen is lofty and great. But an ignorant person may be doubtful and say, “There are many gates for buddhadharma. Why do you recommend zazen exclusively?” Answer: Because this is the front gate for buddhadharma. Question 2: Why do you regard zazen alone as the front gate? Answer: The great master Shakyamuni authentically transmit- ted this splendid method of attaining the way, and all buddha tathagatas of the past, future, and present attain the way by practicing zazen. For this reason it has been transmitted as the front gate. Furthermore, all ancestors in India and China attained the way by practicing zazen. Thus, I now teach this front gate to human beings and devas. Question 3: We understand that you have studied the path of the buddha ancestors and authentically transmit the tathaga- tas’ excellent art. This is beyond the reach of ordinary thought. a Zen priest late in life, training under the great master Sawaki Kodo Roshi. He collaborated on the translation with Chodo Cross, an American Zen student living in Japan. To my eye, their version is a bit more rigorous, reflecting more of the complexity I imagine is in the origi- nal, and includes valuable footnotes that often cite the Japanese characters used in the text, which give the reader a good sense of what is involved beneath the sur- face of the English. I always consult this version for extra depth in my study. In 2007, Rev. Hubert Nearing of Shasta Abbey brought out The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching: A Trainee’s Translation of Zen Master Dogen’s Spiritual Masterpiece. It is pub- lished for free distribution (and available in its entirety as a PDF on the web) by Shasta Abbey Press. Nearing, who began his career as a young theater scholar interested in the Japanese stage, spent the last fourteen years of his life working Norman Fischer is the founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation and a senior teacher with the San Francisco Zen Center. He is also a poet and author. His most recent book is Sailing Home: Using Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life’s Perils and Pitfalls. However, reading sutras or chanting buddha’s name must be causes and conditions of enlightenment. How can zazen, just sitting uselessly doing nothing, be depended upon for attain- ing enlightenment? Answer: If you think that the samadhi of all buddhas, their unsurpassable great art, is just sitting uselessly doing nothing, you malign the Great Vehicle. Such misunderstanding is like say- ing there is no water when you are in the middle of the ocean. Just now, all buddhas sit serenely at ease in receptive samadhi. Is this not the actualization of vast merit? What a pity that your eye is not yet open, that your mind is still intoxicated! The realm of all buddhas is inconceivable. It cannot be reached by intellect—much less can those who have no trust or who lack wisdom know it. Only those who have the great capacity of genuine trust can enter this realm. Those who have no trust are unable to accept it, however much they hear it. Even at the assembly on Vulture Peak, there were those who were told by Shakyamuni Buddha, “You may leave if you wish.” rIgorous, pIous, anD poetIc norman Fischer compares the different english translations of Shobogenzo