Viv JM's Reviews > Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui

Swampland Flowers by J.C. Cleary
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Oct 19, 2016

bookshelves: own, author-male, buddhism, in-translation, non-fiction, read-in-2016, rt-challenge-oct-16
Read from October 08 to 19, 2016

Swampland Flowers begins with a short introduction to the life and lineage of Zen Master Ta Hui, followed by a brief explanation of the key tenets of Buddhism. The rest of the book comprises letters and lectures of 12th century Chinese Buddhist master, Ta Hui. These range from a paragraph to several pages in length and are largely written to lay members of the Buddhist community, rather than monks.

Despite having some knowledge of Buddhism and several years experience of meditation practice, I found these letters quite difficult to understand. From what I did understand, there is a lot of emphasis on not clinging, including not clinging to the actual practice of meditation and study of the Sutras. My favourite letter in the collection was written to a man whose young son is gravely ill. Master Ta Hui says:

If you want to think, then think; if you want to cry, then cry. Just keep on crying and thinking. When you can arouse yourself to the point where the habit energy of love and affection within the Storehouse Consciousness is exhausted, then naturally it's like water being returned to water, giving you back your original being, without affliction, without thoughts, without sorrow and joy.

I feel that, to get the most from this collection, it would be better read under the guidance of an experienced Zen teacher or at least as part of a discussion group. For that reason, I am not giving it a rating as that seems unjust given my limited understanding.
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Reading Progress

10/08/2016 marked as: to-read
10/08/2016 marked as: currently-reading
10/11/2016 page 30
24.0% "...always let go and make your heart empty and open. When things come up, then deal with them according to the occasion. Be like the stillness of water, like the clarity of a mirror, (so that) whether good or bad, beautiful or ugly approach, you don't make the slightest move to avoid them. (Then) you will truly know that the mindless world of spontaneity is inconceivable."
10/12/2016 page 40
32.0% "this is heavy going..." 2 comments
10/18/2016 page 103
82.0% "When the last day of your life arrives, neither love nor power nor riches nor innate spirit nor official position nor wealth and rank will be of any use."
10/19/2016 marked as: read
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