We are happy to announce that on Thursday evening, October 4th, we will have a special Guest Teacher for our Thursday class. Steven Heine, the foremost American academic scholar of Dogen, will be giving a class on Dogen's Use of Koans and Approach to Koan Practice.
Steven Heine has written many important books about Dogen, the Japanese Soto lineage founder, and about Zen Koans. Heine will give us a useful perspective on the nature of koan practice in Dogen's teaching and in the Soto tradition. Heine's books include Dogen and the Koan Tradition; Did Dogen Go to China?: What He Wrote and When He Wrote It; Shifting Shape Shaping Text: Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan; and Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters. He has also edited an important series of scholarly books on Zen for Oxford University Press, including The Koan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism; The Zen Canon; Zen Classics; and the soon forthcoming Zen Ritual (which includes an article by Taigen about Zazen as an Enactment Ritual). Professor Heine is currently Director of the Institute of International Studies at Florida International University.
Heine's Dogen and the Koan Tradition is especially relevant to our Thursday evening class. (For details on when classes will be held, see our website schedule http://www.ancientdragon.org/sangha/schedule.)
In the class, Taigen has been teaching about koans of the great Chinese master Zhaozhou [Jpn.: Joshu], whose temple in China Taigen visited in June (for story and pictures of this China pilgrimage seehttp://www.ancientdragon.org/sangha/news/more/china_trip).
Taigen first gave a series of classes on Zhaozhou's instruction from his teacher Nanquan that "Ordinary Mind is the Way." Most recently we have been looking at Zhaozhou's response, "the cypress tree in the garden," when asked by a monk about the purpose of Bodhidharma coming from the West. We will next be working with Zhaozhou's famous Dog Buddha nature koan. In his presentations Taigen has especially included koan commentaries by Dogen from both Dogen's Extensive Record (Eihei Koroku) and his True Dharma Eye Treasury (Shobogenzo).
In America, and in much of Japanese Zen as well, "koan practice" is generally assumed to refer to some variation of the style derived from the great 18th century Rinzai master Hakuin, including passing through a curriculum of koan cases in private consultation with the teacher. However, Dogen arguably introduced the koan literature to Japan, and obviously achieved remarkable mastery of the koan literature, which are the subject of most of his prolific writings. Dogen and the subsequent Soto tradition offer an alternative koan praxis, as illustrated in Heine's Dogen and the Koan Tradition, and as offered in our Thursday evening classes, based also on Taigen's own work on koans with his teacher Reb Anderson of the Suzuki Roshi lineage. Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Steven Heine October 4th at the Cenacle.