In this Preface, the author tackles a number of issues before he talks about the personality and thought of Dōgen the monk. First, he asks whether it is possible for a layman like him with regard to Zen to understand Dōgen, who emphasized single-minded zazen and stopped reading ancient accounts of the moment of self-cultivation. Second, he wonders what would be the point of trying to make Dōgen's personality and his manifestation of the truth serve our cultural and historical understanding. The author argues that a layman's explication of Dōgen is not necessarily fruitless. He also considers why religions appear in various “particularized forms,” and why these particularized forms in religion have “history.” He contends that religious truth is the root of all of these particularized forms. The author ends his explanation by saying that his purpose is to use Dōgen to understand the history of human culture.
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