BOOK> Steven Heine, Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun's Verse Comments on Dōgen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

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Crosspost from H-Buddhism

Discussion published by Steven Heine on Monday, July 27, 202

Steven Heine, Professor and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University, announces a new publication titled Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun's Verse Comments on Dōgen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.


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.


This is the second major monograph published by Steven Heine this year on Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō, following Readings of Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Columbia University Press, 2020).




Part I. Historical Investigations
1. A Mystical Path Stemming from Eiheiji: The Significance of Text and Author
2. Nothing Hidden in the Entire Universe: Giun and the Formation of the 60-Fascicle Edition
Part II. Translations and Interpretations
3. Giun's Verse Comments with Capping Phrases: Full Text with Glosses
4. Selected Supplementary Poems: By Giun and Other Relevant Monk-Poets
Epilogue. Before, During, and After the Ban: History of Commentaries on Dōgen's Treasury