The first video in a series on Dōgen’s
five waka inspired by The Lotus Sutra
For anyone seeking a better understanding of Master Dōgen’s work, The Lotus Sutra may provide an opening. It’s revered as one of the most important Mahayana sutras. But it’s also the most important sutra of the Tendai school where Dōgen was originally ordained.
Even after he became a Zen master, Dōgen continued the study he began as a young monk, investigating its meanings as a scripture. He also drew upon it for his own writing as he matured. And most significantly, he directly experienced how The Lotus Sutra reveals itself throughout existence. As Okumura-roshi has already explained, it’s so much more than a fundamental Buddhist text.
So it should come as little surprise that in his first four waka poems, Dōgen Zenji would illustrate the essence and vitality of the Lotus Sutra in the world. Understanding its scope, we come to understand how, in his fifth waka, he might lament that so few people realize what they’re a part of.
In this nearly eight minute video, Shōhaku Okumura reads the first five of Dogen’s collected waka poems in their original Japanese and with his English translation. Then he places them in the context of our lives here and now.
In future video posts, Roshi will guide us through the Lotus Sutra to a better understanding of Dōgen’s waka and their link to the suchness of reality.
Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura-roshi
— Video is an excerpt from a September, 2016 talk at Great Tree Zen Temple of Asheville, North Carolina.
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