Eloquent Silence: Nyogen Senzaki's Gateless Gate and Other Previously Unpublished Teachings and Letters


The most comprehensive collection available of Nyogen Senzaki's brilliant teachings, Eloquent Silence brings new depth and breadth to our knowledge and appreciation of this historic figure. It makes available for the first time his complete commentaries on the Gateless Gate, one of the most important and beloved of all Zen texts, as well as on koans from the Blue Rock Annals and the Book of Equanimity. Amazingly, some of these commentaries were written while Senzaki was detained at an internment camp during WWII....

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The most comprehensive collection available of Nyogen Senzaki's brilliant teachings, Eloquent Silence brings new depth and breadth to our knowledge and appreciation of this historic figure. It makes available for the first time his complete commentaries on the Gateless Gate, one of the most important and beloved of all Zen texts, as well as on koans from the Blue Rock Annals and the Book of Equanimity. Amazingly, some of these commentaries were written while Senzaki was detained at an internment camp during WWII. Also included are rare photographs, poems reproduced in Senzaki's beautiful calligraphy and accompanied by his own translations, and transcriptions of his talks on Zen, esoteric Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra, what it means to be a Buddhist monk, and other subjects. Roko Sherry Chayat has edited Nyogen Senzaki's words with sensitivity and grace, retaining his wry, probing style yet bringing clarity and accessibility to these remarkably contemporary teachings.

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Editorial Reviews

"Roko Sherry Chayat has produced an elegant and loving tribute to this unique figure (Senzaki), a lively mix of koan commentary, dharma talks, poetry, and personal correspondence illuminating both man and monk."
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
"Published fifty years after his passing, Eloquent Silence is the fullest compendium to date of materials of Nyogen Senzaki, the original Japanese Zen pioneer in America (he arrived in 1905) whose stark and enduring dedication to Dharma pervades its pages. The volume includes poems, photos, fascimile versions in English and Japanese, koan talks (all 48 cases of Mumonkan, among others), general dharma talks, anecdotes, and a valuable Senzaki translation of an autobiographical fragment of his teacher, Soyen Shaku, the first Japanese Master ever to visit America. Lovingly assembled and introduced by Roko Sherry Chayat, this book belongs in the library of every English reader of Zen, not only for its historical importance, but because it provides the contemporary student with a clear vision of what the practice has been and what it can be. Senzaki's words go straight to the heart of the truth, without adornment or qualification."
Ruben Habito
"A towering, yet often overlooked pioneer of Zen in America is brought back to life in this fine collection of his dharma talks, essays, and poems, fifty years after his death. Thanks to the efforts and skillful editing hand of Roko Chayat Roshi, Nyogen Senzaki's clear Zen eye of wisdom and poetic spirit shine through these pages. His wise counsel and cutting words are no less timely for readers and Zen practitioners of today."
Melvin McLeod
"Nyogen Senzaki is one of twentieth-century Buddhism's most important figures, the first great Buddhist teacher to immerse himself without reservation in American culture, a poet and wanderer, a modern, progressive man and yet at heart a Zen traditionalist. His teachings are as fresh today as when they were given to his small band of pioneering American Zen students.This may be the last trove of unpublished Nyogen Senzaki material, and it includes his commentary on The Gateless Gate. If you haven't read any of Senzaki's teachings, you must. They're fresh, direct, and realized."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861715596
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 1,416,723
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Nyogen Senzaki, a colleague of Dr. D.T. Suzuki, was one of the first Zen masters to come from Japan to the United States. He founded the first Zen organizations in the new world, in California. He died in 1958.

Reverend Roko Sherry Chayat is abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji, which was founded in 1972. She began Zen practice in 1967 with Eido Shimano Roshi at New York Zendo Shobo-ji in New York City, where she also attended Dharma teachings by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi. Her training continued at Dai Bosatsu Zendo with Eido Roshi and, on his frequent visits, with Soen Nakagawa Roshi. She studied with the late Maurine Stuart at the Cambridge Buddhist Association in the 1980s. Roko Osho was ordained by Eido Roshi in 1991, and authorized by him as a Dharma Teacher the following year. He acknowledged her as his Dharma Heir in 1998. A creative writing graduate of Vassar College, she did post-graduate work in painting at the New York Studio School, and was a reviewer for ARTnews in the late 1960s. Her articles have also appeared in Sculpture magazine, American Ceramics, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma, among other journals, and she wrote a column on art for twenty years for the Syracuse Post-Standard and Sunday Stars Magazine, for which she won several awards. She has written, compiled, and edited several books, including Life Lessons: the Art of Jerome Witkin; Endless Vow: the Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa (with Eido Shimano Roshi and Kazuaki Tanahashi), and Subtle Sound: the Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart. She travels widely to teach and lead retreats, and is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association and Interfaith Works of Central New York. Sherry Chayat was installed as the second Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji on New Year's Day 2011.

