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Zen / Mahayana

The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, of which Zen is an important expression (along with Chinese Chan and Korean Soen), arose sometime around the first century C.E. in South India and spread throughout Asia.  It is characterized by the ideal of the bodhisattva: the compassionate being whose desire for enlightenment isn’t an individual quest but includes all other sentient beings as well.

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  1. The Path of the Human Being

    The Path of the Human Being

    Zen Teachings on the Bodhisattva Way

    • by
    • Dennis Genpo Merzel
    Dennis Merzel, one of the most highly regarded American Zen teachers, explains how meditation can gradually lead us to becoming more and more familiar with our minds, allowing us to better understand ourselves and the nature of human life. He explores the practice of meditation in depth, as well as a range of related topics including: connecting meditation practice to everyday life, understanding central Zen concepts, working with a teacher,… Read More

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  2. At Home in the Muddy Water

    At Home in the Muddy Water

    A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos

    • by
    • Ezra Bayda
    May we exist like a lotus, / At home in the muddy water. / Thus we bow to life as it is. This verse is an important reminder, says Ezra Bayda, of what the spiritual life is truly about: the willingness to open ourselves to whatever life presents—no matter how messy or complicated. And through that willingness to be open, we can discover wisdom, compassion, and the… Read More

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  3. Zen Lessons

    Zen Lessons

    The Art of Leadership

    This guide to enlightened conduct for people in positions of authority is based on the teachings of several great Chinese Zen masters. Drawing on private records, letters, and long-lost documents of the Song dynasty (tenth to thirteenth centuries), Zen Lessons consists of short excerpts written in language that is accessible to the reader without any background in Eastern philosophy. This book serves as a guide to recognizing the… Read More

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  4. Infinite Circle

    Infinite Circle

    Teachings in Zen

    • by
    • Bernie Glassman
    In Infinite Circle, one of America's most distinctive Zen teachers takes a back-to-basics approach to Zen. Glassman illuminates three key teachings of Zen Buddhism, offering line-by-line commentary in clear, direct language: The Heart Sutra: the Buddha's essential discourse on emptiness, a central sutra of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. "The Identity of Relative and Absolute": an eighth-century poem by Shih-t'ou His-ch'ien, a key text of… Read More

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  5. Jizo Bodhisattva

    Jizo Bodhisattva

    Guardian of Children, Travelers, and Other Voyagers

    • by
    • Jan Chozen Bays
    Jizo is an important bodhisattva or "saint" of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Most prominent today in Japanese Zen, Jizo is understood to be the protector of those journeying through the physical and spiritual realms. This bodhisattva is closely associated with children, believed to be their guardian before birth, throughout childhood, and after death. Here, an American Zen master offers an engaging and informative overview of the history of… Read More

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  6. Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record

    Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record

    Zen Comments by Hakuin and Tenkei

    The Blue Cliff Record is a classic text of Zen Buddhism, designed to assist in the activation of dormant human potential. The core of this extraordinary work is a collection of one hundred traditional citations and stories, selected for their ability to bring about insight and enlightenment. These vignettes are known as gongan in Chinese and koan in Japanese. Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record … Read More

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  7. Ordinary Enlightenment

    Ordinary Enlightenment

    A Translation of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra

    • by
    • Charles Luk
    This classic scripture of Mahayana Buddhism and Zen emphasizes spiritual practice in the midst of secular life. Composed in about the second century CE, The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra tells the story of a householder named Vimalakirti who lived a worldly life while following the Bodhisattva path. This sutra is particularly applicable to Western students of Buddhism because it teaches that people in the secular life can practice Buddhism… Read More

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  8. The Eight Gates of Zen

    The Eight Gates of Zen

    A Program of Zen Training

    • by
    • John Daido Loori
    This accessible introduction to the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism includes a program of study that encompasses practically every aspect of life. The American Zen teacher John Daido Loori shows us that Zen practice should include not only meditation, the study of Zen literature and liturgy, and moral and ethical action, but should also manifest in work, artistic, and everyday activities. The Eight Gates are: … Read More

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  9. Riding the Ox Home

    Riding the Ox Home

    Stages on the Path of Enlightenment

    • by
    • John Daido Loori
    Maps and guideposts are helpful when we undertake a journey. The ten Ox-Herding Pictures, the accompanying ancient poems, and a modern commentary by John Daido Loori, sketch the spiritual path encountered in Zen training, a path of exhaustive study of the self and the realization of the ultimate nature of reality. The Ox-Herding Pictures can be our companion on the Way of self-discovery, our compass and perspective when we need… Read More

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  10. Transmission of Light

    Transmission of Light

    Zen in the Art of Enlightenment by Zen Master Keizan

    A translation of the classic Denkoroku by one of the premier translators of Buddhist and Taoist texts illustrates how to arrive at the epiphanic Zen awakening known as satori. The essential initiatory experience of Zen, satori is believed to open up the direct perception of things as they are. "Even if you sit until your seat breaks through, even if you persevere mindless of fatigue, even if you… Read More

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