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Song of Mind: Wisdom from the Zen Classic Xin Mingby Sheng Yen
Synopses & Reviews
"No words can explain enlightenment," says the seventh-century Zen classic Xin Ming, or "Song of Mind," yet, paradoxically, this poem is a masterpiece of expressing the inexpressible. In his commentary on it, Chan Master Sheng Yen takes a practical approach, opening up the language of the Xin Ming to show students how to approach meditation, how to deal with problems that arise in their spiritual practice, and how to accomplish the imperative task of integrating this practice into every aspect of one's life. "True understanding comes only with direct experience," according to Master Sheng Yen. "These lectures, the Buddhist sutras, songs, poems, and commentaries are useful only insofar as they encourage you to practice and incorporate the Dharma [teachings] into your daily life."
The book takes the form of a week-long retreat with Master Sheng Yen, with each chapter in the form of an evening talk given on a particular section of the "Song of Mind" text—giving this book a far more intimate and accessible feel than most commentaries on Zen texts and creating a feeling of being right there with the master as he brings the text to life.
"This book combines commentary on a seventh-century classic poem from Chinese Zen (Chan) Buddhism with dharma, or teaching, talks from retreats. The format works: it gives focus to the talks while also making textual commentary livelier and very 21st-century in application. Chinese Zen is not as well known in America as the Japanese forms, so the book is fresh in that respect. Sheng Yen is not as poetic as some Zen masters, such as Shunryu Suzuki and others in his lineage, but the Chan master has compelling command of the challenging mental paradoxes at the heart of Zen. This down-to-earth book is not for beginners, but it is eminently practical because of its derivation from retreat talks. The master describes many problems common to sitting meditation — chronic wandering thoughts, pains in the legs and pseudo-enlightenment states — and his responses to them essentially boil down to, unsurprisingly, practice, practice, practice. He also helpfully throws cold water on the pretentiousness of those who believe that Buddhism is an excuse for bizarre behavior. This practice-oriented book is like a good 'incense board' — the stick used on students who request it during sitting meditation to prod them to greater effort. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Master Sheng Yen is the best-known Chan (Chinese Zen) master in America, having taught in the U.S. since 1976. His Dharma Drum Buddhist Association has twenty-one centers throughout North America, as well as dozens of others throughout the world. He has co-led retreats with the Dalai Lama and is the author of numerous books.
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