Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings on the Practice of Zen Koan Introspection


The Zen tradition has just two main meditative practices: shikantaza, or "just sitting"; and introspection guided by the powerful Zen teaching stories called koans. ...

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Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings on Zen Koan Introspection

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The Zen tradition has just two main meditative practices: shikantaza, or "just sitting"; and introspection guided by the powerful Zen teaching stories called koans. Following in the tradition of The Art of Just Sitting (endorsed as a "A book we have needed for a long, long time"), this new anthology from John Daido Loori illuminates the subtle practice of koan study from many different points of view.

Includes writings by:

  • Robert Aitken
  • William Bodiford
  • Robert Buswell
  • Roko Sherry Chayat
  • Francis Dojun Cook
  • Eihei Dogen
  • Heinrich Dumoulin
  • Hakuin Ekaku
  • Victor Sogen Hori
  • Keizan Jokin
  • Philip Kapleau
  • Chung-fen Ming-Pen
  • Taizan Maezumi
  • Dennis Genpo Merzel
  • Soen Nakagawa
  • Ruth Fuller Sasaki
  • Sokei-an Sasaki
  • Nyogen Senzaki
  • Zenkei Shibayama
  • Eido Shimano
  • Philip Yampolsky
  • Hakuun Yasutani
  • Wayne Yokoyama
  • Katsushiro Yoshizawa
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Editorial Reviews

from the foreword by Thomas Yuho Kirchner
"Sitting with Koans provides an excellent start toward such understanding, offering the reader—whether veteran meditator, inquiring novice, or simply interested observer—a careful and well-organized presentation of classic and modern source materials on many aspects of traditional koan work."
Gerry Shishin Wick
"Roshi Daido Loori has provided us with a valuable tool for appreciating the living tradition of koan study."
Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly
"A handy compendium of some of the most important writings on the topic by scholars and Zen masters."
Professor Steven Heine
"This is a remarkable collection of essays and sermons by eminent scholars and leading Zen masters covering a full range of historical materials and diverse approaches in the formation of koan studies in China and Japan, as well as commentary on numerous specific cases. One volume brilliantly put together by a premier modern interpreter of koans, John Daido Loori, illuminates both issues of historical development and the discovery of contemporary meaning and application in religious practice."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861713691
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 2/9/2006
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Daido Loori was, until his death in 2009, the spiritual leader and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York. Trained in koan Zen as well as in the subtle school of Master Dogen's Zen, he was the Dharma heir of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi. Devoted to maintaining authentic Zen training, he developed a distinctive style, called the Eight Gates of Zen, based on the noble eightfold path. Drawing on his background as scientist, artist, naturalist, and Zen priest, Abbot Loori was an American master who spoke directly to students from the perspective of a common background. His books include Mountain Record of Zen Talks and The Heart of Being.

Thomas Yuho Kirchner was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1949. He went to Japan in 1969 to attend Waseda University in Tokyo for a year, after which he remained in Japan to study Buddhism. He spent three years training under Yamada Mumon as a lay monk at Shofuku-ji before receiving ordination in 1974. Following ordination he practiced under Minato Sodo Roshi at Kencho-ji in Kamakura and Kennin-ji in Kyoto. Following graduate studies in Buddhism at Otani University he worked at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya and subsequently at the Hanazono University International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism. He presently lives at Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Among his publications are the Record of Linji, Dialogues in a Dream, and Entangling Vines.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : the anatomy of the Zen Koan 1
1 The definition of a Koan 13
2 The song period : a time of maturation 17
3 Five houses of zen 41
4 The "short-cut" approach of K'an-hua meditation 75
5 Koan practice 91
6 The nature of the Rinzai (Linji) Koan practice 117
7 The steps of Koan practice 1312
8 Dogen and Koans 1512
9 Keizan, Koans, and succession in the Soto school 1632
10 Ancestor Dajian Huineng 1752
11 Hakuin Ekaku and the modern Koan system 1852
12 Orategama Zokushu 1912
13 The voice of the sound of one hand 2112
14 Ninth Koan 2312
15 Prajnatara recites his sutra 2372
16 Passover Teisho 2412
17 Nansen (Nanquan) kills a cat 2532
18 Commentary on the Koan "Mu" 2612
19 Roso (Luzu) faces the wall 2732
20 The record of master Rinzai (Linji) 28721
21 Bodhidharma's emptiness 29521
22 Think neither good nor evil 30321
23 A buffalo passes through a window 31321
24 Moshan's nature of the summit mountain 32121
25 Everybody's light 331
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