I was reading through a history of Buddhism recently, which led me to a famous title called the Shōbōgenzō by Eihei Dōgen, written in the 13th century. I highly recommend this book.

I know there is a great deal of writing on Zen from the 20th century and beyond, but for my purposes I'm interested in literature that was written prior to the year 1900. Either explicitly about Zen Buddhism, or a closely related precursor to Zen.

Were there any other important works on this subject dating back to it's inception? What were they?

  • bodhidharma anthology is a fun and generic response. I love Dogen's recorded saying anthology, it is <3
    – user23997
    Aug 3, 2022 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Any of the koan collections immediately spring to mind - the Mumonkan, the Blue Rock Record, Entangling Vines, etc. Other than those, a number of famous Zen teachers wrote substantial bodies of work. Hakuin, Huineng, Seng t'san, and even Bodhidharma all have works attributed to them (prior to the 18th century, whether they themselves actually wrote those texts is a matter of debate). Just look up any of the key Zen personalities in a university library catalog and see if they wrote anything.

And geez, Shobogenzo? I'd rather have my gums scraped! Dogen can be monumentally obtuse! 😜

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