Buddhism: Zen: Main
Zen Buddhism: Main
Leading Buddhist scholar Sam van Schaik explores the history and essence of Zen, based on a new translation of one of the earliest surviving collections of teachings by Zen masters. These teachings, titled The Masters and Students of the Lanka, were discovered in a sealed cave on the old Silk Road, in modern Gansu, China, in the early twentieth century. All more than a thousand years old, the manuscripts have sometimes been called the Buddhist Dead Sea Scrolls, and their translation has opened a new window onto the history of Buddhism. Both accessible and illuminating, this book explores the continuities between the ways in which Zen was practiced in ancient times, and how it is practiced today in East Asian countries such as Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as in the emerging Western Zen tradition.
Zen: The Authentic Gate by Yamada Koun. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2015.
Whether a beginner or at the highest level of practice, learn Zen from one of the greatest masters of the twentieth century. Why practice Zen? What sets Zen apart from religion? What are its different practices? These questions, and more, are examined and answered by Zen Master Koun Yamada, whose Dharma heirs include Robert Aitken, Ruben Habito, and David Loy. Through compelling stories and a systematic approach, he guides the reader through creating and sustaining a lifelong practice. Warm and ecumenical in tone, Koun uses the insights of Zen to bring a deeper understanding of faith. This book is an easy-to-follow guide to creating an effortless and natural practice regardless of background, tradition, or religion.
No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong, edited by Peter Levitt. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2010.
In this work, Zen master Jakusho Kwong-roshi shows us how to treasure the ordinary activities of our daily lives through an understanding of simple Buddhist practices and ideas. The author’s spontaneous, poetic, and pragmatic teachings—so reminiscent of his spiritual predecessor Shunryu Suzuki—transport us on an exciting journey into the very heart of Zen and its meaningful traditions. Because Kwong-roshi can transmit the most intimate thing in the most accessible way, we learn how to ignite our own vitality, wisdom, and compassion and awaken a feeling of intimacy with the world. It is like having a conversation with our deepest and wisest self. Jakusho Kwong-roshi was originally inspired to study Zen because of zenga, the ancient art of Zen calligraphy. Throughout this book he combines examples of his own unique style of calligraphy, with less-known stories from the Zen tradition, personal anecdotes—including moving and humorous stories of his training with Suzuki-roshi—and his own lucid and inspiring teachings. All of this comes together to create an intimate expression of the enlightening world of Zen.
Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice by Kosho Uchiyama. New York: Wisdom Publications, 2005.
For over thirty years, this work has offered an introduction to Zen Buddhism and meditation unmatched in clarity and power. This is the revised edition of Kosho Uchiyama's singularly incisive classic, containing even more useful material: new prefaces, an index, and extended endnotes, in addition to a revised glossary. As Jisho Warner writes in her preface, this book "goes directly to the heart of Zen practice... showing how Zen Buddhism can be a deep and life-sustaining activity." She goes on to say, "Uchiyama looks at what a person is, what a self is, how to develop a true self not separate from all things, one that can settle in peace in the midst of life." By turns humorous, philosophical, and personal, Uchiyama's work is above all a great book for the Buddhist practitioner. It's a perfect follow-up for the reader who has read Zen Meditation in Plain English and is especially useful for those who have not yet encountered a Zen teacher.
A new translation of one of the great koan collections--by the premier translator of the Chinese classics--reveals it to be a literary and philosophical masterwork beyond its association with Chan/Zen. A monk asked: “A dog too has Buddha-nature, no?” And with the master’s enigmatic one-word response begins the great No-Gate Gateway (Wu-Men Kuan), ancient China’s classic foray into the inexpressible nature of mind and reality. For nearly eight hundred years, this text (also known by its Japanese name, Mumonkan) has been the most widely used koan collection in Zen Buddhism—and with its comic storytelling and wild poetry, it is also a remarkably compelling literary masterwork. In his radical new translation, David Hinton places this classic for the first time in the philosophical framework of its native China, in doing so revealing a new way of understanding Zen—in which generic "Zen perplexity" is transformed into a more approachable and earthy mystery. With the poetic abilities he has honed in his many translations, Hinton brilliantly conveys the book’s literary power, making it an irresistible reading experience capable of surprising readers into a sudden awakening that is beyond logic and explanation.
