Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters / Edition 1

Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters / Edition 1

by Steven Heine
     
 

With the growing popularity of Zen Buddhism in the West, virtually everyone knows, or thinks they know, what a koan is: a brief and baffling question or statement that cannot be solved by the logical mind and which, after sustained concentration, can lead to sudden enlightenment. But the truth about koans is both simpler—and more complicated—than this

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Overview

With the growing popularity of Zen Buddhism in the West, virtually everyone knows, or thinks they know, what a koan is: a brief and baffling question or statement that cannot be solved by the logical mind and which, after sustained concentration, can lead to sudden enlightenment. But the truth about koans is both simpler—and more complicated—than this.
In Opening a Mountain, Steven Heine shows that koans, and the questions we associate with them—such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"—are embedded in larger narratives and belong to an ancient Buddhist tradition of "encounter dialogues." These dialogues feature dramatic and often inscrutable contests between masters and disciples, or between masters and an array of natural and supernatural forces: rouge priests, "wild foxes," hermits, wizards, shapeshifters, magical animals, and dangerous women. To establish a new monastery, "to open a mountain," the Zen master had to tame these wild forces in regions most remote from civilization. In these extraordinary encounters, fingers and arms are cut off, pitchers are kicked over, masters appear in and interpret each other's dreams, and seemingly absurd statements are shown to reveal the deepest insights. Heine restores these koans to their original traditions, allowing readers to see both the complex elements of Chinese culture and religion that they reflect and the role they played in Zen's transformation of local superstitions into its own teachings.
Offering a fresh approach to one of the most crucial elements of Zen Buddhism, Opening a Mountain is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the full story behind koans and the mysterious worlds they come from.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195174342
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/26/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Sales rank:
1,161,846
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 5.60(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History at books on Zen Buddhism, including (with Dale S. Wright) The Koan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism (OUP). Dr. Heine was recently awarded the Kauffman Professorship in Entrepreneurship Studies at the Florida International University Business School.

Table of Contents

Sources
Preface
Introduction: What Are Koans?1
Sticks and Stones, but It's No-Names That Hurt1
The Mythological Background of Koan Literature13
Koan Themes and Sources25
On Reading Koans30
1Surveying Mountain Landscapes37
Northern and Ox Head Schools39
Southern School46
Tung-shan's Mountain58
Mount Wu-t'ai64
2Contesting with Irregular Rivals73
Hermits, Wizards, and Other Masters75
Dangerous Women: Zen "Grannies" and Nuns91
3Encountering Supernatural Forces101
Trance, Visions, and Dreams103
Spirits, Gods, and Bodhisattvas114
Magical Animals127
4Wielding Symbols of Authority and Transmission141
Symbols of Authority143
Transmission Symbols156
5Confessional Experiences: Giving Life and Controlling Death169
Repentance and Self-Mutilation171
Death, Relics, and Ghosts184
Zen Figures Cited197

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