Gudo Nishijima’s Books

Here are links to the Amazon listings of Gudo Nishijima Roshi’s books. You can click on these links to go directly to Amazon’s website and order the books.


This is an edited collection of lectures delivered in the early 1980’s. It offers the simplest most “user-friendly” introduction to Nishijima’s philosophy. Nishijima’s American student Jeff Bailey did an excellent job of conveying Nishijima’s ideas in colloquial English. A new chapter has been added this edition to make the work more up-to-date.

SHOBOGENZO (Dogen Sangha Books edition)

This was the first complete edition of Master Dogen’s 13th century masterwork Shobogenzo (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) available in English. Nishijima and his student Chodo Cross strove to present an English edition that was as close as possible to the original Japanese. Copious footnotes have been added to help readers understand the more difficult passages and trace Dogen’s many references to older Buddhist writings. The Dogen Sangha Books editions are in trade paperback format. These are exactly the same as the former Windbell Press editions published in the 1990’s (and now out of print) except that the books themselves are slightly larger.

SHOBOGENZO (Numata Press edition)

The contents of this edition are essentially the same as the Dogen Sangha edition. But the Numata Press edition is a handsome and durable hardback version. Numata Press has also eleminated the use of Chinese and Japanese characters found in the Dogen Sangha Books edition. This change makes the work a bit easier to follow for those unfamiliar with Japanese or Chinese.


It is often said that the difference between Rinzai Zen and Soto Zen is that Rinzai Zen uses koans, the sometimes strange sounding or illogical seeming stories of ancient Zen masters, and Soto does not. This isn’t true. Soto Zen uses koans extensively, but in a very different way.

Shinji Shobogenzo is Dogen’s collection of 301 koans he studied in China. Legend has it he copied them all down in a single night just before leaving China. But that’s probably an exaggeration. He used many of these koans as the basis for chapters of Shobogenzo. This was the first ever complete English translation of this important book of Dogen’s and is still the best and most straight-forward translation available. Nishijima Roshi adds his own brief comments to each koan to help readers understand their meaning and historical background. Nishijima’s comments will give readers an idea about how koans are used in Soto style Zen.


This is not a standard translation of Mulamadhyamakakarika. Translator Nishijima Roshi believes that the original translation from Chinese into Sanskrit by the Ven. Kumarajiva (circa 400 C.E.) was faulty and that Kumarajiva’s interpretation has influenced every other translation since. Avoiding reference to any other translations or commentaries, Nishijima Roshi has translated the entire text anew. This edition is, therefore, like no other. An expert in the philosophical works of Dogen Zenji (1200-1254 CE), Nishijima says in his introduction, “My own thoughts regarding Buddhism rely solely upon what Master Dogen wrote about the philosophy. So when reading the Mulamadhyamakakarika it is impossible for me not to be influenced by Master Dogen’s Buddhist ideas.” Thus this book is heavily and unabashedly influenced by the work of Master Dogen. Working with Brad Warner, Nishijima has produced a highly readable and eminently practical translation and commentary intended to be most useful to those engaged in meditation practice.

The Mulamadhyamakakarika (MMK) was written by Master Nagarjuna, an Indian Buddhist philosopher of the second century. Mahayana Buddhism had arrived at its golden age and Nagarjuna was considered its highest authority. The MMK is revered as the most conclusive of his several Buddhist works. Its extraordinarily precise and simple expression suggests that it was written when Master Nagarjuna was mature in his Buddhist practice and research.


This book is a collection of ten shorts talks on Buddhism by Japanese Zen Master Gudo Nishijima. In the first part, Master Nishijima talks about his theory of three philosophies and one reality – his interpretation of Gautama Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. Each talk is followed by a lively discussion and questions and answers. The second part contains translations of three talks given by Master Nishijima on NHK Radio in Japan in 1994. The talks are titled: Buddhism & Action, Action & Daily Life, and Buddhism & Zazen. “…If we look at the many Sutras written about the Buddha’s realization we can conclude that he reached that viewpoint or state because he revered action. Action cannot exist at any other time or place than the present moment here and now. Another way of looking at this is in terms of past, present and future: no matter what mistakes we have made in the past, although we may regret them, we can never return to the past to put things right. At the same time, although we want to attain our dream or reach some aim in the future, we can never go into the future to reach our dream or aim. But if we look at life as centered on acting, we see that we can only really exist in the present. We can never return to the past,and we cannot go into the future. This is the essence of what Gautama Buddha taught-real existence is the present moment…”

Zen Meditation