Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun's Verse Comments on Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

ISBN : 9780190941345

Steven Heine
272 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2020
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This book provides a translation and critical bilingual edition on the Verse Comments on the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. The Verse Comments by Giun (1253-1333), the fifth abbot of Eiheiji temple, is an important early medieval Japanese commentary on the 60-chapter edition of the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo), one of the main versions of the masterwork written by Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), the founder of the Soto Zen sect in Japan who established Eiheiji in the mid-1240s. Giun's Verse Comments was one of only two commentaries of the Treasury written during the Kamakura era, with the other being a prose analysis of the 75-chapter edition, called Prose Comments on the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, often abbreviated to Distinguished Comments (Gosho). While Distinguished Comments fell into disuse rather quickly and was only revived nearly three hundred years later, the Verse Comments was circulated widely from the time of its composition and read by many Soto monks over the next couple of centuries. Offering poems and cryptic expressions that seek to capture the spiritual flavor and essential meaning of Dogen's thought as suggested in each chapter, the Verse Comments is crucial for understanding how Dogen's Treasury was received and appropriated in the religious and literary context of medieval Japan. In this book, Steven Heine's careful interpretations, historical investigations, and theoretical reflections demonstrate the significance of Giun's writings in light of the history of pre-modern and modern commentaries on Dogen's masterwork, the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.


Part I. Historical Investigations
1. A Mystical Path Stemming from Eiheiji: The Significance of Text and Author
2. Nothing Hidden in the Entire Universe: Giun and the Formation of the 60-Fascicle Edition
Part II. Translations and Interpretations
3. Giun's Verse Comments with Capping Phrases: Full Text with Glosses
4. Selected Supplementary Poems: By Giun and Other Relevant Monk-Poets
Epilogue. Before, During, and After the Ban: History of Commentaries on Dogen's Treasury
Sino-Japanese Glossary
Selected Bibliography

About the author: 

Steven Heine is Professor and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University, and an expert on East Asian religions, especially the origins and spread of Zen Buddhism from China to Japan. He has published more than thirty monographs and edited volumes, including several works specializing in the life and thought of Zen master Dogen (1200-1253) such as Did Dogen Go to China? and Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies.

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