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Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy
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Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  455 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
First published in 1975, Zen Training has become a classic of Zen literature. It was one of the first books to demystify religion without debunking it, to explain hitherto esoteric practices in lucid, everyday terms. It offers concrete guidelines for practicing zazen, seated meditation. Posture, breathing, the function of the abdominal muscles, muscle tone, and the mechan ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published 1975 by Weatherhill
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Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you can get past the irony of learning about ineffable Zen teachings from a book, this is a very good Zen book indeed. It's one of the few that tells you specifically what to expect and what to do in 'zazen' or sitting meditation, which is where it all begins. Sekida is refreshingly straightforward and clear, and he keeps the koans to a minimum as he describes how to sit, breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Any book that begins with a chapter on "one-minute zazen" gets high marks ...more
Jul 15, 2008 added it
Best zen book I've ever read: I learned to do zazen from this book a long time ago. While I now have had a couple of teachers, the approach to zazen that I learned from Sekida has served me well on this path. I'll probably wind up teaching zen myself someday, and this is the book that I will be giving to my students. All of the other philosophical and historical books about zen are certainly useful, so we all know where the tradition came from, but this is the only really clear book about how to ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I don't pretend to understand most of this book. It was a heavy read, at times plodding - and yet I'm glad to have had the chance to read it. Certain passages struck me:

Someday you will have this kind of experience. And one day, when you emerge from it, rising from your seat, stepping across the doorsill, looking at the stones and trees in the garden, hearing some trifling sound, raising a cup to your lips or passing your fingers over a bowl, suddenly, you will find heaven and earth come tumblin
Kevin Chen
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Can you cease your thoughts just by tensing your body? If you can't, this book teaches you how. You'll be surprised how meditation is more than simply sitting in a room and breathing. You'll learn how to listen to your body, while managing your mind and stress.
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's taken me months to read this book, which is highly unusual for me. But I enjoyed the reading and thinking on the reading. I do not practice zen but am occasionally driven to try and understand something about it, usually by reading books that leave me knowing less than I started out with. This book left me knowing less than I started out with as well, but I feel good about it, feel very zen and emptied by it. And I have learned so much about breath.

Also, this book has charts and tables and
Ben S
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is immediately useful and impactful and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn and practice zazen, the meditative discipline of Zen Buddhism.

There is zero mysticism in this book. It begins by describing the ideal postures and breathing techniques for zazen, making it possible to begin practicing right away. It goes on to map out our normal pattern of consciousness and how to quiet the mind, eventually emptying it completely. Emptying the mind is important part of Zen but it
Matthew robinson
My favourite book on zen so far. The author combines instruction for zazen, personal stories, passages from zen masters and much inspiration into a classic. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to look at the map of or push further along the path of zen
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about Zazen, which is essentially meditation rather than esoteric koans, which is usually associated with Zen.
I'm probably never going to finish this book, because I'm probably not going to progress to a point in Zen training where I'd need to read further chapters.

I learned the difference between Zen meditation vs meditation in Yoga. I haven't read other books on Zazen, so I do not know if all Zen masters put as much emphasis on abdominal breathing and pressure as Sekida does. The
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The book is absolutely amazing.

I always think when it comes to reading the philosophy or training of a person that it is important to ask, what the person has to gain by writing this. Katsuke Sekida's book was recommended from the book, The Meditator's Handbook by David Fontana. For the purpose of whether one would want to pursue Zen. David Fontana I found to be incredibly objective in his descriptions, and I trusted his words enough to read this book. It is truly objective as well, so much info
Evan Backer
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book for those looking to deepen or solidify their practice with zazen. It involves very specific and helpful physiological and psychological advice for furthering practice. This includes an explanation of the different kinds of samadhi, satori, thought processes and how to control them, sitting posture, breathing method, and much more -- all in incredible detail. Be warned -- this is not a beach read. The book can be very dry and difficult to read at times. Personally it ha ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've learned more about meditation reading the first few chapters of this book than attending to several intro to meditation workshops for the last 2 years. Though I doubt he teaches the traditional zazen (he recommends to close your eyes and execute a particular type of breathing), his techniques and explanations are of extraordinary practical value for the beginner zen practitioner.
(back after months after having read the book,I wouldn't recommend the author's breathing technique as your main
Emily Lomaka
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book if you want to get more out of your meditations.

