SOAS University of London

Centre of Buddhist Studies

Philosophy and Philology in Edo Commentaries on Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō: Construction and Deconstruction of the 95-Fascicle Honzan Edition

Steven Heine (Florida International University)

Date: 26 October 2017Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 26 October 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Lecture


The Shōbōgenzō 正法眼蔵 by Dōgen (1200-1253), founder of the Sōtō Zen sect in medieval Japan, has become one of the best-known East Asian Buddhist texts because its intricate evocation and eloquent elucidation of Chinese Chan sources in Japanese vernacular emphasizes a dynamic view of reality and multi-perspectival approach to discourse. However, there remain many misconceptions about the formation and structure of the text, especially in terms of how, when, where, and why it was written. The aim of this lecture is to correct one of the main areas of oversight by highlighting the role of more than six dozen Edo-period commentaries neglected in Western scholarship, while showing that only through examining these complex materials in terms of their respective approaches to textual hermeneutics involving philosophy and philology can the gap between the author’s intentionality and modern interpretations be bridged.


Steven Heine is professor of Religious Studies and History and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University. A recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun award from the Japanese government, he has published extensively on the life and thought of Zen master Dōgen as well as the origins and spread of Zen Buddhism in East Asia. Book titles include: Did Dōgen Go to China?, Dōgen and Sōtō Zen, Zen Kōans, Zen and Material Culture, and most recently, From Chinese Chan to Japanese Zen.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies & Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

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