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The Practice of Zen
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The Practice of Zen by Garma C.C.Chang

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Steve Goble Hello. I just picked up The Practice of Zen by C.C. Chang. I don't know if others here have read it, or plan to, but I thought I would set up a discussion here so anyone interested can share thoughts.

Moderators, if there is a sub- section of this forum I should have used, feel free to move this thread, or delete it and make me start overin the right spot. Thanks.

-- Steve

message 2: by Steve (last edited Dec 04, 2012 10:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Steve Goble The first chapter looks at koans. I am more into meditation than I am into koans, but I enjoyed the explanation of what koans do -- although explaining koans does sort of miss the point, I think. The chapter also looks at the purposes behind some of the more bizarre-seeming behaviors and statements of zen masters. Again, very interesting, but seemingly missing the point of the teaching method in the first place. I am enjoying the book, though, and I think this approach might be very helpful to many people, especially in the West.

Steve Goble After a confusing discussion of existence and void, as all such discussions tend to be, Chang offers some background on zen monastic culture and teaching that sheds useful light on all those "instant enlightenment" stories. This part of the book, especially, might be useful to anyone who reads such stories and wonders what the heck is going on.

Steve Goble The next section is a good discussion of he differences between Soto zen, which focuses primarily on meditation, and Rinzai zen, which relies heavily on koans. I am more of a Soto person, but I feel like I understand the role of koans better after reading this. This is a very useful segment of the book.

Up next is a selection of short bios and discourses from four zen masters, illustrating their own practices. I am just getting into it -- Chang starts with Hsu Yun -- but so far this looks to be very helpful.

Steve Goble The bios and discourses from zen masters are interesting and instructive, and demonstrate a variety of experiences. While some of the stories are difficult to swallow, there is much to learn from. The following sections, on types of meditation, enlightenment, the puzzling nature of zen, etc., I found to be quite direct and useful. Overall, this is a pretty good book for someone early in their exploration of zen, especially if that person lacks access to a good teacher. Despite the now-and-then lapses into "zen speak," this book is mostly fairly direct.

message 6: by Craig (new) - added it

Craig | 10 comments I have an old dog eared copy of Chang's "The Buddhist Teaching of Totality" that I've read and reread over the years (it's about Hua Yen, not Zen.) I never knew about this book. Thanks for the tip!

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