As those who already practice know, any time you set aside to simply breathe deeply and center yourself is incredibly valuable, and should never be regarded as the "right way" or the "wrong way". However, if you feel as though your technique could use some improvement, or if you're having difficulty letting random thoughts move in and out of your consciousness, this book will benefit you greatly. Admittedly, it is a bit technical in natu
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I only read half of this, the first half, which describes the physical techniques of meditation. That is all I was looking for. This first half did allude to encountering "pure existence" when one is mature in their practice of meditation, but that read like new-age spirituality and it didn't make sense. I skipped the more detailed description of "pure existence" and other Zen benefits in the second half.

Also, the description of breathing could have been better, using more pics and words.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fascinating text, but it is highly technical and so makes for pretty dry reading in some chapters. That said, it does offer a very insightful analysis on the methodology of Zen training from an obvious expert. The book's more scientific perspective is a refreshing break from the unrelatable "far-outness" Zen is so often packaged in and which has caused zen to become all but a superficial ornament on so many New Age book shelves.
Ivy Samuel
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Other than the fact that it's like trying to read a book to learn to drive a car, this book is fantastic. It's one of the few books I've come across that deals with the nitty gritty of zazen, or sitting meditation. The book details specifics of how to sit, how to place your hands, what to do with your shoulders, how to breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Highly recommended for anyone who needs a good teacher to spell out the basics.
Audrey Custer
Jun 18, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: buddhism
Zen meditation techniques, Zen philosophy, the life and teachings of Buddha, basic Buddhist terminology, the history of Buddhism...among other things. A great read for anyone seriously interested in Zen - be warned, it does tend to be a bit dry at times, but the author added enough examples (to aid in the reader relating to the topic) to keep me interested and turning the pages.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The thing I really love about this book is that there is no navel-gazing here. This is strictly a primer on the physiological changes in the body when zen is practiced. The clear, concise yet detailed explanations make it uncomplicated and practical. Suzuki explains the why and how of zen meditation and thereby demystifies enlightenment.
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent Zen meditation handbook for western practicioners! The author, having practised zazen for over 60 years, uses concepts found in western science (psychology, philosophy, neuroscience) to "translate" Zen teachings. Nice!
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very clear introduction to a kind of meditation called zazen. The author seems very serious at first, but rereadings make him appear more playful. He is tricky, which makes him a good teacher. He always wants the reader to find out for him or herself.
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ashvin
This is the book that helped me to understand how the body breathes--it then informed my pilates and yoga practice. It also really inspired me and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to read a solid book on Zen.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Some great guidance on Zazen, albeit kind of weird (it's Rinzai, Rinzai Zen is kind of...overly dogmatic, IMO.) Some strong chapters in the end, and some ridiculous convoluted ones in between. It has the feeling of a Christian Bible-proving, in parts. Not terribly suggested.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in zen
Shelves: lifewaza
This was a very nice technical look at Zen training. Not so much a philosophical book as a manual, it goes into detail on the topics of zazen, breathing, kensho, and the different phases of zen training. A very interesting read.
Jul 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2011
Easily readable, demystifies the practice of meditation. Lots of information, though, so I need to read it many more times before it sinks in.
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
An excellent, practical guide to zazen that has enriched my practice.
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very good.
Dana Garrett
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
An excellent introduction to Zen practice and teaching. No pablum here. It's an introduction with ample foretastes of depth.
Aygul A.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
"When you reach there, there isn't any there, there."
Greg Hills
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very structured approach to understanding patterns of breath and thought.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
read Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau instead. although i did like think the section on posture and the physics of it all, was great.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
great resource - revist often
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“To cast off the delusive way of ordinary consciousness while sitting on a cushion in a quiet room is only the beginning. The student must learn to live in the ordinary world, while yet retaining the quality of his experience of absolute samadhi.” 1 likes
“While you are conscious of being a Buddha, you are not truly a Buddha, because you are ensnared by the idea. You are not empty.” 1 likes
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