Dōgen on Meditation and Thinking

A Reflection on His View of Zen

By Hee-Jin Kim

Subjects: Asian Studies
Paperback : 9780791469262, 184 pages, November 2006
Hardcover : 9780791469255, 184 pages, November 2006

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Table of contents


1. A Shattered Mirror, a Fallen Flower

2. Negotiating the Way

3. Weighing Emptiness

4. The Reason of Words and Letters

5. Meditation as Authentic Thinking

6. Radical Reason: Dōri


Glossary of Sino-Japanese Words, Names, and Titles


Looks at Dōgen’s writings on meditation and thinking.


Thirty years after the publication of his classic work Dōgen Kigen—Mystical Realist, Hee-Jin Kim reframes and recasts his understanding of Dōgen's Zen methodology in this new book. Through meticulous textual analyses of and critical reflections on key passages primarily from Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō, Kim explicates hitherto underappreciated aspects of Dōgen's religion, such as the ambiguity of delusion and also of enlightenment, intricacies of negotiating the Way, the dynamic functions of emptiness, the realizational view of language, nonthinking as the essence of meditation, and a multifaceted conception of reason. Kim also responds to many recent developments in Zen studies that have arisen in both Asia and the West, especially Critical Buddhism. He brings Dōgen the meditator and Dōgen the thinker into relief. Kim's study clearly demonstrates that language, thinking, and reason constitute the essence of Dōgen's proposed Zen praxis, and that such a Zen opens up new possibilities for dialogue between Zen and contemporary thought. This fresh assessment of Dōgen's Zen represents a radical shift in our understanding of its place in the history of Buddhism.

Hee-Jin Kim is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon and the author of Dōgen Kigen—Mystical Realist.


"Kim … makes sense of Dōgen's puzzling grammar in lucid prose … Kim's scholarship and delivery are impeccable." — Original Mind

"By offering a creative approach to reflections about Zen through philosophical musings and weaving a path that ties together diverse themes and outlooks, Kim provides a new generation of readers who are eager to learn from the 'grand master' of the field an insightful analysis of key passages from Dōgen's collected works." — Journal of Religion

"Kim's sophisticated forays into Dōgen's enigmatic texts … convey the sense of closing in on the essence of this thought." — Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

"…Kim spells out his thinking with such clarity that any reader interested in making a serious effort to understand Dōgen's thought will find Kim's insights indispensable." — Buddhadharma

"Kim has been very successful in providing novel, innovative means of interpreting Dōgen's approach to such seminal issues as meditative thinking, nonduality, illusion, language, logical thinking, and realization. A new generation of readers will be eager to learn from the 'grand master' of the field and will benefit from his insightful analysis of key passages from Dōgen's collected works. This book will take its place among other prominent philosophical studies of Dōgen by Masao Abe, Joan Stambaugh, and Gereon Kopf." — Steven Heine, author of Dōgen and the Kōan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shōbōgenzō Texts