From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵?, lit. "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye") The term Shōbōgenzō has three main usages in Buddhism: (1) It can refer to the essence of the Buddha's realization and teaching, that is, to the Buddha Dharma itself, as viewed from the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism, (2) it is the title of a koan collection with commentaries by Dahui Zonggao, and (3) it is used in the title of three works by Dōgen Kigen.

Shōbōgenzō of Mahayana and Zen[edit]

In Mahayana Buddhism the term Shōbōgenzō refers generally to the Buddha Dharma, and in Zen Buddhism, it refers specifically to the realization of Buddha's awakening that is not contained in the written words of the sutras (Pali: suttas).

In general Buddhist usage, the term "treasury of the Dharma" refers to the written words of the Buddha's teaching collected in the Sutras as the middle of the Three Treasures of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In Zen, the real treasure of the Dharma is not to be found in books but in one's own Buddha Nature and the ability to see this Correct View (first of the Noble Eightfold Path) of the treasure of Dharma is called the "Treasure of the Correct Dharma Eye".

In the legends of the Zen tradition, the Shōbōgenzō has been handed down from teacher to student going all the way back to the Buddha when he transmitted the Shobogenzo to his disciple Mahākāśyapa thus beginning the Zen lineage that Bodhidharma brought to China.

The legend of the transmission of the Shōbōgenzō to Mahākāśyapa is found in several Zen texts and is one of the most referred to legends in all the writings of Zen. Among the famous koan collections, it appears as Case 6 in the Wumenguan (The Gateless Checkpoint) and Case 2 in the Denkoroku (Transmission of Light). In the legend as told in the Wumenguan, the Buddha holds up a flower and no one in the assembly responds except for Arya Kashyapa who gives a broad smile and laughs a little. Seeing Mahākāśyapa's smile the Buddha said,

I possess the Treasury of the Correct Dharma Eye , the wonderful heart-mind of Nirvana, the formless true form, the subtle Dharma gate, not established by written words, transmitted separately outside the teaching. I hand it over and entrust these encouraging words to Kashyapa.

Dahui's Shōbōgenzō[edit]

Dahui Zonggao, the famous popularizer of koans in the Sung period of China, wrote a koan collection titled 正法眼藏 Zhengfa Yanzang[1] (Treasury of the Correct Dharma Eye, W-G.: Cheng-fa yen-tsang, J.: Shōbōgenzō)

Dahui's Shōbōgenzō is composed of three scrolls prefaced by three short introductory pieces.

Upon arriving in China, Dogen Kigen first studied under Wuji Lepai, a disciple of Dahui, which is where he probably came into contact with Dahui's Shōbōgenzō.

Dogen's Three Shōbōgenzōs[edit]

In Japan and the West, the term Shōbōgenzō is most commonly known as referring to the titles of two works composed by Japanese Zen master Dōgen Kigen in the mid-13th century. It is also a collection of Dogen's talks compiled by his student Koun Ejō, called Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki.

The first written and completed in 1235, the Shinji Shōbōgenzō, also known as the Mana Shōbōgenzō or Shōbōgenzō Sanbyakusoku is a collection of 301 koans (public cases) and is written in Chinese, the language of the original texts from which the koans were taken.

In his Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, Carl Bielefeldt acknowledges that Dogen likely took the title from Dahui for his first Shōbōgenzō koan collection and kept it for his following Shōbōgenzō commentary collection:

Indeed the fact that Dōgen styled his effort "Shōbō genzō" suggests that he had as his model a similar compilation of the same title by the most famous of Sung masters, Ta-Hui Tsung-kao. Unlike the latter, Dōgen was content here simply to record the stories without interjecting his own remarks. A few years later, however, he embarked on a major project to develop extended commentaries on many of these and other passages from the Ch'an literature. The fruit of this project was his masterpiece--the remarkable collection of essays known as the kana, or "vernacular", Shōbō genzō. (p. 46.)

The later Kana Shōbōgenzō consists of an overlapping assortment of essays and commentaries written in Japanese; different versions of the Kana Shōbōgenzō contain different sets of texts. (See: Heine, Dogen and the Koan Tradition)

When referring to Dogen's works, the term Shōbōgenzō by itself more commonly refers to the Kana Shōbōgenzō.