The Chan Whip Anthology: A Companion to Zen Practice, edited & translated by Jeffrey L. Broughton. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Jeffrey L. Broughton offers an annotated translation of the Whip for Spurring Students Onward Through the Chan Barrier Checkpoints (Changuan cejin), which he abbreviates to Chan Whip. This anthology, compiled by Yunqi Zhuhong (1535-1615), has served as a Chan handbook in both China and Japan since its publication in 1600. To characterize the Chan Whip as "late Ming Chan" is inaccurate - in fact, it is a survey of virtually the entirety of Chan literature, running from the late 800s (Tang dynasty) to about 1600 (late Ming). The Chan extracts, the bulk of the book, are followed by a short section of extracts from Buddhist canonical works (showing Zhuhong's adherence to the "convergence of Chan and the teachings"). The Chan extracts deliberately eschew abstract discussions of theory in favor of autobiographical narratives, anecdotal sketches, exhortations, sermons, sayings, and letters that deal very frankly - sometimes humorously - with the concrete ups and downs of lived practice. Recent decades have seen the publication in English of a number of handbooks on Zen practice by contemporary masters. This book, though 400 years old, is as invaluable to today's practitioners as any modern work.
Zen Sourcebook: Traditional Documents from China, Korea, and Japan edited by Stephen Addiss with Stanley Lombardo & Judith Roitman. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
"Featuring a carefully selected collection of source documents, this tome includes traditional teaching tools from the Zen Buddhist traditions of China (Ch'an), Korea (Son), and Japan (Zen), including texts created by women. The selections provide both a good feel for the varieties of Zen and an experience of its common core. ... The texts are experiential teachings and include storytelling, poetry, autobiographies, catechisms, calligraphy, paintings, and koans (paradoxical meditation questions that are intended to help aspirants transcend logical, linguistic limitations). Contextual commentary prefaces each text. Wade-Giles transliteration is used, although Pinyin, Korean, Japanese, and Sanskrit terms are linked in appendixes. An insightful introduction by Arai contributes a religious studies perspective. The bibliography references full translations of the selections. A thought-provoking discussion about the problems of translation is included. ... Highly recommended." --Choice Reviews
Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine & Dale S. Wright. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005.
This is a companion volume to The Koan and The Zen Canon, by the same editors. The first volume collected original essays on koan collections, recorded sayings of individual masters, histories of major schools, and compilations of monastic regulations. The second focuses on the early history of Zen in China, providing overview assessments of many of the most important canonical texts that set the Zen tradition in motion throughout East Asia. The present work will follow that historical movement, focusing primarily on texts from Korea and Japan that brought this Buddhist movement to fruition. Although enormously diverse in style and structure all of the texts and genres of texts considered here were fundamental to the unfolding of Zen in East Asia. The range of genres reveals the varieties of Zen practice, from rules of daily practice to sermons and meditation manuals. The all new essays in this volume will be contributed by an international team of distinguished scholars of Buddhism. It is aimed at broad audience including college students, Zen practitioners, and scholars of East Asian history, religion, and culture, as well as specialists in Buddhist history.
An effective new approach to Buddhist practice that combines the rigor of traditional meditation and study with the psychological support necessary for practice in modern life. Zen teacher Jules Shuzen Harris argues that contemporary American Buddhists face two primary challenges: (1) “spiritual bypassing,” which means avoiding or repressing psychological problems in favor of “pretend Enlightenment,” and (2) settling for secularized forms of Buddhism or mindfulness that have lost touch with the deeper philosophical and ethical underpinnings of the religion. Drawing on his decades of experience as a Zen practitioner, teacher, and psychotherapist, Harris writes that both of these challenges can be met through the combination of a committed meditation practice, a deep study of Buddhist psychological models, and tools from a psychotherapeutic method known as “Mind-Body Bridging.” Using this unique approach, students can do the real work of awakening without either denying their embodied emotional life or missing out on the rich array of insights offered by Buddhist psychology and the Zen practice tradition.
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice by Meido Moore. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 2018.
The recognition of the true nature of oneself and the universe is the aim of Rinzai Zen--but that experience, known as kensho, is really just the beginning of a life of refining that discovery and putting it into practice in the world. Rinzai Zen, with its famed discipline and its emphasis on koan practice, is one of two main forms of Zen practiced in the West, but it is less familiar than the more prominent Soto school. Meido Moore here remedies that situation by providing this compact and complete introduction to Zen philosophy and practice from the Rinzai perspective. It is an excellent entrée to a venerable tradition that goes back through the renowned master Hakuin Ekaku in eighteenth-century Japan to its origins in Tang China--and that offers a path to living with insight for people today.
Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous Zen Temple by Kaoru Nonomura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. New York: Kodansha USA, 2015.
