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Zen Buddhism, A History: India & China (Volume 1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  62 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Unparalleled in scope and detail, this classic history of Zen covers all important ideas and developments in the tradition from its beginnings in India through the Sung period in China.
Paperback, 440 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by World Wisdom (first published 1988)
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Jesse Morrow
Aug 22, 2016 Jesse Morrow rated it really liked it
Originally published in German in 1959, this book has become the classic introduction into the study of Zen history.

The first few chapters are arduous and dense as it explains the foundations of Vedic based dhyana as it fused with Chinese Buddhism and Taoism to create a new movement - Chan (in Japanese: "zen").

However, the pace picks up as it gets to the Six Patriarch, Hui-Neng. Dumoulin takes us through the dynamic rise of Zen in the T'ang dynasty and it's eventual stagnation into orthodoxy i
Jun 08, 2012 Rishu rated it it was amazing
Not just an in-depth study of roots of Zen in Indian and Chinese Buddhist philosophy, but also an exploration into the geo-political environment encircling Zen development, Dumoulin has done an extraordinary job of piecing together the key historical figures and documents of Zen accurately. Since he wrote this book, there have been key scholarly developments in the field of Zen studies, but his work is by no means outdated. In fact, his review and understanding of the Sixth Patriarch and his suc ...more
May 21, 2009 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Committing the history of Zen Buddhism into book form is no mean task. Dumoulin's treatment treads the line between fact-book and editorial, between a history book and a philosophy book, and he walks that line with grace. He admits in this book that it is impossible to give a true history of Zen without some treatment of its philosophical and religious contexts, and indeed he delves quite well into many of the origins and 'tenets' of Zen throughout the past. However, he does well to avoid over-m ...more
Nov 06, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing
Heinrich Dumoulin's 2 volume set provides an excellent overview of the history of the development of Zen Buddhism as it was born in India, moved to the China and then to Japan up to modern times and its now global presence.

while certainly not a simple pick-up-and-read book it is a crucial book for anyone seriously interested in the study of Zen Buddhism as no other work provides such great detail in one place.
Oct 15, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I only read parts as I was preparing to write a paper, but what I read was interesting, insightful, and useful.
Susan Taylor
Jul 25, 2012 Susan Taylor rated it really liked it
Dense read but there's nothing like a challenge in unearthing the history of buddhism.
Hunter Marston
Dec 08, 2009 Hunter Marston rated it really liked it
A very rigorous and very thorough history of Zen, often illuminating the back story unnoticed by most scholars
Jessica Zu
Aug 04, 2011 Jessica Zu rated it really liked it
This is a pretty old book, so its image of Chan is very traditional, but it is a good one to start with if you are interested in Chan history.
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