Kana Shōbōgenzō[edit]

The different component texts—referred to as fascicles—of the Kana Shōbōgenzō were written between 1231 and 1253—the year of Dōgen's death (Dōgen, 2002, p. xi). Unlike earlier Zen writings originating in Japan, including Dōgen's own Shinji Shōbōgenzō and Eihei Koroku, which were written in Chinese, the Kana Shōbōgenzō was written in Japanese.

Modern editions of Shōbōgenzō contain 95 fascicles, though earlier collections in the Sōtō Zen tradition varied in number (75, 60, and 28). Dogen began a process of revision late in his life that resulted in 12 of these, but it is thought that he intended to cover them all. There is debate[2] over whether these revisions represented a shift in his views. The essays in Shōbōgenzō were delivered as sermons in a less formal style than the Chinese-language sermons of the Eihei Koroku. Some of the fascicles were recorded by Dōgen, while others were likely recorded by his disciples.

The Dōgen Zenji Zenshu contains all 95 Japanese fascicles, untranslated. There are now four complete English translations of the Kana Shobogenzo. A translation by Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross is available under two titles, Master Dogen's Shobogenzo and Shōbōgenzō: The True Dharma-Eye Treasury. The latter is freely distributed digitally by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) with many other Mahāyāna texts.[3] Kosen Nishiyama and John Stevens have a translation titled Shobogenzo (The Eye and Treasury of the True Law). Shasta Abbey has a free digital translation of the Shobogenzo and offers other Soto Zen works.[4] A translation by a "team of translators that represent a Who’s Who of American Zen" and edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo, was released in mid-2011. Additionally, the Stanford-based Soto Zen Text Project, a project to translate Dogen and other Sōtō texts, has completed several fascicles, freely distributed in digital format.

See also[edit]

Reference Notes[edit]


  • Dogen, Trans. Thomas Cleary; Shobogenzo: Zen Essays By Dogen; U. of Hawaii Press, Honolulu; ISBN 0-8248-1014-7 (1st edition, hardback, 1986).
  • Dogen, Trans. Norman Waddell and Masao Abe; The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo; SUNY Press, Albany; ISBN 0-7914-5242-5 (1st edition, hardback, 2002).
  • Dogen, Trans. Thomas Cleary; Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji; Shambhala, Boston; ISBN 0-87773-689-8 (1st edition, hardback, 1992).
  • Dogen, Trans. Gudo Wafu Nishijima & Chodo Cross; Master Dogen's Shobogenzo; Windbell Publications, London; ISBN 0-9523002-1-4 (four volumes, paperback, 1994).
  • Dogen, Ed. Kazuaki Tanahashi; Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen; North Point Press, San Francisco; ISBN 0-86547-185-1 (hardback, 1985).
  • Yuho Yokoi; Zen Master Dogen; Weatherhill Inc., New York; ISBN 0-8348-0116-7 (6th edition, paperback, 1990)
  • Steven Heine; Dogen and the Koan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shobogenzo Texts; SUNY Press, Albany; ISBN 0-7914-1773-5 (1st edition, hardback, 1994)
  • Carl Bielefeldt; Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation; University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London; ISBN 0-520-06835-1 (paperback, 1988?)
  • Dogen, Trans. Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton, with commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi: The Wholehearted Way; Tuttle Publishing; ISBN 0-8048-3105-X (first edition, paperback, 1997).
  • Roshi P. T. N. Houn Jiyu-Kennett; Zen is Eternal Life; Shasta Abbey Press; ISBN 0-930066-06-5 (third edition, paperback, 1987).
  • Shobogenzo, or The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teachings by Great Master Dogen, VOLUME 1 - Translator, Rev. Hubert Nearman, F.O.B.C.; Editor & Consultant, Rev. Daizui MacPhillamy, M.O.B.C.; Shasta Abbey Press; ISBN 0-930066-17-0 (1996)
  • Dogen, Trans. Eido Shimano Roshi & Charles Vacher; Shobogenzo Uji; ISBN 2-909422-24-0 (1997); and Shobogenzo Yui Butsu Yo Butsu and Shoji; ISBN 2-909422-37-2 (1999).
  • Dogen, Trans. Kosen Nishiyama and John Stevens; Shobogenzo: The Eye and Treasury of the True Law, Volume One; Nakayama Shobo, Tokyo, Japan; ISBN 0-87040-363-X (hardback, 1975). Volume Two; same ISBN (hardback, 1977). Volume Three; same ISBN (hardback, year unknown). Out of print.

External links[edit]