Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice
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Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  131 ratings  ·  20 reviews
This book offers with infused and wise humor, an eminently practial presentation of meditation, and with clarity shows how Zen Buddhism can be an ever-unfolding path of inquiry.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 15th 2004 by Wisdom Publications (first published 2004)
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Electric Funeral
Reading about Zen is alot like reading about food. There are those glossy coffetable books that show off the aesthetic of fresh food or the creativity of the author/photographer and there are solid books filled with recipies that make your mouth water. It`s theory and practice. There are a lot of Books on Zen and Buddhism that are like those glossy tomes, all theory and aesthetics but no practical information on how to actually achieve the results pictured there. Opening the hand of thought is a...more
A. Jesse
Highly recommended, but don't feel bad if you skim the second half.

The book's early chapters offer the most specific and practical guide to zazen that I have read in print -- the method, its goals, and what the meditator can reasonably expect to achieve. It clarifies the relationship between zazen and thought beautifully.

After that, Uchiyama Roshi heads off into the weeds, offering chapter after chapter of opinions on modern life and religion, the state of Zen in Japan, on and on ad nauseum. Unc...more
Oct 13, 2008 Shea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: dharma
The clearest thing I've read on zen practice and the dharma--maybe ever. Uchiyama is funny, human, and totally simple in his explanations of terms and practices that can often seem exotic or esoteric when taken up by other writers. He actually provides a hilarious diagram of "The Mind of Zazen" that clarifies things for me immensely--this is after four years of practicing zazen! It's so simple and so clear that I'm inclined to give my parents a copy and say, "This is what I'm doing, or at least...more
On the one hand, books like this are all the same. On the other hand, some are a lot better than others. And on the third hand, you realize there is no hand, because why else would you pick up a book like this?

The most frustrating part about reading about a religion different from one's own tradition is the unexplained cultural biases. As an evangelical creed, Christianity doesn't really have this problem -- theirs is the one path to salvation if X, Y, and Z are true, and we have 2000+ years of...more
John Porcellino
Uchiyama Roshi was a Soto Zen iconoclast, and these teachings for modern practitioners are direct and no-bullshit. This book contains down-to-earth discussions about and instructions for zazen, Zen meditation. Thoroughly contemporary and rock solid.
A no-nonsense introduction to zazen practice and everything it embodies and produces. Personally i still have my doubts about the method, especially the sesshins, since there is a considerable risk of dissociation and other pathologies, for which there is little support in zen circles, to my knowing.

My biggest critique and the reason i did not give 5 stars is the lack of teaching on how to integrate zazen into daily life, especially for people who have to work hard and support children, etc. I'm...more
Viet Hung Nguyen
Trích dẫn từ sách:
- Chúng ta thường không nhận ra những khoảnh khắc hiện tiền như là cảnh trí mở phơi bên trong tự thân đại đồng. Thay vào đó, chúng ta phân tích cái bây giờ. Chúng ta tự đặt mình bên trong dòng chảy hư ảo của thời gian, từ quá khứ tới tương lai và trở nên bị trói buộc bởi những mối tương quan của chúng ta với kẻ khác, bị trói buộc bởi sức mạnh của những thói quen trong quá khứ và bởi những mục đích của chúng ta. Chúng ta bị lôi cuốn bởi những trông mong của cái Tôi nhỏ bé và rốt...more
Feb 06, 2009 Eric added it
Shelves: zen
Another one that's worth putting near the top of my list. Like Everyday Zen, this is one of those no-nonsense, no-gimmicks books that gives you feeling of being very much the real thing. The thing I found most helpful here was Uchiyama's explanation of how to do zazen, particularly his ZZ' line. The man's parting words were quite helpful to me too. Finally, I always appreciate it when people point out all the places where you can get the wrong idea about Zen (e.g. you shouldn't think of it as a...more
Opening the hand if thought is an important book on the foundation of Zen Buddhism This is no light weight book on meditation but the real deal. The book breaks down the true essence of the method of practicing zazen in the correct form. The book gives a good translation and meaning of various text for us westerners. I found it heavy going midway through, with some parts I had a hard time understanding. This is a book that I will appreciate more as I gain more understanding and sit....more
I read this book in a busy time of exams and final papers. Uchiyama brings passion and sincerity in the practice of Zazen. A unique teacher who is really accessible and yet point to a sincere practice that takes vow of commitment from those who sit zazen. A great advocate of Shikantaza, a just sitting approach to Zazen.

To my surprise, he quoted a lot of Christian Scriptures. He studied Western Philosophy and Christian Theology before becoming a Buddhist Zen monk.
This was recommended to me by a zen-savvy friend as a good resource for getting started with meditation. That portion of the book is very good, and I have found it helpful. There is much more to be found here though, and while interesting and well handled, it's very deep and heady stuff. This is not a book you will fully digest in one sitting. I expect to revisit it over time.
Closest similarity to my own belief/practice than any other I've read. Probably a bit "dense" for those who are not already familiar with the basics of Buddhism or are not philosophically inclined.
Joe Tedesco
Uchiyama gets to the point, straight to the point. He presents the teachings and practice in a way the western mind can grasp. A must read!
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Stephen Rafferty
So far so good half way through and remains mostly understandable! There are a few convoluted places but none too daunting!
First book I read on the foundations of Zen Buddhist practice. Highly recommended.
Andrew Cox
Not as great as other Zen Buddhist books I'd read. I'd say skip it.
Lawrence Barrow
Recommended by @digitalzendo as a fine book on #zen practice
Henrik Näsmark
I really liked the first half.
mostly gibberish
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