Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Dogen was born in Japan the illegitimate son of a great feudal lord. A brilliant child he soon was a high ranking official in the court. He left this position to become a lowly monk. Like many bright students he became fixed on one idea. The Buddha taught that all people were born with Buddha nature i.e. the capacity for enlightenment. Why then, he questioned, was it necessary to study and to live many lifetimes to become a Buddha?
Dogen traveled to the Chinese mainland and sought a teacher. Zen Buddhism originated in China where it was called “Chan". Chan or Zen was heavily influenced by Chinese Taoism. After becoming disenchanted with several teachers if the Chan lineage he came to study with the unorthodox master Tiāntóng Rújìng. One day he heard is master say “cast off body and mind" and young Dogen had a moment of clarity and saw the meaning of true liberation of mind and spirit. He saw that the practice of meditation or “zazen" and enlightenment were one and the same. That is the practice of the way with single mindedness is, in Dogen’s view. the same as enlightenment or as Dogen himself put it there was no “gap" between practice and our daily lives.
Feature Film. Japanese with English Subs (two hours)