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Dōgen (1200–1253)

Eihei Dōgen, transmitter of the Soto Zen tradition to Japan, is widely regarded as one of the most profound and original of Japanese philosophers.

Born of aristocratic parents, Dōgen was orphaned young and entered the great Buddhist monastery of Mt. Hiei near Kyoto. He was, however, disturbed by doubts, especially concerning the common Mahayana doctrine of “original enlightenment,” asking why, if we have an inner enlightened Buddha nature from birth, we then need to strive for enlightenment. Traveling to China to study, he eventually attained Zen enlightenment at a Soto monastery in 1225. On his return to his homeland, Dōgen founded the Eiheiji temple in the Soto tradition. That lineage emphasizes enlightenment in the context of quiet sitting and everyday work.

The value of everyday experience is ...

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