How to Raise an Ox - Foreword

Zen Practice as Taught in Zen Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo


192 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861713172

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It can be said that the writings of Dōgen are among the highest achievements not only of Japanese literature but even of world literature. The esteem in which his work is held stems at least in part from its multiple levels of purpose and meaning. When we appreciate his work as literature, it displays true poetic mastery, and yet many of his essays serve admirably as criticism. Viewed philosophically, Dōgen’s writings are a near-perfect expression of truth; while from a moral and ethical standpoint, we see beautifully expressed the absolute goodness and righteousness of which the human race is capable. Perhaps most cogently, as a body of religious work we see in these writings that excellent state of well-accomplished enlightenment that far transcends the duality of good and evil.

Dōgen’s expression is like an inexhaustible spring that gushes out of the ground naturally and without impediment. Indeed, so freely does his wisdom spring forth that readers often feel almost lost as they read, nearly drowning in that fountain’s endless flow.

Amid such richness and subtlety, the task of translation and interpretation might overwhelm most scholars, both Eastern and Western. The demands of Dōgen’s language and insight are indeed rigorous, and present formidable challenges to translator and interpreter alike.

It is most fortunate that Dr. Cook has done the work contained in this volume. Highly respected in academic and scholarly circles for his masterful command of the Japanese language, he also has been devotedly practicing Zen meditation for many years. Dr. Cook’s practice affords him an experiential base from which he can speak with considerable authority. Going beyond the mere intellectualizing and speculation that so sharply limit much contemporary Zen scholarship, his translations and interpretations can be solidly relied upon by both scholar and practitioner.

He has chosen well from the ninety-five chapters of Dōgen’s masterwork, the Shōbōgenzō, to present some of the central aspects of Zen practice as Dōgen experienced and transmitted it.

I shall not attempt to add to what he has already expressed so well in the first half of this book. Rather, I should like to encourage readers themselves to personally experience, interpret, and evaluate what Dr. Cook says in this excellent translation and interpretation of Dōgen’s work. Then, having read about how to raise an ox, the next step, naturally, is to raise one.

Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi
Los Angeles
September, 1978


How to cite this document:
© Zen Center of Los Angeles, How to Raise an Ox (Wisdom Publications, 2002)

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How to Raise an Ox by Francis Dojun Cook is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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