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  Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryokan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way... continue...

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The majority of the following books are from the library of Chon Tri. Many of the summaries and in his own words. If you wish to purchase the book, click on the cover image and you will be linked to Amazon.com.
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» Recommend a Book
buy this book ZEN IN MEDIEVAL VIETNAM: A STUDY AND TRANSLATION OF THIEN UYEN TAP ANH
by Cuong Tu Nguyen (translator)
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (ISBN #: 0824819489, Hardcover, 483 pp, December 1997)
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Summary
From the Publisher
Among the China-based Buddhist traditions of East Asia, Vietnamese Buddhism is the least known. To most Westerners, it is an extrapolation of popular perceptions of modern East Asian Buddhism, particularly Japanese Zen. As a result, Vietnamese Buddhism has been considered a faithful continuation of Chinese Zen - a view enthusiastically embraced by Vietnamese Buddhists themselves. At the root of this misperception lies the uncritical acceptance of the Thien Uyen Tap Anh (Outstanding Figures in the Zen Community [of Vietnam]), a fourteenth-century text of the Chinese "chuandeng lu" (transmission of the lamp) genre, which claims to report the transmission of the Zen lineages in Vietnam. The author proposes a rereading of the Thien Uyen and an analysis from a variety of perspectives (historical, textual, and comparative), which includes an outline of influences and borrowings from the Chinese Jingde chuandeng lu, a text composed in the early eleventh century. He concludes that there has never been a "Zen tradition" in Vietnam in the sense of unbroken lineages, a well-defined philosophical outlook, or institutions with an identifiable set of scriptures, doctrines, and practices. Rather Zen Buddhism manifests itself in a philosophical attitude and artistic sentiments scattered throughout religious and cultural life. To support his argument, Nguyen concludes his study with a complete, annotated translation of the Thien Uyen, the first ever in English.

buy this book 1. A ZEN WAVE: BASHO'S HAIKU AND ZEN
by Matsuo Basho - Robert Aitken (translator & commentator)
Publisher: Weatherhill, Inc. (ISBN #: 083480137X, Paperback, 191 pp, April 1996)
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Summary
From the Publisher
Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself by brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression. The haiku verse form is a superb means of studying Zen modes of thought and expression, for its seventeen syllables impose a rigorous limitation that confines the poet to vital experience. Here haiku by Matsuo Basho (1644-94) — the greatest Japanese haiku poet — are translated by Robert Aitken, with commentary that provides a new and deeper understanding of Basho's work than ever before. In presenting themes from the haiku and from Zen literature that open the doors both to the poems and to Zen itself, Aitken has produced the first book about the relationship between Zen and haiku. His readers are certain to find it invaluable for the remarkable revelations it offers.

buy this book 2. BANKEI ZEN
by Zen master Bankei; Peter Haskel (translator)
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (ISBN #: 0802131840, Paperback, 240 pp, January 1990)
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Summary
The eccentric Bankei has long been an underground hero in the world of Zen. At a time when Zen was becoming overly formalized in Japan, he stressed its relevance to everyday life, insisting on the importance of naturalness and spontaneity.

Translated from Japanese by Peter Haskel

buy this book 3. BRANCHING STREAMS FLOW IN THE DARKNESS
by Shunryu Suzuki; Michael Wenger & Mel Weitsman (editors)
Publisher: University of California Press (ISBN #: 0520219821, Hardcover, 199 pp, November 1999)
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Summary
Synopsis
Like Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, it is a collection of lectures that reveal the insight, humor, and intimacy with Zen that made Suzuki Roshi so influential as a teacher. The Sandokai -- a poem by the eighth-century Zen master Sekito Kisen (Ch. Shitou Xiqian) -- is the subject of these lectures. Given in 1970 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the lectures are an example of a Zen teacher in his prime elucidating a venerated, ancient, and difficult work to his Western students. The poem addresses the question of how the oneness of things and the multiplicity of things coexist (or, as Suzuki Roshi expresses it, "things-as-it-is").

buy this book 4. CAVE OF TIGER: MODERN ZEN ENCOUNTERS
by John Daido Loori
Publisher: Weatherhill (ISBN #: 0834804336, Paperback: 256 pages, April 2000)
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Summary
"A unique presentation of Zen by a unique teacher - a fascinating perspective on the teacher-student relationship that rests at the heart of Zen training." -- Philip Kapleau Roshi.

