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Essential Zenby Kazuaki Tanahashi and Tensho David Schneider
Synopses & Reviews
Can a book contain the essence of Zen? Tensho David Schneider reminds us that "Zen prides itself on being a teaching 'outside words and letters,'" and that therefore, "the essential Zen, in book form, would more likely consist of blank pages; a reader fills them in. Or not."
Yet the teachings of the ancient Chinese masters were recorded by their students, discussed, sometimes chanted, and given out as objects of meditation or koans. And, as Kazuaki Tanahashi points out, "However weird or enigmatic they are, or perhaps because of those very qualities, Zen stories have touched the hearts of people for over a thousand years."
In Essential Zen, Tanahashi and Schneider present many of the classic writings reagrded as "essential" in the East Asian Zen traditions along with a vibrant assortment of American Zen stories, poems, teachings that reflect the present flowering of Zen in the West. At turns spare, elegant, witty, deeply serious, and marvelously humorous, these are reflections on everything from practical meditation techniques and the tasks of daily life to death, the environment, and activism.
Including a history of Zen and its practics, this is a wonderfully lucid, lively, and comprehensive venture into the enduring, evolving, and essential heart of Zen.
"I am grateful to Kaz Tanahashi and David Schneider for the gift of this splendid collection, through whose pages the mind of Zen — permeable and particular, timeless and new-born, many and one — happily wanders. An ox eating flowers, flowers eating an ox — here, taste for yourself." Jane Hirshfield
"A lovely, lucid book. Spring-cleaned Zen — no dust here." Peter Coyote
"Like many Zen texts, this book begins with a mild apology for the irony of creating yet another collection of words for something that claims to exist outside the realm of words. Once this has been said, however, the compilers dig into the subject with great enthusiasm, creating an eclectic collection that draws from the most familiar classic texts to contemporary musings. How often, for instance, would you find Leonard Cohen juxtaposed with Dogen?....[W]ith its firm grounding in the classic texts, it brings Zen alive to the present moment. Highly recommended." Library Journal
About the Author
Kazuaki Tanahashi is an artist, translator, and writer whose books include Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen and Brush Mind.
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