The Mountains and Waters Sutra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s “Sansuikyo”

An indispensable map of a classic Zen text.

“Mountains and waters are the expression of old buddhas.”

So begins “Sansuikyo,” or “Mountains and Waters Sutra,” a masterpiece of poetry and insight from Eihei Dogen, the thirteenth-century founder of the Soto school of Zen.

Shohaku Okumura—renowned for his translations of and magisterial teachings on Dogen—guides the reader through the rich layers of metaphor and meaning in “Sansuikyo,” which is often thought to be the most beautiful essay in Dogen’s monumental Shobogenzo. His wise and friendly voice shows us the questions Dogen poses and helps us realize what the answers could be. What does it mean for mountains to walk? How are mountains an expression of Buddha’s truth, and how can we learn to hear the deep teachings of river waters? Throughout this luminous volume, we learn how we can live in harmony with nature in respect and gratitude—and awaken to our true nature.

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