Reviewer: Algernon D'Ammassa (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
For many new students investigating Zen Buddhist practice, the dialogues of ancient Zen students with their teachers - many of which are cited in cases known as "koans" - seem inscrutable. CAVE OF TIGERS is a wonderful gift to us. It records public dialogues (or "dharma combat") between students of contemporary master John Daido Loori at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York State. The dialogues are dynamic, spontaneous, and full of the spirit of moment-to-moment practice with a keen-eyed teacher. It demonstrates that the koan is nothing other than our life, now.

buy this book 5. CH'AN AND ZEN TEACHING, VOL. 1
by Charles Luk (editor)
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (ISBN #: 0877287953, Paperback, 220 pp, May 1994)
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Summary
From the Publisher
Ch'an and Zen Teaching Vol. 1. First of three volume set contains the practice as taught by the late Ch'an Master, the Venerable Hsu Yun. This practice elaborates upon the technique known as Hua t'ou, a secret technique taught only in Japanese zendos.
Customer Reviews
Terrence, nowhere to be found, September 19, 2001,
Superb Guide
For the student or aspiring student of Ch'an this is in the reviewer's opinion, the best guide if a learned hand is not present. First of 3 volumes. Offers Ch'an master Hsu Yun's commentary and discourses, stories of six Ch'an masters, and the Diamond and Heart sutras with master Han Shan's commentaries on them. The late Lu Kuan Yu is should be regarded as a Bhodisattva. An invaluable asset indeed.

buy this book 6. CH'AN AND ZEN TEACHING, VOL. 2
by Charles Luk (editor)
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (ISBN #: 087728797X, Paperback: 256 pages, October 1993)
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Summary
Ch'an and Zen Teaching Vol 2. Second of the three volume Chan and Zen Teaching. A supplement to the first book for advanced reading. The work is divided into two main parts. Part one details the 'Forty Transmission Gathas' of the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity, Twenty-seven Indian Patriachs, and Six Chinese Patriachs. Part two details the 'Stories of the Founders of the Five Chan Sects in China'. Extremely detailed with the help of the Author's preface and many footnotes throughout this classic work. Those who have read and understood the first volume are encouraged to read this.

buy this book 7. CH'AN AND ZEN TEACHING, VOL. 3
by Charles Luk (editor)
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (ISBN #: 0877287988, Paperback, 304 pp, May 1994)
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Summary
From the Publisher
Ch'an and Zen Teaching Vol. 3. Last of the three volume work. More supplementary reading for the advancing student. Dividing into three main parts. Part one details 'The Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriach', a staple work of Chan Buddhism. Part two details 'Yung Chia's Song of Enlightenment'. Part three details 'The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment' with commentary by Master Han Shan. All translations are preceded by the Author's preface and are accompanied with his numerous footnotes. Interesting photographs of embalmed masters are also included. Highly recommended for those who have made progress in Chan practice, or have studied the author's previous installments.

buy this book 8. COLLECTED SONGS OF COLD MOUNTAIN
by Han Shan; Red Pine (translator)
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press (ISBN #: 1556591403, Paperback, 320 pp, January 2000)
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Summary
From The Critics
Cold Mountain, or Han Shan, the possibly mythical Taoist Chinese recluse of the eighth or ninth century, left a legacy of just over 300 poems, or "songs," as identified by translator Red Pine, the pen name for the American Bill Porter, a writer and translator who has lived in Taiwan and China for nearly three decades. Red Pine's other works include Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits, which weaves some of Cold Mountain's poems into a journey to the mountains of China known for centuries to have provided refuge for Zen practitioners and Taoist adepts like Cold Mountain himself. Accompanying Red Pine's translations of the mostly five-syllable, eight-line verses are the text of each poem in Chinese as well as glosses on terms and personages, many based on a classical exegesis of Cold Mountain's poems. This translation adds to the corpus of Han Shan's poems in Western languages, including those by Gary Snyder and Burton Watson. Recommended for East Asian collections in academic and larger public libraries.--D.E. Perushek, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. Library Journal

buy this book 9. CULTIVATING THE EMPTY FIELD: THE SILENT ILLUMINATION OF ZEN MASTER HONGZHI
by Ch'an master Hongzhi; Yi Wu & Taigen Dan Leighton (translators)
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. (ISBN #: 0804832404, Paperback, 128 pp, July 2000)
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Summary
These are the core teachings of Ch'an master Hongzhi, one of the great Chinese Soto Ch'an who has had a profound effect on Soto Zen in Japan.

Translated from Chinese by Yi Wu & Taigen Dan Leighton

buy this book 10. DISCOURSE ON THE INEXHAUSTIBLE LAMP OF THE ZEN SCHOOL
by Zen master Torei Enji; Yoko Okuda (translator)
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. (ISBN #: 0804830878, Paperback, 560 pp, September 1996)
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Summary
From the Publisher
Based on the teachings of the great Zen Master Hakuin Zenji, The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School is an essential guide to Rinzai Zen training. It was written by Torei Enji Zenji (1720-1792), Hakuin's dharma successor. In this book, Master Torei begins by providing a concise history of the Rinzai school and lineage. He then details all the important aspects of Zen practice, most notably great faith, great doubt, and great determination. He also provides explanations of koan study and zazen (meditation) as a means of attaining true satori (enlightenment.). This edition includes extensive commentary by Master Daibi, providing both essential background information and clarification of several Buddhist concepts unfamiliar to the general reader. The result is an invaluable record of traditional Zen training.

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