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Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokaiby Shunryu Suzuki
Synopses & Reviews
"An opportunity to peer even more deeply into Suzuki Roshi's Zen mind and ponder the true meaning and value of recognizing the non-dual in our ordinary lives. The repartee with his students is by itself a great and unexpected gift, reviving that charming voice and warm wisdom we grew to know and love so well through Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and coauthor of Everyday Blessings
"Suzuki Roshi's gentle wisdom shines through these intimate talks on the Sandokai. I am grateful to Mel Weitsman and Michael Wenger for their labor of love."—Robert Aitken, author of Taking the Path of Zen and Original Dwelling Place
"Buddhists and lovers of Buddhism who have read and reread Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind over the years, as well as those who are just discovering the wisdom of this wonderful, profound teacher for the first time, will welcome this new book of lectures on Zen training as a gift we did not expect to receive. Branching Streams should be read slowly and savored."—Rita M. Gross, author of Buddhism After Patriarchy
"Through the poetry of knowing and doing, Shunryu Suzuki points out a path of practical wisdom for Americans today, in a voice so close at hand it can touch their inner experience of the interdependence of existence, open their ears to hear its harmony of difference and sameness, and awaken their willingness to be true to its mystery."—Stephen Tipton, co-author of Habits of the Heart
"A wonderful manifestation of Suzuki Roshi's fresh insights and teachings--small, pithy, wild nuts delicious to anyone who chooses to taste them."—Peter Matthiessen "Muryo Roshi," author of Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can)
The "Sandokai", a poem by the 8th-century Zen master Sekito Kisen, is the subject of this collection of lectures. Included with the lectures are student questions and Suzuki Roshi's answers, along with a meditation instruction.
When Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was published in 1972, it was enthusiastically embraced by Westerners eager for spiritual insight and knowledge of Zen. The book became the most successful treatise on Buddhism in English, selling more than one million copies to date. Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness is the first follow-up volume to Suzuki Roshi's important work. Like Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, it is a collection of lectures that reveal the insight, humor, and intimacy with Zen that made Suzuki Roshi so influential as a teacher.
The Sandokai—a poem by the eighth-century Zen master Sekito Kisen (Ch. Shitou Xiqian)—is the subject of these lectures. Given in 1970 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the lectures are an example of a Zen teacher in his prime elucidating a venerated, ancient, and difficult work to his Western students. The poem addresses the question of how the oneness of things and the multiplicity of things coexist (or, as Suzuki Roshi expresses it, "things-as-it-is"). Included with the lectures are his students' questions and his direct answers to them, along with a meditation instruction. Suzuki Roshi's teachings are valuable not only for those with a general interest in Buddhism but also for students of Zen practice wanting an example of how a modern master in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition understands this core text today.
About the Author
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi came to the United States in 1959, leaving his temple in Yaizu, Japan, to serve as priest for the Japanese American congregation at Sokoji Temple in San Francisco. In 1967 he and his students created the first Zen Buddhist monastery in America at Tassajara in the coastal mountains south of San Francisco. Suzuki Roshi died in 1971 at age 67, a year and a half after delivering his teaching on the Sandokai. He may have had a premonition of his coming death when he said that it was common for Zen teachers in the Soto tradition to lecture on the Sandokai near the end of life.
Mel Weitsman is the former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center and current abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. Michael Wenger is Dean of Buddhist Studies at the San Francisco Zen Center.
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