At the age of thirty, Kaoru Nonomura left his family, his girlfriend, and his job as a designer to undertake a year of ascetic training at Eiheiji, one of the most rigorous Zen training temples in Japan. This book is Nonomura's account of his experiences. He skillfully describes every aspect of training, including how to meditate, how to eat, how to wash, and even how to use the toilet, in a way that is easy to understand even for readers with no knowledge of Zen Buddhism. This first-person account also describes Nonomura's struggles in the face of beatings, hunger, exhaustion, fear, and loneliness, the comfort he draws from his friendships with the other trainees, and his quiet determination to give his life spiritual meaning. After writing Eat Sleep Sit, Nonomura returned to his normal life as a designer, but his book has maintained its popularity in Japan, selling more than 100,000 copies since its first printing in 1996. Beautifully written, and a fascinating insight into a lifestyle of hardships that few people could endure, this is a book that will appeal to all those with an interest in Zen Buddhism and to anyone with an interest in the quest for spiritual growth.
Public Zen, Personal Zen: A Buddhist Introduction by Peter D. Hershock. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Among Buddhist traditions, Zen has been remarkably successful in garnering and sustaining interest outside the Buddhist homelands of Asia, and “zen” is now part of the global cultural lexicon. This deeply informed book explores the history of this enduring Japanese tradition—from its beginnings as a form of Buddhist thought and practice imported from China to its reinvention in medieval Japan as a force for religious, political, and cultural change to its role in Japan’s embrace of modernity. Going deeper, it also explores Zen through the experiences and teachings of key individuals who shaped Zen as a tradition committed to the embodiment of enlightenment by all. By bringing together Zen’s institutional and personal dimensions, Hershock offers readers a nuanced yet accessible introduction to Zen as well as distinctive insights into issues that remain relevant today, including the creative tensions between globalization and localization, the interplay of politics and religion, and the possibilities for integrating social transformation with personal liberation. Including an introduction to the basic teachings and practices of Buddhism and an account of their spread across Asia, this work deftly blends historical detail with the felt experiences of Zen practitioners grappling with the meaning of human suffering, personal freedom, and the integration of social and spiritual progress.
A stunningly beautiful, full-color book of Buddhist paintings by twentieth-century Japanese artist Iwasaki Tsuneo, interpreted by Buddhist scholar Paula Arai. Little known during his lifetime, the Japanese biologist and artist Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002) created a strikingly original and exquisitely intricate body of modern Buddhist artwork. His paintings depict themes ranging from classical Buddhist iconography to majestic views of our universe as revealed by science--all created with the use of painstakingly rendered miniature calligraphies of the Heart Sutra, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. In this groundbreaking book, Paula Arai presents over fifty of Iwasaki's paintings, elucidating their Buddhist contexts and meanings as well as their intimate connections to Iwasaki's life as a war survivor, teacher, scientist, and devout Buddhist practitioner. Having been posthumously recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Iwasaki's paintings are sure to be regarded as an innovative and heartfelt contribution to the artistic legacy of twentieth-century Buddhism.
The Complete Cold Mountain: Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan by Hanshan, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi & Peter Levitt. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2018.
A fresh translation--and new envisioning--of the most accessible and beloved of all classic Chinese poetry. Welcome to the magical, windswept world of Cold Mountain. These poems from the literary riches of China have long been celebrated by cultures of both East and West—and continue to be revered as among the most inspiring and enduring works of poetry worldwide. This groundbreaking new translation presents the full corpus of poetry traditionally associated with Hanshan (“Cold Mountain”) and sheds light on its origins and authorship like never before. Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt honor the contemplative Buddhist elements of this classic collection of poems while revealing Hanshan’s famously jubilant humor, deep love of solitude in nature, and overwhelming warmth of heart. In addition, this translation features the complete original Chinese text and many fascinating supplements.
The Sound of Cherry Blossoms: Zen Lessons from the Garden on Contemplative Design by Martin Hakubai Mosko & Alxe Noden. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 2018.
Contemplative design and Zen teachings--a look at how we can transform our lives and our work through the lens of Japanese garden design. Garden design is the way of discovering the garden. And the garden is a metaphor for life itself. Part garden design philosophy and part Zen Buddhism, this book eloquently shows us how the principles of garden design are the same guidelines we can follow to design our life. Intentional living is the subject of design. When we approach our work in the garden, or in our life, through the practice of contemplative design, we can elevate the whole; we can unite the spiritual with the ordinary; we can join heaven and earth.
Painting Peace: Art in a Time of Global Crisis by Kazuaki Tanahashi. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 2018.
