Thomas Yuhō Kirchner was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1949. He went to Japan in 1969 to attend Waseda University in Tokyo for a year, after which he remained in Japan to study Buddhism. He spent three years training under Yamada Mumon as a lay monk at Shofuku-ji before receiving ordination in 1974. Following ordination he practiced under Minato Sodo Roshi at Kencho-ji in Kamakura and Kennin-ji in Kyoto. Following graduate studies in Buddhism at Otani University he worked at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya and subsequently at the Hanazono University International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism. He presently lives at Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Among his publications are the Record of Linji, Dialogues in a Dream, and Entangling Vines.
ENTANGLING VINES (PAPERBACK)
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The most contemporary of the the classic koan collections—representing centuries of practical refinement by Zen masters working with their students.
Entangling Vines is a translation of the Shumon Kattoshu, the only major koan text to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Most of the central koans of the contemporary Rinzai koan curriculum are contained in this work. Indeed, Kajitani Sonin (1914–1995)—former chief abbot of Shokoku-ji and author of an annotated, modern-Japanese translation of the Kattoshu—commented that “herein are compiled the basic Dharma materials of the koan system.”
A distinctive feature of Entangling Vines is that, unlike the Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Record, it presents the koans “bare,” with no introductions, commentaries, or verses. The straightforward structure of its presentation lends the koans added force and immediacy, emphasizing the Great Matter, the essential point to be interrogated, while providing ample material for the rigors of examining and refining Zen experience.
Containing 272 cases and extensive annotation, the collection is not only indispensable for serious koan training but also forms an excellent introduction to Buddhist philosophy.
- 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614296157
The concept of nonduality lies at the very heart of Mahayana Buddhism. In the West, it’s usually associated with various kinds of absolute idealism in the West, or mystical traditions in the East—and as a result, many modern philosophers are poorly informed on the topic. Increasingly, however, nonduality is finding its way into Western philosophical debates. In this “scholarly but leisurely and very readable” (Spectrum Review) analysis of the philosophies of nondualism of (Hindu) Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism, renowned thinker David R. Loy extracts what he calls “a core doctrine” of nonduality. Loy clarifies this easily misunderstood topic with thorough, subtle, and understandable analysis.
Each of us has an enormous capacity for love—a deep well of attention and care that we can offer to ourselves and others. With guidance that is both simple and wholly transformative, Koshin Paley Ellison, Zen teacher and psychotherapist, shows us how to uncover it: pay attention, be of service, and be with others.
With this inspiring and down-to-earth book, drawn from the Zen precepts and illustrated with anecdotes from Koshin’s own life and practice, you’ll learn how to
- explore and investigate with your own core values,
- identify the mental habits that could be unconsciously hurting yourself and others, and
- overcome isolation.
Each chapter closes with a contemplation to help integrate the teachings into your life.
This book is about getting back in touch with your values, so you can live energetically, authentically, and lovingly. This an invitation to close the gaps we create between ourselves and others—to wake up to ourselves and the world around us.
It’s time to live wholeheartedly.
Buddhism of the Heart
Jeff Wilson started his walk on the Buddha’s path as a Zen practitioner—taking up a tradition of vigorous self-effort, intensive meditation, and meticulous attention to rectitude in every action. But in Jeff’s case, rather than freeing him from his suffering, he found those Zen practices made him nothing short of insufferable. And so he turned to Shin Buddhism—a path that is easily the most popular in Zen’s native land of Japan but is largely unknown in the West.
Shin emphasizes an “entrusting heart,” a heart that is able to receive with gratitude every moment of our mistake-filled and busy lives. Moreover, through walking the Shin path, Jeff comes see that each of us (himself especially included) are truly “foolish beings,” people so filled with endlessly arising “blind passions” and ingrained habits that we so easily cause harm even with our best intentions. And even so, Shin holds out the tantalizing possibility that, by truly entrusting our foolish selves to the compassionate universe, we can learn to see how this foolish life, just as it is, is nonetheless also a life of grace.
Buddhism of the Heart is a wide-ranging book of essays and open-hearted stories, reflections that run the gamut from intensely personal to broadly philosophical, introducing the reader to a remarkable religious tradition of compassionate acceptance.
