The Life and Teachings of Obaku Zen Master Tetsugen Doko
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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I began the research that eventually developed into this book many years ago. Paul Watt, then my adviser at Columbia University, recommended that I look at the writings of Tetsugen and consider him as a dissertation topic. I began reading his Dharma Lessonon my daily commute into and out of Manhattan, ...
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Tetsugen Dōkō (1630–1682) is perhaps the best known Ōbaku Zen monk in Japan and the West. He is credited with producing the first complete wood block edition of the Chinese Buddhist scriptures in Japan. Many older Japanese still remember reading about Tetsugen in school textbooks used in the first half of the twentieth century. ...
Historical Biography and Analysis
CHAPTER ONE The Life of Tetsugen
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Tetsugen was born to the Saeki family, who lived in the Mashiki region of Higo province (now Kumamoto prefecture), on New Year’s Day of Kan’ei 7 (1630). We know little of his family or his childhood, not even the names by which Tetsugen was known as a youth. The Saeki family was devoted to Pure Land Buddhism, ...
CHAPTER TWO Carving the Scriptures
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Tetsugen’s most significant contribution to the Buddhist world of his day was the Ōbaku edition of the Buddhist scriptures. By means of that massive undertaking, Tetsugen provided practical support for the “back to the original sources” trend that characterized many of the intellectual movements throughout the ...
CHAPTER THREE The Teachings of Tetsugen
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Today, Tetsugen is known principally as the editor and driving force behind the Ōbaku edition of the Buddhist scriptures, and that work must be regarded as his primary contribution to Japanese Buddhism of the early modern period. In his own day, Tetsugen was already widely acclaimed for his work on the scripture project. ...
CHAPTER FOUR The Myth of Tetsugen
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After his death, Tetsugen was venerated in the customary manner within the Ōbaku sect, particularly by his surviving disciples. The Ōbaku edition of the Buddhist scriptures continued to be printed and distributed for well over two centuries. This represented the only legacy that Tetsugen purposefully bequeathed to ...
Part I Teaching Texts
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Tetsugen composed the Dharma Lesson in Japanese for a Japanese woman “deeply committed to Zen.”1 The text takes the form of an extended commentary on a single line from the Heart Sutra. Tetsugen wrote the original text in Japanese. He uses parables and images from everyday life to explain basic teachings ...
Part II Texts Related to the Buddhist Scripture Project
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Tetsugen wrote the Keen no sō to promote his plan to improve the availability of the Buddhist scriptures in Japan. In 1663, when he composed it, his intention was to raise enough funds to import an edition of the scriptures from China. He only later decided that it would be better to produce a woodblock edition in Japan. ...
Part III Poetry
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Tetsugen wrote poetry throughout his career as an Ōbaku monk. Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns traditionally used poetry to serve a variety of purposes. In many cases, an exchange of poetry with a lay disciple or visiting dignitary served as a form of social exchange. In other cases, they composed verses to commemorate ...
Part IV Other Letters and Historical Documents
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Tetsugen wrote this statement explaining events that occurred in the city of Mori from his perspective for Lord Kurushima Michikyo, the daimyō (provincial governor) of Bungo province. Tetsugen composed it after he had left the area, either late in 1674 or early in 1675; it describes an incident from the eleventh ...
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Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2006