Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master / Edition 1

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Overview

Revered by Buddhists in the United States and China, Master Sheng-yen shares his wisdom and teachings in this first comprehensive English primer of Chan, the Chinese tradition of Buddhism that inspired Japanese Zen. Often misunderstood as a system of mind games, the Chan path leads to enlightenment through apparent contradiction. While demanding the mental and physical discipline of traditional Buddhist doctrine, it asserts that wisdom (Buddha-nature) is innate and immediate in all living beings, and thus not to be achieved through devotion to the strictures of religious practice. You arrive without departing.

Master Sheng-yen provides an unprecedented understanding of Chan, its precepts, and its practice. Beginning with a basic overview of Buddhism and meditation, Hoofprint of the Ox details the progressive mental exercises traditionally followed by all Buddhists. Known as the Three Disciplines, these procedures develop moral purity, meditative concentration, and enlightening insight through the "stilling" of the mind. Master Sheng-yen then expounds Chan Buddhism, recounting its centuries-old history in China and illuminating its fundamental tenets. He contemplates the nature of Buddhahood, specifies the physical and mental prerequisites for beginning Chan practice, and humbly considers what it means to be an enlightened Chan master.

Drawing its title from a famous series of pictures that symbolizes the Chan path as the search of an ox-herd for his wayward ox, Hoofprint of the Ox is an inspirational guide to self-discovery through mental transformation. A profound contribution to Western understanding of Chan and Zen, this book is intended for practicing Buddhists as well as anyone interested in learning about the Buddhist path.

About the Author:
Master Sheng-yen is an expatriate monk from mainland China who has been teaching in Taiwan and the United States for over two decades. He is the author of numerous popular and academic works, including Subtle Wisdom: Understanding Suffering, Cultivating Compassion through Ch'an Buddhism (1999) and Complete Enlightenment: Translation and Commentary on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment (1997). He leads Dharma Drum Mountain, one of the three largest Buddhist organizations in Taiwan.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Master Sheng-yen, author of Subtle Wisdom and the head of monasteries in both Taiwan and the United States, has written another inspiring introduction to the Chan Buddhist tradition of China, more familiar to Americans as Zen, its incarnation in Japan. Eastern religion bookshelves these days are crowded with Zen primers and collections of sermons by eminent monks or nuns, but Sheng-yen's work stands out, bridging the two genres in a way that has been much needed. Buddhist sermons by Asian masters, when transplanted to American soil, can be misinterpreted by an audience lacking the cultural context for deeper understanding, leading to disillusionment with the institutional practice of Chan/Zen Buddhism. Sheng-yen, having taught in America for many years, is well aware of this and places Chan meditation in the larger Buddhist picture, showing its basis in history and morality. He explains the relationship between actual practice and the ideals expressed in sermons and in the paradoxical stories of early masters in such a way that a beginning student of Chan/Zen can then read the sermons with a deeper understanding of their relevance to his or her life. Aided by a masterful introduction by well-known scholar Dan Stevenson, this work brings introductory books on Chan/Zen to a new level of sophistication, accuracy and relevance to both the more advanced and the novice American practitioner. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Most Western students recognize Chan Buddhism as the immediate, though extinct, predecessor of Japanese Zen, but in this illuminating treatise readers will discover a Chan practice that is marvelously alive. A native of mainland China, Master Sheng-yen has taught about his path to peace and enlightenment in both the United States and Taiwan. In remarkably clear prose, Stevenson mines the master's classes and retreats to present a systematic overview of Sheng-yen's Chan, from the rudiments of mediation through vain descriptions of ineffable enlightenment. Those attracted to an Americanized Zen seemingly divorced from classical Buddhist teaching will be surprised to discover a Chan path emphasizing the absolute necessity of discipline, commitment, and moral purity. A very special book; highly recommended for academic and public libraries.--James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195152487
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,082,753
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Master Sheng-yen is an expatriate monk from mainland China who has been teaching in Taiwan and the United States for over two decades. He is the author of numerous popular and academic works, including Subtle Wisdom: Understanding Suffering, Cultivating Compassion through Ch'an Buddhism (1999) and Complete Enlightenment: Translation and Commentary on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment (1997). He leads Dharma Drum Mountain, one of the three largest Buddhist organizations in Taiwan.

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