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Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn

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Overview

A major figure in the transmission of Zen to the West, Zen Master Seung Sahn was known for his powerful teaching style, which was direct, surprising, and often humorous. He taught that Zen is not about achieving a goal, but about acting spontaneously from “don’t-know mind.” It is from this “before-thinking” nature, he taught, that true compassion and the desire to serve others naturally arises. This collection of teaching stories, talks, and spontaneous dialogues with students offers readers a fresh and immediate...

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Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn

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Overview

A major figure in the transmission of Zen to the West, Zen Master Seung Sahn was known for his powerful teaching style, which was direct, surprising, and often humorous. He taught that Zen is not about achieving a goal, but about acting spontaneously from “don’t-know mind.” It is from this “before-thinking” nature, he taught, that true compassion and the desire to serve others naturally arises. This collection of teaching stories, talks, and spontaneous dialogues with students offers readers a fresh and immediate encounter with one of the great Zen masters of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Now that Soen Sa Nim [Zen Master Seung Sahn] is gone, we have only the stories, and, thankfully, books such as this one, to help bring him alive to those who never had a chance to encounter him in the flesh. In these pages, if you linger in them long enough, and let them soak into you, you will indeed meet him in his inimitable suchness, and perhaps much more important, as would have been his hope, you will meet yourself.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses

“Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teachings will always bring great light into the world. His extraordinary wit, intelligence, courage, and compassion are brought to us in this wonderful and important book. Thousands of students have benefited from his great understanding. Now more will come to know the heart of this rare and profound human being.”—Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

Publishers Weekly
The late Korean Zen Buddhist master Seung Sahn, who died in 2004, came from the "kill the Buddha" school of Buddhism that relishes paradox and shrewd foolishness. The playfulness of this teacher's challenges to his pupils is clearly conveyed in this compilation of short exchanges with students. These are dharma (teaching) encounters rather than the lengthier talks found in many teachers' books. When Seung Sahn is not teaching students that one plus two equals zero, he is sharply banging his Zen stick on the floor to remind them to stop thinking, or talking, in order to understand. These short pieces nicely communicate a forceful style, and they are almost philosophical for someone who reiterates the shortcomings of an intellectual understanding of things. "Primary point" is a term the master uses to explain something like an absolute, except that Buddhism constructs no absolutes. Some biographical material, including a letter the Zen Master wrote to former South Korean dictator Gen. Chun Du-Hwan, provides helpful context. Seung Sahn's students in the Kwan Um School will especially prize this collection, and its easy-to-read format should also pique the interest of students of other Zen masters. (Aug. 8) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590303405
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927–2004) was the first teacher to bring Korean Zen Buddhism to America, having already established temples in Japan and Hong Kong. In 1972 he came to the United States and started what became the Providence Zen Center, the first center in what is now the Kwan Um School of Zen, which now includes more than eighty centers and groups worldwide. His students called him Dae Soen Sa Nim, "Great Honored Zen Teacher," and he was the 78th Zen master in his line of dharma transmission in the Chogye order of Korean Buddhism. His books include The Compass of Zen, Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, Only Don't Know, and The Whole World Is a Single Flower: 365 Kong-ans for Everyday Life.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Seung Sahn is influential in teaching Buddhism to many, includin

    Seung Sahn is influential in teaching Buddhism to many, including me. This book is an essential in understanding the Zen way of thinking. Letting go  is the only way to find what you let go of.

    -Jim

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