Dogen And Go

    Keywords: Culture & History

Bob Myers: Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253, [ext] Wikipedia entry) knew go and referred to it in at least two places in his writings.

Dōgen was the medieval Japanese religious leader and founder of the Sōtō school of Zen ([ext] website) in Japan. The references to go are found in his philosophical masterwork Shōbōgenzō ([ext] Wikipedia entry), or Treasure of the True Dharma Eye.

The first reference occurs in the Spring and Autumn (Shunjū) fascicle (chapter) of ShobōGenzō. There, Dōgen comments on an earlier commentary by a Chinese Zen master using go as an analogy for engagement and involvement. Kazuaki Tanahashi ([ext] website) has done a translation of this fascicle in his book Moon in a Dewdrop ([ext] Amazon.com), although this translation apparently has some problems. My translation of the section in question and commentary is [ext] here. Bottom line: facile interpretations that Dōgen is somehow equating go and enlightenment are just wrong.

isshoni: [ext] here is a comment by William Cobb on the Tanahashi translation mentioned above.
Alas, as too often in Western Zen commentaries, disagreements in translation/interpretation of intrinsically difficult texts are worded in a rather aggressive manner...I have no idea which one, if any, is more accurate. For what it's worth, I'll mention that Tanahashi Kazuaki is a member of the Sōtō school of Zen, which initiated an extensive academic translation of the Shōbōgenzō and other Sōtō texts, namely the Sōtō Zen Text Project ([ext] website), whose works are being published at a slow pace by American scholars. Their translation of Spring and Autumn still awaits the assignment of translator.

Bob Myers: Dōgen's second reference to go occurs in the Nishijima/Cross translation of Shōbōgenzō ([ext] Amazon.com), in its translation of the Kattō (Twining Vines) fascicle, but it turns out this is spurious. See [ext] analysis here.

Beginner's Mind

Enlightment sought in Zen may not directly compare to aspiring "shodanhood", but while reading "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shunryu Suzuki)", following struck me:

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few". (for a few more interesting quotes that may apply in Go, see [ext] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Shunryu_Suzuki)

S. Suzuki also writes that "beginner's mind was a favourite quote of Dogen"; doing some wikisearch, I find a beginner's wholehearted practice of the Way is exactly the totality of original enlightenment ([ext] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogen)


Dogen And Go last edited by tapir on January 21, 2008 - 13:40
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