Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree

Giun's Verse Comments on Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

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Steven Heine
  • Oxford: 
    Oxford University Press
    , September
     272 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Christopher Byrne forthcoming.


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 (Shobogenzo), one of the main versions of the masterwork written by Eihei Dogen (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 (Gosho). While Distinguished 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 Dogen's thought as suggested in each chapter, the Verse Comments is crucial for understanding how Dogen'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 Dogen's masterwork, the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Steven Heine is professor and director of Asian studies at Florida International University, and an expert on East Asian religions, especially the origins and spread of Zen Buddhism from China to Japan. He has published more than thirty monographs and edited volumes, including several works specializing in the life and thought of Zen master Dogen (1200-1253) such as Did Dogen Go to China? and Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies.



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