J.C. Cleary holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. He is the translator or co-translator of numerous works from Zen’s Chinese history, including The Blue Cliff Record. He lives outside Boston.
“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
ZEN UNDER THE GUN
Four Zen Masters from Turbulent Times
- add to cart Paperback $16.95
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.
- 208 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
- ISBN 9780861715923
Entangling Vines (Paperback)
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.
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.
Daughters of Emptiness
Women played major roles in the history of Buddhist China, but given the paucity of the remaining records, their voices have all but faded. In Daughters of Emptiness, Beata Grant renders a great service by recovering and translating the enchanting verse—by turns assertive, observant, devout—of forty-eight nuns from sixteen centuries of imperial China. This selection of poems, along with the brief biographical accounts that accompany them, affords readers a glimpse into the extraordinary diversity and sometimes startling richness of these women’s lives.
A sample poem for this stunning collection:
The sequence of seasons naturally pushes forward,
Suddenly I am startled by the ending of the year.
Lifting my eyes I catch sight of the winter crows,
Calling mournfully as if wanting to complain.
The sunlight is cold rather than gentle,
Spreading over the four corners like a cloud.
A cold wind blows fitfully in from the north,
Its sad whistling filling courtyards and houses.
Head raised, I gaze in the direction of Spring,
But Spring pays no attention to me at all.
Time a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack,
The tap [of Death] at the door has its predestined time.
How should I not know, one who has left the world,
And for whom floating clouds are already familiar?
In the garden there grows a rosary-plum tree:
Whose sworn friendship makes it possible to endure.
—Chan Master Jingnuo
Chen-Chiu: The Original Acupuncture
Chen-Chiu: The Original Acupuncture is based on an historic Chinese acupuncture text that remains vital to this day: the Ling-Shu-Jing. Dr. Claus Schnorrenberger, who has produced a well-known translation of Ling-Shu-Jing, here applies his personal medical experience—as a lecturer, and moreover, as an orthodox Western physician and Chinese acupuncturist/herbalist—to the principles of the text.
The result is a new view of the prevailing Western perceptions of Chinese medicines. The author calls into question such concepts as Chi, the meridians, and even acupuncture itself, in order to correct erroneous translations still in use by many to this day. Chen-Chiu provides an epistemological reflection on what Chinese medicine and acupuncture really mean, and adds new contrast and insight into Western and Eastern views of healing. This, the author rightly contends, is essential for the successful integration of Chinese medicines in the West.
Schnorrenberger’s book is well-balanced and much-needed, appropriate not only as a reference for students and practitioners of Chinese medicine, but also as a learning aid for patients, health-care workers and administrators, Western physicians, and more.
The Ceasing of Notions
Among the writings from the Dunhuang Caves, discovered in the mid-twentieth Century, are the Zen equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls—ancient texts unknown for centuries. The Ceasing of Notions is one such text. It takes a unique form: a dialogue between two imaginary figures, a master and his disciple, in which the disciple tenaciously pursues the master’s pity utterances with follow-up questions that propel the dialogue toward ever more profound insights. And these questions prove to be the reader’s very own. Soko Morinaga brings alive this compact and brilliant text with his own vivid commentary.
This volume also includes a generous selection from Morinaga’s acclaimed autobiography, Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of my Own Stupidity.
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!
The Book of Equanimity
The Book of Equanimity contains the first-ever complete English language commentary on one of the most beloved classic collections of Zen teaching stories (koans), making them vividly relevant to spiritual seekers and Zen students in the twenty-first century. Continually emphasizing koans as effective tools to discover and experience the deepest truths of our being, Wick brings the art of the koan to life for those who want to practice wisdom in their daily lives.
The koan collection Wick explores here is highly esteemed as both literature and training material in the Zen tradition, in which koan-study is one of two paths a practitioner might take. This collection is used for training in many Zen centers in the Americas and in Europe but has never before been available with commentary from a contemporary Zen master. Wick’s Book of Equanimity includes new translations of the preface, main case and verse for each koan, and modern commentaries on the koans by Wick himself.
Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō captures the power of Saigyō’s poetry and this previously overlooked poet’s keen insight into the social and political world of medieval Japan. It also offers a fascinating look into the world of Japanese Buddhism prior to the wholesale influence of Zen.
The Art of Just Sitting
Shikantaza—or “just sitting”—is one of the simplest, most subtle forms of meditation, and one of the most easily misunderstood. This peerless volume brings together a wealth of writings, from the Buddha himself to Bodhidharma and Dogen and many of modern Zen Buddhism’s most influential masters, all pointing directly to the heart of this powerful practice. Edited by one of America’s pre-eminent Zen teachers, this book is a rich resource for wisdom seekers and scholars alike.
A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency
Never before have so many teachers from all Buddhist traditions—Zen, Vajrayana, Theravada, Vipassana; from the West and the East—come together to offer a unified response to a matter of utmost urgency. This watershed volume is at the same time a clarion call to action and a bright beacon of hope.
With contributions from: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Seventeenth Karmapa, Sakya Trizin, Dudjom Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Ato Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Robert Aitken, Joanna Macy, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Joseph Goldstein, Taigen Dan Leighton, Susan Murphy, Matthieu Ricard, Hozan Alan Senauke, Lin Jensen, and Thich Nhat Hanh.
The Buddha’s Dream of Liberation
Explore the three great teachings of the Buddha with this plain-English primer:
• The First Turning of the Wheel: Insight into the nature of suffering—and the way out of it—from the four noble truths and the eightfold path
• The Second Turning of the Wheel: Teachings on emptiness from the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra
• The Third Turning of the Wheel: Guidance for practitioners and teachings on awakened Buddha nature
In clear language, James William Coleman guides us through the ancient sutras that preserve the Buddha’s message, illuminating their meaning for today’s world and tying the Buddha’s wisdom together for us. The book concludes with chapters from two great teachers, Reb Anderson from the Zen tradition and Lama Palden from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, on how to use meditation to bring the Buddha’s wisdom into our daily lives.
A New Buddhist Path
David R. Loy addresses head-on the most pressing issues of Buddhist philosophy in our time.
What is the meaning of enlightenment—is it an escape from the world, or is it a form of psychological healing?
How can one reconcile modern scientific theory with ancient religious teachings?
What is our role in the universe?
Loy shows us that neither Buddhism nor secular society by itself is sufficient to answer these questions. Instead, he investigates the unexpected intersections of the two. Through this exchange, he uncovers a new Buddhist way, one that is faithful to the important traditions of Buddhism but compatible with modernity. This way, we can see the world as it is truly is, realize our indivisibility from it, and learn that the world’s problems are our problems. This is a new path for a new world.
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.
Falling is Flying
“Instead of trying to discipline your mind with ill will, fault-finding, guilt, punishment, and fear, use something far more powerful: the beautiful kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness of making peace with life.”—Ajahn Brahm
“In free fall, nothing is solid and there is nothing to hold on to. There is no way to control the experience. You have to surrender, and with that surrender comes the taste of liberation.”
Ajahn Brahm and Chan Master Guojun—one a teacher in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, the other in the Chinese Zen tradition—share personal stories and anecdotes from their own experiences of dealing with life’s pitfalls. Personal, poetic, instructive, and often laugh-out-loud funny, this is inspiring advice for people from all walks of life.
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.