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Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  698 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Thich Nhat Hanh brings his warmth and clarity to this unique explication of Zen Buddhism. Beginning with a discussion of daily life in a Zen monastery, Nhat Hanh illustrates the character of Zen as practiced in Vietnam, and gives the reader clear explanations of the central elements of Zen practice and philosophy. Thorough attention is given to concepts such as Awareness a ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Harmony (first published 1974)
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Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who have read other books by Thich Nhat Hanh first.
If you have not yet, I might recommend reading some of Thich Nhat Hanh's other works before getting to this one. If you're looking for one to start with, The Miracle of Mindfulness is perfect: very practical no matter your own traditions and great to return to again and again. After several years of learning from some of his other books and enjoying my own practice of mindfulness, I was ready to read this one which deals more about the history of Zen practice. It is unlike other books I have rea ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
A great look at the foundations of Zen, its basic practices, and its purpose. Hanh offers a very easily read piece that even Westerners with no Buddhist understanding can follow. T

hich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen master, poet, and spokesman for the Vietnamese Buddhist peace movement. In 1967 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. He is the author of several books, including Peace is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and Being Peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh brings his
Eric Piotrowski
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thich Nhat Hanh is an engaging writer with a clear desire to make zen accessible to a lay audience. He does a good job here of blending eastern concepts with western sensibilities, giving us a clear insight into the foundations of zen.

My only complaint is the second half of Section V, "Footprints of Emptiness", which goes deep into murky territory of esoteric delineations such that I felt not only lost, but bored. An excerpt: "In reality vikalpa, paratantra, and nispanna are only states of knowl
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in zen
for the most part i enjoyed this book, and it helped a lot to explain some concepts i have read about in other books but was never really clear on. for example, the meaning of all those koans, or at least why i don't get them, and the whole no mind non-being thing. there were a few chapters on the history of the various schools of buddhism and the beginnings of zen that i found somewhat hard to follow, but overall it was definitely worth the time to read.
it was also brutally honest about the fac
Zhen "Cristal" Wang
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My first book on Zen Buddhism. It was an eye-opening experience. The book is so beautifully written, and Thich Nhat Hanh is a brilliant scholar who is able to explain extremely complex concepts and ideologies in simple terms using metaphors and real-life examples. His spirituality and compassion showed vividly in the book, and he described the beauty of Zen Buddhism so perfectly with his moving words. As a world traveled scholar, he took on the challenge of introducing Zen Buddhism, a profound a ...more
Mark R.
Going into this book, I had little knowledge of Zen beliefs. I've read a bit here and there on eastern religions, Krishna and basic Buddhist teachings, but am by no means an expert.

"Zen Keys" is a good, brief read that provides answers for those curious to know what Zen is all about.

The book ends with a series of forty short meditations. Reading through these was somewhat tedious, but overall, the book does what it sets out to do, in a very read-able manner.
Igor Girsanov
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
The compassionate and easygoing style of Thay is retained in this book, which gives a good introduction to Zen in general and Vietnamese Zen in particular. However, this book is definitely not for the beginner. He gets pretty good into concepts about Buddhism/Zen that a beginner may not be comfortable with. Although, if one is willing to persist, then can gain many useful things out of this book.
Really clear and straight forward writing to help you understand these seemingly complex yet deceptively simple mindsets and mentalities of Zen Buddhists. goes fairly deep into the history, complete with long-hard-to-pronounce names. Very inyteresting read though, really got my brain thinking at moments.
s.m. k.
I read this shortly after reading "What the Buddha Taught" by Dr. Rahula and was underwhelmed. It's been quite a while since I've read it so will concede that this may be an unfair review. That said, the book I continue to return to is Dr. Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught."
Michael Mangos
May 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
I liked this book, but it was substantially harder to get through than some of his other work. It just wasn't as enjoyable to read as other books on Buddhism I've read. Overall, though, I really like Thich Nhat Hanh's approach to Buddhism and his zen teachings.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is practical and wonderful introduction and overview into the practice and philosophy of Zen Buddhism. It provides tangible ways to introduce and practice Zen in one's life--a great starter book for the novice Eastern thinker.
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
It does its best to be clear about zen and does suceed in some respects on conveying the history of the practise, but to be honest, it wasn't really worth the read. Some of the practises are still confusing, and with life and time so short, reading time should be devoted to better or clearer books.
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book by Thich Nhat Hanh but not as much as his others. Some of the chapters I found a little difficult to digest, though I thoroughly enjoyed the koans in the last chapter. I borrowed this book from the library, but would consider purchasing it just to have access to the koans.
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
I love Thich Nhat Hanh and found much wisdom in this book, in which Thich Nhat Hanh tells about the history and practice of Zen in all its forms. To be honest, I got a bit bored with some of the historical information, but I still felt that I got a lot from this book.
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: buddhism
Pretty heady stuff. This book was difficult at times... the philosophy and historical development of Zen is explored relatively in depth considering how small the book is. However, it was well worth the challenge.
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Any book about Zen Practice is a contradiction.
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great book. But there were few paragraphs that used too much Sanskrit, Pali and Vietnamese words that were hard to understand. Great entry for a newbie in Zen.
Con Robinson
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great intro to Zen. I enjoyed this author's writing style.
 Gloria Maria  Vazquez
My first read on Zen. What I gleaned from this read --- mindfulness. To live fully in the present.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most excellent.
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
May 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
B- Not his best, but interesting the same.
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Very easy to read and understand. Not as deep as I expected it to be.
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Единственное, что я поняла из этой книги, это то, что практиковать дзен можно, а вот пытаться понять и познать - гиблое, бессмысленное дело.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
verging on philosophy, piecharts of "reality" = deep
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Feb 10, 2009
Head Ov Metal
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Jul 21, 2010
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Feb 28, 2008
Daitoku (michael)
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Nov 20, 2013
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Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lives in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary ...more
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