The Shobogenzo is a collection of writings by the First Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist Ancestor, Great Master Eihei Dogen, based primarily on formal Dharma talks which he gave to his disciples at various times between 1233 and his death twenty years later at age fifty-three.
Most of the texts in the book focus on exploring the spiritual significance of some term or phrase drawn from Buddhist Scriptures or Chinese Zen texts. These are not lectures, as would be understood in an academic setting, but are talks that arise from Dogen's deepest understanding of the spiritual meaning and relevance of his topic to Buddhist training and practice.
This translation draws upon both the monastic and scholarly training of the translator and editor, and aims to make the depth of Dogen's voicing of the Dharma accessible to western Buddhist readers. The translator's general introduction explains some of the methods Dogen employs in his Dharma talks, particularly his use of the traditional koan stories. A short introduction is provided for each text, as well as footnotes to help clarify unusual terms and phrases.
The texts are taken from several early editions of the Shobogenzo, and have been arranged in chronological order so that readers can see more clearly how Dogen's various themes developed over time. This first volume presents the earliest eleven texts.