The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Important Koan

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The word "mu" is one ancient Zen teacher's response to the earnest question of whether even a dog has "buddha nature". Discovering for ourselves the meaning of the master's response is the urgent work of each of us who yearns to be free and at peace. "Practicing Mu" is synonymous with practicing Zen, "sitting with Mu" is an apt description for all Zen meditation, and it is said that all the thousands and thousands of koans in the Zen tradition are just further elaborations of Mu.

This watershed volume brings together over forty teachers, ancient and modern masters from across centuries and schools, to illuminate and clarify the essential matter: the question of how to be most truly ourselves.

Includes writings from: Dogen, Hakuin, Dahui, Thich Thien-An Zenkei Shibayama, Seung Sahn, Taizan Maezumi, Sheng Yen Philip Kapleau, Robert Aitken, Jan Chozen Bays, Shodo Harada Grace Schireson, John Daido Loori, John Tarrant Barry Magid, Joan Sutherland, and many more!
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About the author

James Ishmael Ford is a senior guiding teacher of Boundless Way Zen. James has been a student of Zen Buddhism for over forty years. He is also a senior Unitarian Universalist minister serving at the First Unitarian Church of Providence and a member of both the American Zen Teachers Association and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. He lives outside Providence.

Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, is a Zen teacher and the abbot of Boundless Way Zen, a school of Zen Buddhism with practice centers throughout New England. She is one of the resident teachers at Boundless Way Zen Temple in Worcester. From 1993 to 2012, Melissa was on the staff of the Center for Mindfulness (CFM), founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her positions at the CFM included Director of professional training programs and senior teacher and Associate Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic. In addition to Zen teaching and writing, Melissa also offers private meditation consulting and spiritual direction. She is co-editor of The Book of MU, published by Wisdom Publications in April of 2011. Her chapter from The Book of MU was included in Best Buddhist Writing, 2012, edited by Melvin MacLeod and published by Shambhala Publications.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Mar 17, 2011
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780861716098
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Essays
Philosophy / Zen
Religion / Buddhism / Zen
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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An indispensible guide to koans, teaching the reader about the importance of lineage, the practice of “just sitting,” and koan practice as paths to awakening.

“This marvelous book opens the treasure house of Zen and yet, happily, does not dispel its mystery. James Ford, an excellent storyteller and longtime Zen practitioner, presents a detailed and beautiful description of the craft of zazen, including “just sitting” and various forms of breath meditation—but focuses primarily on koan introspection.

The power of koans, these 'public cases' from China, has never ceased to enrich my own experience of Zen. They are a medium of exploration of the history, culture, and view of Zen, but most importantly are a medium of awakening.

James Ford is fundamentally a koan person, and for this, the book is particularly rich, opening the practice of koans in a splendid way. I am grateful for his long experience as a teacher and practitioner of this rare and powerful practice. Since the word koan has found its way into popular English usage, I am grateful too for the more nuanced and fertile view of koans that Ford presents. His definition of the word is telling: “a koan points to something of deep importance, and invites us to stand in that place.”

He has also has created a wonderful translation of the Heart Sutra, Zen’s central scripture—and carefully opens up the heart of the Heart Sutra through scholarship and practice. Rich in textual sources and woven throughout with the perspectives of contemporary teachers, Introduction to Zen Koans sheds new light on ancient teachings. Through it, the reader will discover the importance of lineage, the traceless traces of the Zen ancestors, and the places of “just sitting” and koan practice as paths to awakening, as the great doorways into Zen.”
—from the foreword by Joan Halifax
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