Zen Buddhism Guides

Chan, Zen, and Mahayana Buddhism in 2021

Chan, Zen, & Pure Land in 2021 Read More We published many books of interest from the East Asian Mahayana traditions in 2021. Here is a recap. See our other Year in Review Guides: Theravada/Pali/Insight | Chan, Zen, Mahayana | Tibetan Buddhism Receive a 30% discount on these titles through January 2nd using code 2021YE at checkout We are very happy to share with you a look back at our 2021 books for those who practice in the family of...
Continue Reading >>

Zen in Japan: Up to the Meiji Restoration

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  Zen in Japan: Up to the Meiji Restoration Twilight Landscape In the Style of Ikkyū Sōjun Japanese. From the Met. Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to...
Continue Reading >>

Remembering Thomas Cleary, Translator of Asian Classics

Last week we received the very sad news that Thomas Cleary, one of the greatest translators of our time, passed away on June 20, 2021. Thomas Cleary (1949–2021) was the twentieth century's most prolific translator of Asian classics to English, translating and introducing over eighty works from Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, Pali, Bengali, Arabic, and Old Irish. Shambhala Publications publishes over sixty of his works. He was a very private person, shunning the limelight and preferring to work quietly, producing some...
Continue Reading >>

The Buddhist Translations of Thomas Cleary: A Reader’s Guide

Thomas Cleary (1949—2021) was one of the twentieth century’s greatest translators of Asian classics. He was extremely prolific, translating and authoring countless works. Shambhala Publications has published over sixty. His books have sold millions of copies and his translations have in turn been translated into over twenty languages worldwide. His first published project, in collaboration with his brother J.C. Cleary, was the classic Blue Cliff Record, that great collection of koans. Buddhism was a large part of his translations, with...
Continue Reading >>

The Works of Zen in the Song Dynasty

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Works of Zen in the Tang Dynasty Shakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains China, Zen in the Song dynasty Image from the Cleveland Museum of Art Explore...
Continue Reading >>

The Samurai and Zen

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Samurai and Zen Samurai and Zen: The Third Matsumoto Koshiro as a Samurai Standing1769 or 1770 From the Met Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to...
Continue Reading >>

Hakuin Ekaku: A Reader’s Guide

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  Hakuin Ekaku Hakuin: self-portrait. Ink on paper, 101.6 x 28.6 cm. Eisei Bunko Foundation. Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to the Great Works  Overview Zen Buddhism:...
Continue Reading >>

Dogen: A Guide to His Works

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  Dogen: A Guide to His Work Dogen, from the cover of Essential Dogen. Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to the Great Works  Overview Zen Buddhism: A...
Continue Reading >>

Early Zen in Japan

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  Early Zen in Japan Three Poems from the “Later Collection of Japanese Poems” (Gosen wakashū), or “Shirakawa Fragment” (Shirakawa-gire) late 12th century, early Zen in Japan. Traditionally...
Continue Reading >>

The Works of the Chan & Zen Patriarchs

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Works of the Chan and Zen Patriarchs Hear a description of this statue of the First Patriarch Bodhidharma from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImages/as/audio/5TH-7436-ENG-42547-1.mp3 Explore...
Continue Reading >>

The Works of Zen in the Tang Dynasty

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Tang Dynasty (618–907) is considered the zenith of Chinese history and culture, often referred to as a "Golden Age."  And Chan was woven very deeply into...
Continue Reading >>

Korean Zen

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Seon Tradition of Zen in Korea Portrait of the Great Master Seosan From the Met Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to the Great Works  Overview...
Continue Reading >>

The Great Koan Collections

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  Ten Verses on Oxherding, included in many gongan or koan collections. From the the Met Explore Zen Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to the Great Works  Overview Zen...
Continue Reading >>

Zen Buddhism: A Reader’s Guide to the Great Works

There have been surprisingly few clear introductions to the full range of the East Asian tradition of what is popularly commonly referred to, in its Japanese variant, as Zen Buddhism but also known as Chan, Soen, and Tien in original Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  All these names stem from the Sanskrit word jhana or dhyana which was rendered as Chan, but all share a fundamental set of practices and views, though with a stunning variety of creativity and approaches. In...
Continue Reading >>

