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Essential Zen

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The best collection of Zen wisdom and wit since "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones": koans, sayings, poems, and stories by Eastern and American Zen teachers and students capture the delightful, challenging, mystifying, mind-stopping, outrageous, and scandalous heart of Zen.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by HarperOne (first published November 1st 1994)
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I liked this book quite a bit. It is a collection of quotes and other words about Zen, called Koans, from ancient times to now.

The preface says Zen is not really about reading about Zen, and Zen is outside of words, but you have to start somewhere, and people have been writing about it for ever, so here you go.

It ranges from interesting to mind bending to near incomprehensible.

“If you are afraid of being grabbed by God, don’t look at a wall.
Definitely don’t sit still.”
Jiyu Kennett

I was intrigue
Nov 04, 2008 Amit rated it 3 of 5 stars
an excerpt that i find endlessly hilarious:

Seung Sahn would say, "When you eat, just eat. When you read the newspaper, just read the newspaper. Don't do anything other than what you are doing."

One day a student saw him reading the newspaper while he was eating. The student asked if this did not contradict his teaching. Seung Sahn said, "When you eat and read the newspaper, just eat and read the newspaper."
Tim Weakley
Without desire everything is sufficient ~ Ryokan

I'm still trying to work out if I consider that to be a negative, or a positive statement. This very interesting collection of zen source works is made up of a well selected group of authors modern and ancient. Gary Snyder and leonard Cohen are here. So are Hakuin, Ikkyu, and Ryokan. I don't suggest that you will understand, or even appreciate everything in the book. I know I didn't. What I will say is that if you have the time to read, and then re
Dwan Tape
An outstanding collection. I'm sure I'll reread this more than once. I know I've just touched the surface of many of these.

I suspect that those who criticize the "essential zen"-ness of the book have not read the introduction, wherein the origins of this collection - and the consensus and community involvement it took to make it - are discussed.
Special Way
A collection of short, but wise, teachings. A good resource for those interested in deepening their practice and/or bringing more awareness to their lives. My favorite so far:

A student asked Soen Nakagawa during a meditation retreat, "I am very discouraged. What should I do?"
Soen replied, "Encourage others."
As I contemplate the Infinite - I find comfort, challenge and inspiration from this work.

Perhaps a quote from another book - "Zen for Beginners" will help illustrate what Zen is all about...

" A funny thing happened on my way to all-pervading emptiness and bliss."
Plenty of rehashed material easy to pick up from elsewhere. Does not give overview as title infers. A few neat insights, mostly material that I've gained else where as a non-reader about this subject.
Random anecdotes from the zen practitioners past and present. Every 20 pages something somewhat interesting. Abandoned 2/3 through.
John Jolly
Nov 26, 2007 John Jolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Zen
Shelves: buddhism
Great book covering the different aspects of Zen literature, with explanations and some history.
Kathryn Jennex
I read a few pages from this book when I need to calm down. Works for me!
Antoine  McGrath
A Zen collection to open the mind in a poetic way.
A collection of Zen Poetry, like some works better than others. A quick read, worth checking out.
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Kazuaki Tanahashi, born and trained in Japan and active in the United States since 1977, has had solo exhibitions of his calligraphic paintings internationally. He has taught East Asian calligraphy at eight international conferences of calligraphy and lettering arts. Also a peace and environmental worker for decades, he is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.
More about Kazuaki Tanahashi...

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