Jean Smith's enormously practical approach ensures that The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism will become the book teachers and students alike will recommend.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.
Shitou Xiqian’s “Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage” is a remarkably accessible work of profound depth; in thirty-two lines Shitou expresses the breadth of the entire Buddhist tradition with simple, vivid imagery. Ben Connelly’s Inside the Grass Hut unpacks the timeless poem and applies it to contemporary life. His book delivers a wealth of information on the context and content of this eighth-century work, as well as directly evokes the poem’s themes of simple living, calm, and a deep sense of connection to all things.
Each pithy chapter focuses on a single line of the poem, letting the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line and then come up for air before moving on to the next. Line by line, Connelly shows how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, expands on the poem’s depiction of a life of simple practice in nature, and tells stories of the way these teachings manifest in modern life. Connelly, like Shitou before him, proves himself adept at taking profound and complex themes from Zen and laying them out in a practical and understandable way.
Eminently readable, thoroughly illuminating, Inside the Grass Hut shows the reader a path of wholehearted engagement—with the poem, and with the world. Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.
Eminent Nuns is an innovative interdisciplinary work that brings together several of these important seventeenth-century trends. Although Buddhist nuns have been a continuous presence in Chinese culture since early medieval times and the subject of numerous scholarly studies, this book is one of the first not only to provide a detailed view of their activities at one particular moment in time, but also to be based largely on the writings and self-representations of Buddhist nuns themselves. This perspective is made possible by the preservation of collections of discourse records (yulu) of seven officially designated female Chan masters in a seventeenth-century printing of the Chinese Buddhist Canon rarely used in English-language scholarship. The collections contain records of religious sermons and exchanges, letters, prose pieces, and poems, as well as biographical and autobiographical accounts of various kinds. Supplemental sources by Chan monks and male literati from the same region and period make a detailed re-creation of the lives of these eminent nuns possible.
Beata Grant brings to her study background in Chinese literature, Chinese Buddhism, and Chinese women s studies. She is able to place the seven women, all of whom were active in Jiangnan, in their historical, religious, and cultural contexts, while allowing them, through her skillful translations, to speak in their own voices. Together these women offer an important, but until now virtually unexplored, perspective on seventeenth-century China, the history of female monasticism in China, and the contributionof Buddhist nuns to the history of Chinese women s writing."
The third of Jean Smith’s Beginner’s Guides focuses on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path—the concepts central to practicing the Buddha’s teachings in daily life. The eight steps on the path are: right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Smith explains exactly what the Buddha had in mind, using translations of his own words and then elucidating them for us. Throughout the book are wonderful quotes from a broad range of Buddhist teachers, giving a taste of the very best each of them has to offer. The Beginner’s Guide to Walking the Buddha’s Eightfold Path is a prescription for happiness, not just for overcoming suffering, which is how many people think of Buddhism. Here is a book for Buddhists of every tradition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this intriguing and enlightening collection of stories, three Zen students reflect on their personal journeys and share how their lives subsequently transformed because of the practice. Under the direction of Zen Master Kido Inoue, they share their doubts, their difficulties, their amazement, and the transformations that they experienced in their lives. The ultimate aim of Zen is to break out of the constraints of ego and have direct personal experience of the absolute infinity of our being. It is to awaken to the truth of our nature beyond the ego. In a nutshell, Zen focuses on the essence of mind.