The Book of Mu
The word “mu” is one ancient Zen teacher’s response to the earnest question of whether even a dog has “buddha nature”. Discovering for ourselves the meaning of the master’s response is the urgent work of each of us who yearns to be free and at peace. “Practicing Mu” is synonymous with practicing Zen, “sitting with Mu” is an apt description for all Zen meditation, and it is said that all the thousands and thousands of koans in the Zen tradition are just further elaborations of Mu.
This watershed volume brings together over forty teachers, ancient and modern masters from across centuries and schools, to illuminate and clarify the essential matter: the question of how to be most truly ourselves.
Includes writings from: Dogen • Hakuin • Dahui • Thich Thien-An Zenkei Shibayama • Seung Sahn • Taizan Maezumi • Sheng Yen Philip Kapleau • Robert Aitken • Jan Chozen Bays • Shodo Harada Grace Schireson • John Daido Loori • John Tarrant Barry Magid • Joan Sutherland … and many more!
From October 16, 1973, to August 17, 1974, Tim Testu walked all the way from San Francisco to Seattle, bowing his head to the ground every three steps. And that’s not even the best part of his story.
Tim Testu was one of the very first Americans to take ordination in Chinese Zen Buddhism. His path—from getting kicked out of school to joyriding in stolen boats in the Navy to squatting in an anarchist commune to wholehearted spiritual engagement in a strict Buddhist monastery—is equal parts rollicking adventure and profound spiritual memoir.
Touching Ground is simultaneously larger than life and entirely relatable; even as Tim finds his spiritual home with his teacher, the legendary Chan master Hsuan Hua, he nonetheless continues to struggle to overcome his addictions and his very human shortcomings.
Tim never did anything halfway, including both drinking and striving for liberation. He died of leukemia in 1998 after packing ten lifetimes into fifty-two years.
This landmark work is simultaneously a manifesto, a blueprint, a call to action, and a deep comfort for troubling times. David R. Loy masterfully lays out the principles and perspectives of Ecodharma—the Buddhist response to our ecological predicament, a new term for a new development of the Buddhist tradition.
This book emphasizes the three aspects of Ecodharma:
- practicing in the natural world,
- exploring the ecological implications of Buddhist teachings,
- and embodying that understanding in the eco-activism that is needed today.
Offering a compelling framework and practical spiritual resources, Loy outlines the Ecosattva Path, a path of liberation and salvation for all beings and the world itself.
Prepare to be inspired, motivated, and encouraged.
A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace
The message of the Tang-dynasty Zen text in this volume seems simple: to gain enlightenment, stop thinking there is something you need to practice. For the Chinese master Huangbo Xiyun (d. 850), the mind is enlightenment itself if we can only let go of our normal way of thinking.
The celebrated translation of this work by John Blofeld, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, introduced countless readers to Zen over the last sixty years. Huangbo’s work is also a favorite of contemporary Zen (Korean: Seon) Master Subul, who has revolutionized the strict monastic practice of koans and adapted it for lay meditators in Korea and around the world to make swift progress in intense but informal retreats. Devoting themselves to enigmatic questions with their whole bodies, retreatants are frustrated in their search for answers and arrive thereby at a breakthrough experience of their own buddha nature.
A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace is a bracing call for the practitioner to let go and thinking and unlock the buddha within.
Before Buddha Was Buddha
In the lifetimes before he was Siddhartha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha was many things: a gardener, a robber, a monkey—and even an ogre.
Yet even then, amid struggles and shortcomings, he was also just like us—as we see in this enchanting book from Buddhist teacher and master storyteller Rafe Martin. Martin starts with brisk retellings of jatakas—the ancient stories the Buddha’s past lives—then uses them to reveal what it means to be truly human.
Unfathomable Depths presents a concise treatment of Sōtō theory and practice, while delivering approachableadvice from Sekkei Harada, one of Zen’s most esteemed teachers. Rooting himself in Tong’an Changcha’s classical and enigmatic poem, “Ten Verses of Unfathomable Depth,” Harada intimately speaks to the world of Zen today, answering some of our most pressing questions:
- What is the true nature and function of Dharma transmission
- How do I appropriately practice with koans?
- How do I understand the “just sitting” of Sōtō Zen?