A revered modern artist and Zen teacher offers an inspirational account of how his art has been the expression of a life of social activism. "Awakening," says Kazuaki Tanahashi, "is to realize the infinite value of each moment of your own life as well as of other beings, then to continue to act accordingly." This book is the record of a life spent acting accordingly: through his prose, poetry, letters, lyrics, and art, Tanahashi provides an inspirational account of a what it’s been like to work for peace and justice, from his childhood in Japan to the present day. Included are fascinating vignettes of the seminal figures who refined his views--among them Daniel Ellsberg, Gary Snyder, Mayumi Oda, and Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido--as well as striking examples of the art he has so famously used to bear witness to the infinite value of life.
"What is the sound of one hand clapping?" "Does a dog have Buddha-nature?" These cryptic expressions are among the best-known examples of koans, the confusing, often contradictory sayings that form the centerpiece of Zen Buddhist learning and training. Viewed as an ideal method for attaining and transmitting an unimpeded experience of enlightenment, they became the main object of study in Zen meditation, where their contemplation was meant to exhaust the capacity of the rational mind and the expressiveness of speech. Koan compilations, which include elegant poetic and eloquent prose commentaries on cryptic dialogues, are part of a great literary tradition in China, Japan, and Korea that appealed to intellectuals who sought spiritual fulfillment through interpreting elaborate rhetoric related to mysterious metaphysical exchanges. In this compact volume, Steven Heine, who has written extensively on Zen Buddhism and koans, introduces and analyzes the classic background of texts and rites and explores the contemporary significance of koans to illuminate the full implications of this ongoing tradition. He delves deeply into the inner structure of koan literature to uncover and interpret profound levels of metaphorical significance. At the same time, he takes the reader beyond the veil of vagueness and inscrutability to an understanding of how koan writings have been used in pre-modern East Asia and are coming to be evoked and implemented in modern American practice of Zen.
Entangling Vines: A Classic Collection of Zen Koans edited & translated by Thomas Yuho Kirchner. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2013.
Entangling Vines, a translation of the Shumon kattoshu, is one of the few major koan texts to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Indeed, Kajitani Sonin (1914 - 95), former chief abbot of Shokoku-ji and author of an annotated, modern-Japanese translation of the Kattoshu, commented that "herein are compiled the basic Dharma materials of the koan system." Most of the central koans of the contemporary Rinzai koan curriculum are contained in this work. A distinctive feature of Entangling Vines is that, unlike The Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Record, it presents the koans "bare," with no introductions, commentaries, or verses. Its straightforward structure lends the koans added force and immediacy, emphasizing the Great Matter, the essential point to be interrogated, and providing ample material for the rigors of examining and refining Zen experience. Containing 272 cases and extensive note material, the collection is indispensable for serious koan training and will also be of interest for anyone drawn to Zen literature. The present translation had its origins in the discussions between three forward-looking modern Japanese Zen masters and Kirchner himself, an experienced Zen monk.
Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans by Richard Shrobe. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press, 2010.
Zen koans are stories of exchanges between Zen masters and their disciples at the moment of enlightenment or near-enlightenment. These stories have long fascinated Western readers because of their wisdom, humor, and enigmatic quality. Drawing on over thirty years of practice and teaching, Richard Shrobe (himself a recognized Zen Master) has selected twenty-two cases from The Blue Cliff Record and Wu-men-kuan that he finds deeply meaningful and helpful for meditation practice. In this work, he provides a wealth of background information and personal anecdotes for each koan that help to illuminate its meaning without detracting from its paradoxical nature. As Shrobe reminds us, "The main core of Zen teaching is the bare bones of what is there. In a certain sense, embellishing a story takes away from the central teaching: Don’t embellish anything, just be with it as it is."
Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice by Victor Sogen Hori. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2003.
This is a classic collection of verses aimed at aiding practitioners of koan meditation to negotiate the difficult relationship between insight and language. As such it represents a major contribution to both Western Zen practice and English-language Zen scholarship. In Japan, the traditional Rinzai Zen koan curriculum includes the use of jakugo, or "capping phrases." Once a monk has successfully replied to a koan, the Zen master orders the search for a classical verse to express the monk’s insight into the koan. Special collections of these jakugo were compiled as handbooks to aid in that search. Until now, Zen students in the West, lacking this important resource, have been severely limited in carrying out this practice. This work combines and translates two standard jakugo handbooks and opens the way for incorporating this important tradition fully into Western Zen practice. For the scholar, Zen Sand provides a detailed description of the jakugo practice and its place in the overall koan curriculum, as well as a brief history of the Zen phrase book. This volume also contributes to the understanding of East Asian culture in a broader sense.
Thomas Cleary (b. 1949)