Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals, 1969-1985


The author chronicles his quest for spiritual roots, describes his early Zen experiences and his gradual reawakening to life through Zen.

The author describes his early Zen experiences and his gradual reawakening to life through Zen.

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Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals 1969-1982

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The author chronicles his quest for spiritual roots, describes his early Zen experiences and his gradual reawakening to life through Zen.

The author describes his early Zen experiences and his gradual reawakening to life through Zen.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Matthiessen took his Himalaya trek, recreated in The Snow Leopard, he secretly hoped that a ``great clarity'' would emerge from his ordeal in the snowy mountains. A disciple of Zen Buddhism since 1970 when his wife introduced him to meditation, he plunged more deeply into Zen after her death. This moving, highly personal story attempts to convey the essence of the Zen experience as the journal shuttles between an account of modern Zen masters in America, details of the Buddha's life, lyrical introspection and poetic recollections of Nepal, Tibet, India and Japan. Matthiessen excells at detailed descriptions of inner mental states (``In zazen, one is one's present self, what one was, and what one will be, all at once''). Zen helps him to live in the present, unencumbered by regret of the past or daydreams of the future, and this intensely felt journal communicates his faith. The log concludes with Matthiessen's 1982 pilgrimage to Japan to visit his 75-year-old former teacher. (April 15)
Library Journal
The author of the best-selling The Snow Leopard tells here of his travels on the path of Zen. Quotes from his private journals from 1969 to 1982 are loosely linked together with a collection of Zen poems, stories, and teachings. The first half of the book uses dated passages to chronicle the beginnings of his interest in and struggles with Zen and vividly describes a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. The second half is mainly about a recent pilgrimage to Japan, and includes some fascinating thoughts on Japanese culture and history from a Zen perspective along with the author's spiritual experiences. The book is well written and full of memorable incidents and impressions of various important Zen teachers. This authentic account by a Western seeker is recommended for public libraries. C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., formerly with W. Lafayette, Ind.
From the Publisher
"Very few writers have the courage, inner experience, and literary technique to take us into the reaches of mystic awareness. Matthiessen has; his prose is among the finest of our time—at once sensual and austere, sinewy, yet full of warmth, eloquent yet reverent, polished clean by silence and awe. Nine-Headed Dragon River is a clear gift to us from a complex man who has schooled himself to speak of central things with a most honorable exactitude."—Andrew Harvey, Vogue

"Remarkable, memorable nonfiction. Matthiessen's prose is as strong and pure as ever."—Duncan Spencer, Washington Post

"Peter Matthiessen's book embodies the spirit of Zen in America."—Hakuyu T. Maezumi, Zen Center of Los Angeles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877734017
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/12/1987
  • Series: Dragon Editions Series
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

Peter Matthiessen, distinguished novelist, naturalist, journalist, and explorer, was born in New York City and has been a commercial fisherman and charterboat captain. He participated as a diver in the worldwide search for the great white shark that culminated in his book Blue Meridian and in the film Blue Water, White Death. His fiction includes Race Rock; Partisans; Raditzer; At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which was nominated for a National Book Award; and most recently Far Tortuga. His nonfiction includes The Tree Where Man Was Born, which was nominated for a National Book Award, The Snow Leopard, which won a National Book Award in 1979, and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2002

    Interesting spiritual life & van de Wetering unfair

    This is an interesting autobiographical account of Matthiessen's quest for spiritual understanding of Zen Buddhist practice, which led him to lead a Zen Buddhist life. Maybe van de Wetering has all the answers he needs in life; however, for a skeptical/spiritual inquirer or devoted Zen Buddhist, this book helps one get in touch with one's spiritual side. Even if Zen Buddhism isn't your bag, it's interesting to see how someone else attends to their spirit. (Only drawback: The narrative is slow at times, BUT the writing is picturesque and poetic.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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