Eiheiji and Dōgen Hagiography
This chapter explains that Dōgen occupies a prominent place in the history of Japanese religions and is primarily remembered as the founder of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism. As such, he is afforded high status as one of the most significant Buddhists in Japanese history. The chapter examines the process and function developed during the years for the remembrance of Dōgen, or the ways in which his memory has been used and developed over time, including the religious rituals and historical vicissitudes that helped elevate Dōgen to his present position of prominence. It uses the example of Dōgen to illustrate how new historical identities are constructed in response to social imperatives and institutional struggles. Furthermore, it argues that we cannot fully understand Japanese religions in general and Sōtō Zen, in particular, unless we become more sensitive to the ways in which these historical, social, and institutional factors shape our received images of the past.
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