Heaven and Earth are Flowers
2011 Nautilus Book Award — Silver Medal in Religion & Spirituality — Eastern Traditions
In this lovely meditation on ikebana—the Japanese art of flower arranging—Joan Stamm shows us how her twin paths of Buddhist practice and artistic endeavor converge and indeed become thoroughly intertwined.
Stamm’s lush, elegant voice weaves childhood memories of her mother’s joy at a just-bloomed morning glory with meditations on the symbolic importance of bamboo, of pine, of the lily. She takes us with her on her travels to Japan as she learns the essential principles of ikebana, and lets us join her as she teaches flower arranging to women in a nursing home who, though they won’t recall tomorrow the rules of arrangement or even the flowers’ names, nonetheless partake in the joy and love that celebrates all living things, however briefly they endure. And, when Joan shows us the natural symmetry of a blossom, we find that we too have regained our balance.
Includes 16 full-color photographs of the author’s original ikebana.
Making Zen Your Own
In this book, Janet Jiryu Abels traces the life stories of twelve Chinese Zen masters who, together, shaped what was to become known as Zen’s Golden Age. She presents their biographies, describes their teachings, and shows how their lives and teachings can inspire those who practice Zen today. The book is a presentation of ancient Zen insight vividly relevant for the twenty-first century, addressing both the needs of both new and longtime Zen practitioners. Its singular distinction is in bringing Zen history, ancestral teachings, and present-day application of those teachings into one work.
Although the book is based on scholarly sources and historical records, Abels stresses the humanity of these Zen ancestors, showing that they were not formed from a generic mold but were individuals with quirks, senses of humor, heartfelt enlightenment experiences, varied ways of living, and unique ways of expressing Zen. She tells their stories in a lively, accessible manner, shedding light on their paradoxical teachings with clarity and simplicity. She also shows that they all faced the same challenges that Zen practitioners face today.
Interwoven among the stories and teachings are Abels’ own insights into the dharma of Zen, as well as practical applications and encouragements that readers can bring to their individual practice of the Way. These insights are based on her more than ten years as a Zen teacher. She is the founder and co-resident teacher of Still Mind Zendo in New York City.
Entangling Vines, a translation of the Shumon kattoshu, is one of the few major koan texts to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Indeed, Kajitani Sonin (1914–95), former chief abbot of Shokoku-ji and author of an annotated, modern-Japanese translation of the Kattoshu, commented that “herein are compiled the basic Dharma materials of the koan system.” Most of the central koans of the contemporary Rinzai koan curriculum are contained in this work.
A distinctive feature of Entangling Vines is that, unlike The Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Record, it presents the koans “bare,” with no introductions, commentaries, or verses. Its straightforward structure lends the koans added force and immediacy, emphasizing the Great Matter, the essential point to be interrogated, and providing ample material for the rigors of examining and refining Zen experience.
Containing 272 cases and extensive note material, the collection is indispensable for serious koan training and will also be of interest for anyone drawn to Zen literature. The present translation had its origins in the discussions between three forward-looking modern Japanese Zen masters and Thomas Kirchner, an experienced Zen monk from America. And Kirchner’s careful annotation of each koan makes this a brilliant introduction to Buddhist philosophy.
Featuring an introduction by Ueda Shizuteru.
Thunderous Silence throws light on the Heart Sutra—a pithy encapsulation of the essence of Perfection of Wisdom literature—using stop-by-step analysis and an easy, conversational voice. Dosung Yoo examines the sutra phrase by phrase, using rich explanations and metaphors drawn from Korean folklore, quantum physics, Charles Dickens, and everything in between to clarify subtle concepts for the reader. This book invites us to examine the fundamentals of Buddhism—the Four Noble Truths, emptiness, enlightenment—through the prism of the Heart Sutra. Both those new to Buddhism and longtime practitioners looking to revisit a core text from a fresh perspective will find this work appealing.
The Spiritual Legacy of Shaolin Temple
Combining the genius of Chan (Zen) Buddhism and Daoism with rigorous physical and martial discipline and breathing exercises, the training that originated at China’s famous Shaolin Temple was a unique elixir that would change the way the world perceived mind and body. Here, Andy James exposes the hitherto unrecognized spiritual legacy of Shaolin Temple, which has provided modernity with comprehensive, time-tested techniques in martial arts, health maintenance, energetic healing and spiritual transformation.
