Zen is a poignant, in-depth, reverent and surprisingly moving portrait of Eihei Dogen, the great 13th century Japanese Buddhist master. He studied at Buddhist centers in China and established a monastic practice which emphasizes sitting meditation; he is regarded as the founder of the Soto school of Zen. This feature film is impressively well-researched and produced with great attention to authentic detail.
From pilgrimages to China to armed monks at war, the Kamakura Era was a time of upheaval in Japan and saw the beginnings of both the Rinzai and Soto schools of Zen, and the arrival of tea. The country would never be the same again.
Born in 1200, orphaned at eight and initiated as a monk at age fourteen, Dogen is perhaps best known in the west for his texts Instructions to the Cook and a collection of discourses called the Shobo Genzo. He led a renaissance in practice and doctrine in Japan, and his Zen is the practical implementation of the principle of non-duality. Two key points are: there is no gap between practice and enlightenment; and, right behavior in daily life is Buddhism itself.
To study the way of enlightenment is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. – Dogen (translation by Kazuaki Tanahashi)