Eido Shimano is a respected elder of the Zen community. He received dharma transmission from Soen Nakagawa Roshi and today serves as the abbot and spiritual teacher of two zendos, living at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in Livingston Manor, New York.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Eido Shimano Shimano, Eido

Introduction Roko Sherry Chayat Chayat, Roko Sherry 1

Acknowledgments 23

Photographs 27

Pt. I Commentaries on the Cateless Cate 35

Introductory Comments 37

Mumon's Introduction 40

Case 1 Joshu's Dog 43

Case 2 Hyakujo's Fox 47

Case 3 Gutei's Finger 51

Case 4 A Beardless Foreigner 54

Case 5 Kyogen's Man in a Tree 57

Case 6 Buddha Twirls a Flower 60

Case 7 Joshu's "Wash Your Bowl" 63

Case 8 Keichus Wheel 67

Case 9 A Buddha before History 70

Case 10 Seizei Alone and Poor 74

Case 11 Joshu Examines a Hermit Monk in Meditation 77

Case 12 Zuigan Calls His Own Master 80

Case 13 Tokusan Holds His Bowls 83

Case 14 Nansen Cuts the Cat in Two 87

Case 15 Tozan's Three Blows 91

Case 16 The Bell and the Ceremonial Robe 94

Case 17 The Three Calls of the Emperor's Teacher 97

Case 18 Tozan's Three Pounds 100

Case 19 Everyday Life Is the Path 104

Case 20 The Man of Great Strength 107

Case 21 Dried Dung 110

Case 22 Kashyapa's Preaching Sign 113

Case 23 Think Neither Good, Nor Not-Good 116

Case 24 Without Speech, Without Silence 121

Case 25 Preaching from the Third Seat 124

Case 26 Two Monks Roll Up the Screen 127

Case 27 It Is Not Mind, It Is Not Buddha, It Is Not Things 130

Case 28 Ryutan Blows Out the Candle 133

Case 29 Not the Wind, Not the Flag 137

Case 30: This Mind Is Buddha 141

Case 31 Joshu Investigates 144

Case 32 A Philosopher Asks Buddha 147

Case 33 This Mind Is Not Buddha 151

Case 34 Wisdom Is Not the Path 154

Case 35 Two Souls 158

Case 36 Meeting a Master on the Road 163

Case 37 The Cypress Tree in the Garden 166

Case 38 A Buffalo Passes through an Enclosure 169

Case39 Ummon's Off the Track 172

Case 40 Tipping Over a Water Vessel 175

Case 41 Bodhidharma Pacifies the Mind 178

Case 42 The Woman Comes Out from Meditation 181

Case 43 Shuzan's Short Staff 185

Case 44 Basho's Staff 188

Case 45 Who Is It? 191

Case 46 Proceed from the Top of the Pole 194

Case 47 The Three Barriers of Tosotsu 197

Case 48 One Path of Kernpo 200

Amban's Addition 203

Pt. II Commentaries on the Blue Rock Collection 207

Case 1 I Know Not 209

Case 2 The Ultimate Path 211

Case 8 Suigan's Eyebrows 213

Case 12 Tozan's Three Pounds of Flax 216

Case 22 Seppo's Cobra 218

Pt. III Commentaries on the Book of Equanimity 221

Introduction 223

Ch. 1 Buddha Takes His Preaching Seat 226

Ch. 2 Bodhidharma Walks Out from Samskrita 229

Pt. IV Dharma Talks and Essays 235

An Ideal Buddhist 237

A Meeting With Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan 242

Seven Treasures, Part One 244

Seven Treasures, Part Two 249

Seven Treasures, Part Three 253

The Ten Stages of Consciousness 257

Emancipation 260

How to Study Buddhism 265

Zen Buddhism in the Light of Modern Thought 268

Buddhism and Women 272

Obaku's Transmission of Mind, Part One 276

Obaku's Transmission of Mind, Part Two 279

Obaku's Transmission of Mind, Part Three 282

Obaku's Transmission of Mind, Part Four 286

Esoteric Buddhism in Japan 289

Shingon Teachings 296

What Is Zen? An Evening Chat 299

What Does a Buddhist Monk Want? 305

On Zen Meditation 309

On The Lotus of the Wonderful Law: Introducing Soen Nakagawa 315

Bankei's Zen 322

Pt. V Calligraphies and Selected Poems 325

"Basho" 327

"0pening words of Wyoming Zendo" 328

"Evacuees make poinsettia" 329

"Autumn came naturally" 330

"In this part of plateau" 331

"This desert on the plateau" 332

"My uta (Japanese ode)" 333

"Those who live without unreasonable desires" 334

"The mother was named an enemy-alien" 335

"Naked mountains afar!" 336

"No spring in this plateau" 337

"Closing the meditation hall" 338

"Bodhidharrna" 339

"This world is the palace of enlightenment" 340

"Until now the radiant moon" 341

odhidharma Commemoration 343

Celebration of Buddha's Birth 343

Translations of Three Poems by Jakushitsu 344

Commemoration of Soyen Shaku 346

Thirty-third Commemoration of Soyen Shaku 346

Pt. VI The Autobiography of Soyen Shaku: Translated and with Comments Nyogen Senzaki Senzaki, Nyogen 347

Pt. VII Correspondence 363

To Soyen Shaku, December 25, 189? 365

To Soyen Shaku, March 21, 1905 378

The Purpose of Establishing Tozen Zenkutsu, April 8, 1931 382

Article and Related Letters to the Editor, Second General Conference of Pan-Pacific Young Buddhist Associations, 1934 384

Exchange with Myra A. Stall, July 11 and 16, 1956 402

Newly Translated Correspondence 404

Notes 407

Bibliography 411

Index 413

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