Shambhala Publications and the Global Health Crisis

We know your lives have been profoundly changed by the impact of the ongoing global health crisis. We know you are concerned for yourselves, for your loved ones, for your communities. We know so many people are suffering right now, and are afraid. And we want to help. We want you to know that though we may be physically isolated, we are all connected, and we’re in this together. Below you will find lots of great ideas for weathering this storm:...
Continue Reading >>

Stephanie Kaza in Conversation about Green Buddhism

Stephanie Kaza, author of GREEN BUDDHISM: Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times, in conversation about her life as a UC Santa Cruz biologist, a writer, a professor, and a Buddhist.     Books by Stephanie Kaza See All Books
Continue Reading >>

The Legacy of Master Sheng Yen

Chan Master Sheng Yen (1930–2009) was a widely respected Taiwanese Chan (Chinese Zen) master who taught extensively in the West during the last thirty-one years of his life. He had numerous teaching centers throughout North America, as well throughout the world. He co-led retreats with the Dalai Lama, and he is the author of numerous books in Chinese and English, including Song of Mind, The Method of No-Method, and his autobiography, Footprints in the Snow. This reader’s guide offers a...
Continue Reading >>

Buddha Nature: A Reader’s Guide

In the eleventh century, the great Tibetan scholar-practitioner Gampopa (1079–1153) began his composition known as The Jewel Ornament of Liberation with an exposition on the cause for awakening. What is the cause for awakening? In the Vajrayana and third turning traditions of Buddhism it is buddha nature. Buddha nature is our innate potential for awakening and the root of many Buddhist paths. Zen, Yogacara, and all Tibetan traditions of Buddhism teach that the goal of enlightenment is not some distant...
Continue Reading >>

The Heart Sutra: A Reader Guide

    This is part of a series of articles on the arc of Zen thought, practice, and history, as presented in The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World.  You can start at the beginning of this series or simply explore from here.  The Heart Sutra The Heart Sutra stands among the classic Buddhist scriptures. Akin in importance to the “Shema Yisrael” for Jews or the “Lord’s Prayer” for Christians,...
Continue Reading >>

We Won’t Last Forever | An Excerpt from Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home

Death A Long Distance Call On a Wednesday morning, sitting in my old blue Volvo in a parking lot after just getting a facial—my cheeks redolent with cream, all pores clean—I called the Cancer Center in Santa Fe, persuaded an oncologist to look up my chart. The oncologist I was assigned to was on vacation, and no one else was willing to give me the results of my blood tests. “Sure, I can do that,” he said. He came back...
Continue Reading >>

Buddhist Poetry – A Reader Guide

Buddhist Poetry: A Reader Guide Navigating the vast world of spiritual verse can be disorienting. With so many anthologies and translations to choose from, finding what speaks to you can be a real challenge. Shambhala Publications publishes numerous books of Buddhist poetry, and we’ve gathered some of our favorites here. Ranging from classical Tibetan songs of devotion to contemporary American reflections on navigating the path, our collection of Buddhist poetry offers a little something for everyone, Buddhist or otherwise. Chan...
Continue Reading >>

Being Human | An Excerpt from Zen in the Age of Anxiety

Wisdom for Navigating Our Modern Lives I can’t get no satisfaction ’Cause I try and I try and I try and I try I can’t get no, I can’t get no Satisfaction (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction The Rolling Stones’s first big hit in the United States was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and is still considered by many the greatest song they ever recorded. It made the charts in 1965. I was in my fourth year at Stanford University,...
Continue Reading >>

The Approach and Intent of Zen | An Excerpt from The Rinzai Zen Way

Understanding the Rinzai Zen Way Studying Zen, one rides all vehicles of Buddhism; practicing Zen, one attains awakening in a single lifetime. —Eisai   [From a teisho given in February 2012] In speaking with many beginning Zen students, it seems apparent that although they may be familiar with some of the methods of Zen practice, what is often lacking is an understanding of the overall approach and intent of the Zen way. Without this understanding it will be difficult to...
Continue Reading >>

