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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. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu

    The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu

    Joshu Jushin, also known as Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen (778–897), was one of the great Ch'an (Zen) masters of ancient China. It is said of Joshu that his "lips emitted light" because his manner of teaching was to speak words that so profoundly expressed Zen realization that students often had immediate insight. It was this ability to express the true nature of the enlightened mind in a way that was pithy and… Read More

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  9. Straight to the Heart of Zen

    Straight to the Heart of Zen

    Eleven Classic Koans and Their Inner Meanings

    • by
    • Philip Kapleau
    Koans are at the very heart of Zen practice; this collection of informal koan talks will bring the Zen student into the presence of Roshi Philip Kapleau, the famous author of The Three Pillars of Zen . The talks in this collection came directly from the zendo (training hall) and from the intense form of practice known as sesshin, a Japanese word meaning "to train the mind."… Read More

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  10. The Gateless Barrier

    The Gateless Barrier

    Zen Comments on the Mumonkan

    • by
    • Zenkei Shibayama
    For more than seven centuries the Mumonkan has been used in Zen monasteries to train monks and to encourage the religious development of lay Buddhists. It contains forty- eight koans, or spiritual riddles, that must be explored during the course of Zen training. Shibayama Zenkei (1894-1974), an influential Japanese Zen teacher and calligrapher who traveled and lectured throughout the United States in the 60s and 70s, offers… Read More

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