The stories of Zen are unlike any other writing, religious or otherwise. Used for centuries by Zen teachers as aids to bring about or deepen the experience of awakening, they have a freshness that goes beyond religious practice and a mystery and authenticity that appeal to a wide range of readers.
Placed in chronological order, these stories tell the story of Zen itself, how it traveled from West to East with each Zen master to the next, but also how it was transformed in that journey, from an Indian practice to something different in Chinese Buddhism (Ch'an) and then more different still in Japan (Zen). The fact that its transmission was so human, from teacher to student in a long chain from West to East, meant that the cultures it passed through inevitably changed it.
Zen Masters of China is first and foremost a collection of mind-bending Zen stories and their wisdom. More than that, without academic pretensions or baggage, it recounts the genealogy of Zen Buddhism in China and, through koan and story, illuminates how Zen became what it is today.
This edition also contains commentary on Bendowa by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, a foreword by Taigen Daniel Leighton, and an Introduction by Shohaku Okumura, both of whom prepared this English translation.
The Shobogenzo Zuimonki consists largely of brief talks, horatatory remarks, and instructional and cautionary comments by the Soto Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253). Translated, shobogenzo means the eye of the true law. Roughly translated, zuimonki means easy for the ears to understand, or simplified.
Unlike many scholarly studies, which offer detailed perspectives on historical development, or guides for personal practice written by contemporary Buddhist teachers, this volume takes a middle path between these two approaches, weaving together both history and insight to convey to the general reader the conditions, energy, and creativity that characterize Chan. Following a survey of the birth and development of Chan, its practices and spirituality are fleshed out through stories and teachings drawn from the lives of four masters: Bodhidharma, Huineng, Mazu, and Linji. Finally, the meaning of Chan as a living spiritual tradition is addressed through a philosophical reading of its practice as the realization of wisdom, attentive mastery, and moral clarity.