Book Club Discussion | Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Each month, the Shambhala employees gather to discuss a new book as part of our Shambhala Publications Book Club. After each meeting, we will be sharing the notes from our discussion with you to spark your own thoughts and conversations. Our October pick was Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki. Book Description In the forty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern spiritual classics,...
Continue Reading >>

Talking with Jan Chozen Bays About Mindful Eating

Food: A Way to Contentedness and Connection An interview on the publication of the expanded edition of her book Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food By Dave O'Neal Shambhala:  What, in a nutshell, is “mindful eating”? Jan Chozen Bays: Mindful eating is deliberately paying full attention to what you are eating or drinking, without criticism or judgement. The last part, “without criticism of judgement,”  is very important, since so many people are under constant attack by...
Continue Reading >>

A Walk with Dogen into Our Time

For a full reader's guide to Dogen's works, visit our Reader Guide. Peter Levitt's introduction to The Essential Dogen In 1954 poet Allen Ginsberg wrote a poem called "Song" that acknowledges the weight of our human circumstance and suf­fering in a particular and somewhat unusual way. I believe it may also provide a gateway to the following writings by Zen master Eihei Dogen, who addressed the nature of reality as he came to understand the world of people and things...
Continue Reading >>

Haiku: A Reader’s Guide

Also see our Reader's Guide to Buddhist Poetry. Many know haiku as a three-line poem, the first and last lines five syllables long, and the second line, seven. But there is much more to what defines haiku, elements more subtle than prescribed syllable counts or line breaks. In fact, Japanese haiku are typically written in a single column, and many haiku deviate from the syllable count familiar to so many of us. So, what then, makes a haiku a haiku?...
Continue Reading >>

Samurai and Japanese Culture Reader’s Guide: The Works of Master Translator and Author William Scott Wilson

One of the greatest joys for me as an editor at Shambhala Publications is when I work on books by people I have long admired. This was most definitely the case when Shambhala had the good fortune to become William Scott Wilson’s publisher several years ago. I first encountered his work when I was a young martial arts student; his translation of Takuan Soho’s The Unfettered Mind was a revelation. When, many years later, I began to correspond with him...
Continue Reading >>

A New Perspective on an Ancient Practice: An Interview with Zoketsu Norman Fischer

Shambhala: How did you first encounter Zen, and what was your introduction to practice like? Norman Fischer: I got involved at first through reading-reading and thinking about my life. This was in the very early days, when there were no Zen centers or practice centers of any kind (at least that I was aware of) and the idea that Buddhism could be practiced in the West was not even thinkable. What a difference from today! So, as a young man...
Continue Reading >>

Pointing to the Heart of the Buddhadharma: An Interview with Guo Gu, author of The Essence of Chan

Shambhala: Can you tell us something about your background-how you encountered the Buddhadharma? Guo Gu: I first learned meditation when I was in Taiwan at age four. A meditation master named Guangqin taught me how to sit in meditation, and I thought it was fun to copy what he was doing. Later, my family immigrated to the States when I was 11. We studied Chan Master Sheng Yen. He was to become my Shifu, or "teacher-father, " the most important...
Continue Reading >>

About Kazuaki Tanahashi: An Interview with Roshi Joan Halifax

Shambhala: How long have you known Kaz? Roshi Joan: I met Kaz in the mid 1980s when we invited him and other artists to the Ojai Foundation with Thich Nhat Hanh. I felt an instant connection with him, and since that time we have collaborated on many projects and have become good friends and allies in the work of nonviolence. S: How long have you and he been teaching together-and what form does that take? RJ: We have been teaching...
Continue Reading >>

Normalcy at Its Best: An Interview with David Chadwick, Biographer of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Shambhala: Your teacher Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind has now been in print for more than forty years, and is still often recommended as the best first book to read about Zen practice. Why do you think its popularity has endured throughout the explosion of Buddhist publishing the last few years? David Chadwick: Hard to say. It's just got a unique chemistry that has worked in many ways for many people. ZMBM can be a warm, inviting introduction to...
Continue Reading >>