Dogen’s Life and Death
Dogen Kigen Zenji lived in Japan in the 13th Century. He’s best known for his extensive writing including his most famous work, the collection of 95 essays called the Shōbōgenzō. There are numerous translations and books written about Dogen. No matter the translation, they are difficult to penetrate and understand.
Eido Shimano Roshi, born in Japan, lived in the United States for over fifty years. He was fluent and articulate in English. He has translated a number of Dogen’s writings into English including Uji Being Time. At the age of 82 he returned to Japan to teach at Shogen-ji Junior College for a semester and gave this last talk the day before he passed away. Fittingly the subject is on Dogen’s chapter Life-Death.
This talk, or teisho, is different from a lecture. It is a presentation of Zen realization by a Zen master. As you will see when you read the teisho, Eido Roshi deeply connected with this work and explains his understanding word for word. The next day, with this understanding and clarificatioin of life and death from a lifetime of practice he passed away.
We are fortunate that someone at Shogen-ji video taped the teisho and translated the Japanese into English. It’s now available here in book format for us to read over and over again.