Zen Under the Gun

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“These four generations of Chinese masters indeed taught amid social turbulence. These luminous teachings, translated clearly for the first time, remain informative for our own troubled period.”—Taigen Dan Leighton, translator of Dogen's Extensive Record


Four Zen Masters from Turbulent Times

J.C. Cleary

Sometimes history is cruel: a civilization starts to fall apart and a stable social order starts to unravel; upheaval and uncertainty abound. Tyrants ride high, old notions of justice vanish, and people may feel they have nowhere to turn for relief. In some ways, this is the story of human civilization.

Indeed, this is what happened to the Chinese world in the thirteenth century when the Mongol conquerors mangled China and left the Chinese social order in tatters.

This book, from one the pioneering and preeminent translators of Zen for the West, presents a selection of Zen lessons from four teachers in four successive generations whose public lives spanned a turbulent period in Chinese history. These four Zen masters were all eminent teachers, and their teaching words reflect the state of the art of Zen teaching in their time. And they are, even now, all vividly relevant.

book information
  • Paperback
  • 208 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
  • $16.95
  • ISBN 9780861715923
about the author
Zen Under the Gun

J.C. (Chris) Cleary held a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. He was the translator or co-translator of numerous works from Zen’s Chinese history including, in collaboration with his brother Thomas, The Blue Cliff Record. He passed away on February 25, 2023.

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