Abstract: The Lotus Sutra is prominent among the many sources quoted in writings of Japanese Zen master Dōgen (1200–1253), highlighting the Mahāyāna context of his teachings and world-view. This work focuses on Dōgen’s use of the pivotal story in Lotus Sutra chapters fifteen and sixteen-myriad bodhisattvas emerging from underground and the inconceivable life-span of the Buddha—to express his own worldview of earth, space, and time as forces for spiritual awakening. The shift in perspective in this sutra story reflects a fundamental shift in East Asian Buddhist soteriology. A close reading of Dōgen’s references to this story reveals his hermeneutical play with its imagery of ground, space, and time, expressing immediate awakening beyond stages of cultivation. Dōgen cites the inconceivable life-span story as an encouragement to present practice, in which he sees the enduring life of Śākyamuni Buddha. Dōgen’s presentation exemplifies the fundamental role of metaphor, images, and imagination in East Asian Mahāyāna practice and teaching. Dōgen’s view of space and ground as capable of awakening and spiritual agency influences his celebrated teachings on time, expressing the spatialization of temporality. The first chapter introduces the story in Lotus Sutra chapters fifteen and sixteen, discussing its pivotal role in the sutra’s meaning and literary structure, and introduces Dōgen’s view of space awakening. Chapter two relates a series of hermeneutical and methodological issues involved in the Mahāyāna and for Dōgen, including fundamental Buddhist hermeneutic stances; relevant modern hermeneutic perspectives, especially from Paul Ricoeur; and examples of influences from the Lotus Sutra on Dōgen’s discourse style. Chapter three traces responses and commentaries to Lotus Sutra chapters fifteen and sixteen from prominent East Asian Buddhist teachers, featuring early Chinese teachers Daosheng, Zhiyi, and Zhanran; Dōgen’s rough contemporaries in Japan, Saigyō Myōe, and Nichiren, and later Japanese Zen figures Hakuin, Ryōkan, and the modern Shunryū Suzuki. Chapter four is a close reading of a range of references by Dōgen to Lotus Sutra chapters fifteen and sixteen. Chapter five discusses Mahāyāna perspectives on earth, space, and time as context for Dōgen’s world-view. The Afterword suggests areas for further study.