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Ichijoji Kasai13bs4272.jpg

Hosso • Kegon • Ritsu


Sacred Texts

Dōgen Zenji (道元禅師; also Dōgen Kigen 道元希玄, or Eihei Dōgen 永平道元, or Koso Joyo Daishi) (19 January 1200 – 22 September 1253) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyōto, and the founder of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan after travelling to China and training under the Chinese Caodong lineage there. Dōgen is known for his extensive writing including the Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma or Shōbōgenzō, a collection of ninety-five fascicles concerning Buddhist practice and enlightenment.



Early life

Dōgen probably was born into a noble family, though as an illegitimate child of Minamoto Michitomo, who served in the imperial court as a high-ranking ashō (亞相?, "Councillor of State").[1]. His mother is said to have died when Dōgen was age 7.

Early training

At some later point, Dōgen became a low-ranking monk on Mount Hiei, the headquarters of the Tendai school of Buddhism. Later in life, while describing his time on Mt. Hiei, he writes that he became possessed by a single question with regard to the Tendai doctrine:

This question was, in large part, prompted by the Tendai concept of "original enlightenment" (本覚 hongaku), which states that all human beings are enlightened by nature and that, consequently, any notion of achieving enlightenment through practice is fundamentally flawed[3].

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