Book Announcement: Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun’s Verse Comments on Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun’s Verse Comments on Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

Steven Heine

OVERVIEW

This book provides a translation and critical bilingual edition on the Verse Comments on the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. The Verse Comments by Giun (1253-1333), the fifth abbot of Eiheiji temple, is an important early medieval Japanese commentary on the 60-chapter edition of the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shōbōgenzō), one of the main versions of the masterwork written by Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253), the founder of the Soto Zen sect in Japan who established Eiheiji in the mid-1240s.

Giun’s Verse Comments was one of only two commentaries of the Treasury written during the Kamakura era, with the other being a prose analysis of the 75-chapter edition, called Prose Comments on the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, often abbreviated to Distinguished Comments (Gōshō). While the Prose Comments fell into disuse rather quickly and was only revived nearly three hundred years later, the Verse Comments was circulated widely from the time of its composition and read by many Soto monks over the next couple of centuries. Offering poems and cryptic expressions that seek to capture the spiritual flavor and essential meaning of Dōgen’s thought as suggested in each chapter, the Verse Comments is crucial for understanding how Dōgen’s Treasury was received and appropriated in the religious and literary context of medieval Japan.

In this book, Steven Heine’s careful interpretations, historical investigations, and theoretical reflections demonstrate the significance of Giun’s writings in light of the history of pre-modern and modern commentaries on Dōgen’s masterwork, the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.

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About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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