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Publisher's Summary

The Shōbōgenzō is the recognized spiritual masterpiece by the 13th- century Japanese Sōtō Zen Master Eihei Dōgen. It is comprised of discourses that he gave to his disciples, in person or in writing, at various times between 1231 and his death 22 years later at age 53. These discourses cover a wide range of topics pertinent to those in monastic life, though often also relevant to those training in lay life. He discusses matters of daily behavior and religious ceremonial as well as issues involving the Master-disciple relationship. He also explores the deeper meaning that informs the so-called Zen kōan stories, which are often puzling in their seeming illogicality and contrary nature. 

The 96 discourses were originally written out by hand, primarily by his chief disciple and amanuensis, the Second Japanese Sōtō Zen Ancestor, Kōun Ejō. The majority of the discourses focus on exploring the spiritual significance of some topic drawn from Buddhist Scriptures or Chinese Chan (Zen) texts. Dōgen’s commentaries on these texts are not lectures as would be understood in academic circles, but are talks that arise from a Zen Master’s deepest understanding of the spiritual meaning and relevance of his topic to Buddhist training and practice. They come out of Dōgen’s mind of meditation and are being presented to his monastic and lay disciples, who are presumably listening from their mind of meditation. 

The discourses carry a strong flavor of the conversational and the personal, and he enriches them with colorful Chinese and Zen phrases, as well as with medieval Chinese and Japanese colloquialisms. When translated literally, many of these metaphors and figures of speech may well have little meaning for English-speaking readers and listeners. However, by the 13th century they would have been a common way for a Buddhist Meditation Master to refer to That which is the True Nature of all beings. 

The function of these metaphors is, to some extent, to ‘ground’ a Master’s disciples by providing them with a colorful and more easily remembered image instead of some more abstract, ‘intellectual’ definition. They point to the Great Matter for which one trains in Serene Reflection Meditation, which is to awaken to one’s True Nature. This recording of the Shōbōgenzō features the fine translation by the Rev Nearman of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives of the Sōtō Zen tradition, who, based at Shasta Abbey in Northern California, was responsible for a number of key Japanese Zen texts. Rev Nearman provides not only useful, concise introductions to each of the Discourses, but also copious footnotes clarifying the text, which have been incorporated into the main narrative. This classic Zen text receives an engaged reading from Brian Nishii, whose presentation is deepened by his fluency in Japanese and Mandarin. An accompanying PDF is included with the download, providing a comprehensive glossary of Buddhist terms used in this Dharma Audiobooks recording.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2007 Shasta Abbey (P)2021 Ukemi Productions Ltd

What listeners say about Shōbōgenzō

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I'm just amazed

I'm just amazed that somebody would turn this Soto Zen tome of Zen jazz riffing by Dōgen into an audiobook. Kudos

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great but too much blah blah

i want to hear the text without endless "translator's introductions" and footnotes that mostly state the obvious*
*they inform you of something that was already clear.
see what I did there? That's what this book does.

2 people found this helpful

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Love it

Love it. Wonderfully written and nicely narrated. Thank you for making this in Audible. I shall listen to it again, and again....

1 person found this helpful

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A Masterpiece of an audiobook, of a Zen Classic

It's hard to convey the depth of my gratitude to Brian Nishii, and everyone else who was involved in bringing this immense work to fruition. Shobogenzo by Eihei Dogen is a great lamp that illuminates the way. Although written many centuries ago, it crackles with life and energy today. Dogen's wisdom, teachings and admonitions are conveyed with great clarity by Nishii. It is a tour de force of narration. Thank you! Well Done!

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Wide Awake

Suffering is a portal to awakening. You will awaken about 5 minutes into chapter 2. Or sooner.

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You need this book

This book has an incredible amount of knowledge.
Unsurpassed knowledge that most people nowadays don't have but surely would benefit from.
As of now, this is the best book I ever seen.
Thanks for everyone involved in the making of this audiobook version.

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Thank you

thank you for hard work !
The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching


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  • Adrian Chan-Wyles Ph.D
  • 09-29-21

Superb Historical Documrnt!

A lavish insight into the Chinese Ch'an tradition of 13th century as experienced by the Japanese pilgrim and Buddhist practitioner 'Dogen'! He is precise in recording his learning experiences whilst visiting Song Dynasty China and gives an in-depth explanation of virtually the entire Buddhist path from beginner to enlightened being! A work of beauty and sophistication which gives much food for thought - which is also superbly narrated!