In addition to Buddhism and Daoism, James explores Qigong (Chi Kung) and the “internal” systems of martial arts such as Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan). While many books have traced Chan’s story into Japan, James remains in China to explain how the unique spiritual, martial and energetic traditions of the Shaolin Temple continued to interact and evolve in dynamic relation to culture, society, and the individual. This engaging and very personal book will appeal to martial arts enthusiasts, healing arts professionals, and anyone interested in the mind-body connection.
This Truth Never Fails
This Truth Never Fails is a playful yet well-grounded narrative of a year in the life of an unusual Zen master. Far from the silent and detached stereotype of Zen teachers, Rynick writes with disarming humor, offering both the struggles and the joys of ordinary life as opportunities for insight. Anyone looking for inspiration to bring a simple spiritual awareness into their daily lives, and also those interested in finding ways to more deeply integrate faith (in any tradition) with practice will find this book reassuring and encouraging.
This book appeals to the broad “mindfulness” and “general spirituality” audiences that transcend any one formal tradition. Leaning toward Anne Lamott’s humor, universal spirituality, and Mary Oliver’s love of the natural world, Rynick’s writing bypasses Zen theory and doctrine. Simple, clear prose illustrates, vividly, an insightful and tender appreciation of ordinary life as the Way itself.
Includes a brief “study guide for further inquiry” offering opportunities for personal reflection and exploration on themes touched on in the book.
Joyously Through the Days
Drawing inspiration from such diverse sources as Khalil Gibran, Virginia Woolf, and Frank Sinatra, as well as the Bible and the great Zen masters of old, this book offers a path to rich and lasting happiness achieved through what Huston Smith calls “goal-attaining patience.” In Joyously Through the Days, Les Kaye explores life’s every day complexities and instructs us in the Zen way through our human foibles. Through awareness, patience, and generosity, Kaye argues, we can respond with creative calm to the uncertain conditions of modern life.
Introduction to the Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sutra—one of the most popular Buddhist classics—is here accessibly introduced by one of its most eminent scholars.
“Soon after entering university in December of 1943, I was sent to the front as a student soldier. I wondered if I were allowed to bring but a single book on the trip, possibly to my death, which would I want to bring. It was the Lotus Sutra.”
—from the author’s Preface
Having developed a lifelong appreciation of the Lotus Sutra—even carrying a dog-eared copy with him through service in World War II—Yoshiro Tamura sought to author an introduction to this beloved work of Buddhist literature. Tamura wanted it to be different than other basic explorations of the text; his introduction would be plain-spoken, relevant and sensitive to modern concerns, and well-informed by contemporary scholarship. He succeeded marvelously with Introduction to the Lotus Sutra, which Gene Reeves—Tamura’s student and translator of the popular English edition of The Lotus Sutra—translates and introduces in English for the first time here. Tackling issues of authenticity in the so-called “words of Buddha,” the influence of culture and history on the development of the Lotus Sutra, and the sutra’s role in Japanese life, Introduction to the Lotus Sutra grounds this ancient work of literature in the real, workaday world, revealing its continued appeal across the ages.
The Promise of Amida Buddha
The Promise of Amida Buddha is the first complete English translation of a seminal collection of writings by the Japanese Pure Land school’s founder, Honen-shonin (1133-1212). The so-called Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku) collects his surviving short writings composed in Japanese, including letters of exhortation and public pronouncements. The vital writings provide a window into Honen’s life and the turbulent era in which he lived and taught.
Honen-shonin, who lived in Japan in the twelfth century, saw that the complexity of traditional Buddhist practices made them inaccessible to people outside the monastic elite. Drawing on the Chinese Pure Land tradition, he re-imagined Pure Land practice for Japan and ushered in a new and dynamic practice that continues in the present day. In our degenerate age, says Honen, we cannot hope to reach enlightenment via the practices employed by the Buddhist masters of old. For us there is only one avenue to liberation—rebirth in the Pure Land of Amida, from whence our progress is irreversible and our ultimate release assured. The Pure Land is a heavenly destination made manifest through the pure vow of Amida to save all beings, and we secure passage to this land in our next life through pure faith in Amida at the very moment of death. The practice of faith in Amida is performed through nembutsu, the continual recitation of the mantra Namu Amida Butsu, which bonds us to Amida and brings us into his care.