Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn
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Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  211 ratings  ·  19 reviews
“Somebody comes into the Zen center with a lighted cigarette, walks up to the Buddha statue, blows smoke in its face, and drops ashes on its lap. You are standing there. What can you do?” This is a problem that Zen Master Seung Sahn is fond of posing to his American students who attend his Zen centers. Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is a delightful, irreverent, and often hil...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1976)
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A fun if sometimes bizarre read. Koan-intensive, lots of Seung Sahn focus, with some new information on Zen (from my perspective). /me slaps the ground.
Brian Park
An amazing book of Buddhist koans (kong-ans) taught by the late Seung Sahn. Seung Sahn is a Zen master and takes a very simple approach to his teaching, which makes this book especially accessible for the casual reader. To get the most out of this book, I'd suggest having some background info on Buddhism before delving in.

The book is a collection of lectures and conversations between Seung Sahn and his students. I got the impression that most of these occurred in between the late 60s and early 8...more
Dharmamitra Stefani
May 25, 2012 Dharmamitra Stefani rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Buddhist, Zen Practitioners especially
• So, Here's the Scenario: "Someone comes into the Zen Center with a lighted cigarette, walks up to the Buddha Statue, blows smoke in its face, and dops his ashes on the Buddha's lap. You are standing there. •What can/will You Do?"

•Wondrous Zen! The First book I was ever given, about the Dharma...and What an introduction it was! Albeit too bizarre, at the time. However, as things go in cycles, I would come back to this exact copy of "Dropping Ashes On The Buddha" (Original, first edition, paperb...more
The Korean Buddhism that i learned about in the
Empty Circle Zen group in Hobart is based onthe teachings of Seung Sahn. I think this is a very good book to read to understand Seung Sahn, maybe not so much Buddhism.
David Birt
I liked the opening discourse on the Zen circle. I have always been fascinated by koans. Must admit to getting fatigued though from being threatened with being hit 30 times in every interaction.
I read this after coming off the heels of "Zen and the Birds of Appetite" which was fantastic. Being a big Stephen Mitchell fan girl, I was pretty excited to pick up this book to get an idea about the Zen training SM had received under Seung Sahn. Obviously this was much more Buddhist than "Birds of Appetite" as that was written by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk. I was confused throughout this book, but that is kind of the point. I figure even practiced Buddhists might scratch their heads at som...more
Collection of talks and letters between Seung Sahn and student that are short and easy to read. He addresses a lot of questions that come up for students in practice.
This is the book that finally helped me get Zen Buddhism. It's like a series of tests, or a workbook. Amazing.
beautiful book. every little story and letter had something remarkable to teach in a very new and fresh way.
The book that finally made sense of Zen koans for me.
i like it so much, i got a tattoo of the cover
Cleared my mind
And then I will hit you.

I suppose my fixation on the hitting aspect of the book is more an indication of my attachment to it than anything else.

I'll re-read this book in the future for sure, as I think this book would benefit from multiple re-readings, but it's just not where I am right now. If I understand the whole 360 degree no mind thing correctly, I'm not sure Zen Buddhism is for me. I'd been reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh, but this is something quite different.
Joseph Nicolello
I've been dabbling in Buddhist texts all of my life. This a great forgotten book. I would give it five stars if I could find any faith more than mammalian reaction to death. For the enlightened Buddhist I am sure this is an instant five star. For me it is a great find, a class of its own, but nothing I can live by, for I don't really live by anything save fate and some nimble fingers, crossed by nocturne.
Meh, call me a Western schlump, but what's with all the hitting? Cannot get past that. Yoda, I dig. Corporal punishment as heightened awareness, not so much.
Reading this book is like getting hit by a speeding hybrid in the dark. You don't see it coming, don't hear it coming and in the end you're left plastered on the ground wondering what the hell just happened. I'm not sure if the Buddha is three pounds of flax or dried shit on a stick, but please don't hit me 30 times. KATZ!
Favorite quote: You can take your dharma and shove it up your ass!
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Katz ! 1 2 Mar 29, 2013 11:09AM  
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Stephen Mitchell was educated at Amherst College, the Sorbonne, and Yale University, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. He is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and to create versions that are definitive for our time. His many books include The Gospel According to Jesus, The Second Book of the Tao, two books of fi...more
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“Once Seung Sahn Soen-sa and a student of his attended a talk at a Zen center in California. The Dharma teacher spoke about Bodhidharma. After the talk, someone asked him "What's the difference between Bodhidharma's sitting in Sorim for nine years and your sitting here now?"

The Dharma teacher said, "About five thousand miles."
The questioner said, "Is that all?"
The Dharma teacher said, "Give or take a few miles."

Later on, Soen-sa asked his student, "What do you think of these answers?"
"Not bad, not good. But the dog runs after the bone."
"How would you answer?"
"I'd say, 'Why do you make a difference?' "

Soen-sa said, "Not bad. Now you ask me."
"What's the difference between Bodhidharma's sitting in Sorim for nine years and your sitting here now?"
"Don't you know?"
"I'm listening."
"Bodhidharma sat in Sorim for nine years. I am sitting here now."

The student smiled.”
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