Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

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Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby cddesjar » Mon May 09, 2011 12:23 am

Hi,
I am looking to learn more about Zen and I was wondering if someone could recommend a few different titles to me? I am quite familiar with the basic tenets of Buddhism (4 Noble Truths, 8 Fold Path, etc.) and am looking for something that's an introduction specifically to Zen as a distinct school of Mahayana thought.
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Fa Dao » Mon May 09, 2011 12:47 am

if you want some original Zen...i.e Chan, then most anything by Master Sheng Yen is good. Here is a nice list that I recommend:
1. There Is No Suffering, a Commentary on the Heart Sutra-by Sheng Yen
2. The Heart Sutra-by Red Pine
3. The Diamond Sutra-by Red Pine
4. Describing The Indescribable-by Hsing Yun
5. Complete Enlightenment-by Sheng Yen
6. The Platform Sutra; The Zen Teaching of Hui Neng-by Red Pine
7. The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma-by Red Pine
8. The Lankavatara Sutra-by D.T. Suzuki
9. The Method of No-Method-by Sheng Yen
10. Shattering the Great Doubt-by Sheng Yen
11. Attaining the Way-by Sheng Yen
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Astus » Mon May 09, 2011 8:29 am

Also highly recommended:

Mahāyāna Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations by Paul Williams
The Awakening of Faith: attributed to Aśvaghoṣha by Yoshito S. Hakeda
The Surangama Sutra: A New Translation by Hsüan Hua OR Surangama Sutra by Lu-Kuan-Yu
Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wonhyo's Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra by Robert E. Buswell
The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment: Korean Buddhism's Guide to Meditation (with commentary by the Sŏn Monk Kihwa) by A. Charles Muller
Zongmi on Chan by Jeffrey L. Broughton
Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul's Korean way of Zen by Robert E. Buswell
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Anders » Mon May 09, 2011 10:49 am

That's a lot of books.

cddesjar, I suggest you pick Hoofprints of the Ox, by the late master Sheng-yen. Fa Dao also recommends some books by him but AFAIK this one is the one he intended as the introductory primer on Chan Buddhism. It's a very thorough going introduction to Chan Buddhism (Chinese Zen) that takes its roots in Mahayana Buddhism as it starting point and then going into the developments of Chan. It's a wonderful mix of being both very practically oriented and solidly grounded in the doctrinal tenets this practise is based on.

As a primer on Chan Buddhism, it should give you the basics thoroughly enough to start making sense of the more heavy-duty stuff like the sutras, etc. Having read that book, I'd probably suggest having a look at some classical material like the Platform Sutra.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Astus » Mon May 09, 2011 10:59 am

Anders, you're right, too much info kills the message.

A list of introductory essays and speeches on the WCF site, which has Ven. Shengyan's classic What is Chan? and more importantly Xuyun's Essentials of Chan Practice and Methods of Practice in the Chan Hall that are really good introductions to Chinese Chan practices, also short and easy to read.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Fa Dao » Mon May 09, 2011 2:18 pm

yes, definitely Awakening of Faith but only by the translator that Astus mentioned. There are some rather unusual translations out there on the net of that. Its a difficult read at first but once you get going it will blow your mind.
Also Hoofprints of the Ox like Anders suggested. (dont know how I forgot that one oopsy)
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby Fa Dao » Mon May 09, 2011 2:32 pm

One of the books I mentioned above, "Attaining the Way" by Master Sheng Yen has a good translation of Master Xu Yuns teachings in it. Master Xu Yuns teachings and autobiography had a huge impact on my life. He, almost single handedly, revitalized Chan in China when it was almost dead there. Rebuilt the Sixth Patriarchs monastery and the monastery of Master Yun Men.
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: Introduction to Zen Buddhism Books

Postby cddesjar » Wed May 11, 2011 1:26 am

Thanks to everyone that replied. I think I will start with Hoofprints of the Ox. Then read one of Fa Dao's or Astus's recommendations.
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