Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dogen's Extensive Record "Eihei Koroku"

Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of Dogen's Eihei Koroku by Taigen Dan Leighton

The Eihei Koroku (Dogen's Extensive Record) is second in importance, of Zen master Eiehei Dogen's writings, only to (the Kana) Shobogenzo (True Dharma-Eye Treasury).

This translation, rendered primarily by Taigen Dan Leighton (who also edited it and provided an excellent introduction) and Shohaku Okumura, is a monumental achievement. Taigen Dan Leighton is a Zen teacher/scholar who has furnished students of Zen with a number of superb translations, including: "Cultivating the Empty Field" (The Record of Hongzhi -- who was a major influnce on Dogen), "The Wholehearted Way: A Translation of Eihei Dogen's 'Bendowa'", and his latest "Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra."

Leighton has spent decades of practice and study exploring Dogen's masterful works in the only way one truly can--by studying it AND applying it in actual practice. Consequently, Leighton has come to understand this outstanding figure of Zen history as very few do.

The "Eihei Koroku" offers us a view of Dogen that is not afforded in the "Shobogenzo" alone. Informal and intimate throghout a large part of this record, we can sense Dogen the human being behind the Zen Giant. At the same time, this book reveals the remarkable consistency that Dogen's Zen Buddhist teachings remained throughout his teaching career; as well as the lucidity with which his explications are presented in a variety of styles and settings, here and in his other records.

Best of all, becuase the "Eihei Roku" consists mainly of the teachings that Dogen presented directly to his own small group of close, intimate disciples as they were (primarily) recorded by Ejo (Dogen's eventual succssesor), it offers a view of Dogen from a totally different perspective than the "first person" writings of "Shobogenzo" which Dogen primarily wrote and edited himself.
Taigen's introduction, notes, and massive "back matter" (glossaries, tables, etc.) is itself worth the price of the book.

Bottom Line: Essential reading/reference/lifetime study for all English reading students--and a fascinating inside view for anyone wanting to get a handle on one of the most influential Zen masters of all time.


SlowZen said...

Taigen also dose podcasts that are available for free via itunes. On his last one he said that his teacher told him that we should never ask why questions. This is something I have heard before. In the ancient Buddhism I grew up with, asking and exploring why seemed important.
Now I think, not so important.

The Eihei Koroku is heavy. Lots of words. What do they say? Practice!

Take care Ted, I appreciate your continuous efforts.


Ted Biringer said...

Hello Jordan,

Thanks for your comment, and the info on Taigen's podcasts!

You also mentioned: "The Eihei Koroku is heavy. Lots of words. What do they say? Practice!"

Yes! And they also offer suggestions on how to do so...

Thanks again!


Ted Biringer

Nameless demon living in a cave said...


Thanks for posting this. I was taking the Eihei Koroku more as being statements of dharma and to see them as practice is a new angle for me.



Ted Biringer said...

Hello Paul,

Thank you for your comments.

I am happy to hear that you found something helpful (or at least interesting) here.

Three Full Bows.


Anonymous said...

The amusing information