The writings of Dogen, 13th century Japanese Soto Zen founder, are a unique highpoint of Zen literature. Exploring profound Buddhist philosophical issues, Dogen creatively used poetic language and wordplay to express the meaning of practice/ enlightenment and Buddha nature, and to train his students who successfully established Soto Zen in Japan. We will do textual study of a selection of Dogen’s major writings, including teachings about meditation, nature mysticism, community life, teaching stories, and theories of temporality. After background material on Dogen, and several essays from one of his major works, Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye Treasury), we will focus on the short discourses in Dogen’s Extensive Record, showing his teaching style and humor. We will consider his various background sources, including the koan tradition, the Japanese poetic and aesthetic tradition, and Mahayana sutras and bodhisattva lore. We will also explore how his challenging writings relate to modern spiritual issues. Grades based on participation in online discussion, a midterm essay exam, and a final research paper.

Max enrollment: 15; PIN required.

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Our online courses are co-sponsored by the Starr King School for the Ministry

HRHS 8454 : Topics in Buddhist Traditions of Japan: Teachings of Zen Master Dogen