Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry

Overview

Whether speaking of student or master, Zen hinges on the question. Zen practice does not necessarily focus on the answers, but on finding a space in which we may sustain uncertainty and remain present and upright in the middle of investigations. Zen Questions begins by exploring "The World of Zazen,"—the foundational practice of the Zen school—presenting it as an attitude of sustained inquiry that offers us an entryway into true repose and joy. From there, Leighton draws deeply on his own experience as a Zen ...

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Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry

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Overview

Whether speaking of student or master, Zen hinges on the question. Zen practice does not necessarily focus on the answers, but on finding a space in which we may sustain uncertainty and remain present and upright in the middle of investigations. Zen Questions begins by exploring "The World of Zazen,"—the foundational practice of the Zen school—presenting it as an attitude of sustained inquiry that offers us an entryway into true repose and joy. From there, Leighton draws deeply on his own experience as a Zen scholar and teacher to invite us into the creativity of Zen awareness and practice. He explores the poetic mind of Dogen with the poetry of Rumi, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, and even "the American Dharma Bard" Bob Dylan. What's more, Leighton uncovers surprising resonances between the writings of America's Founding Fathers—including Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin—and the liberating ideals at the heart of Zen.

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Editorial Reviews

Jane Hirshfield
"Zen Questions equally introduces and expands our American understanding of Buddhist teachings, and of the many possibilities in navigating our own lives." —
Roshi Joan Halifax
"This is a wise and inspiring book."
Susan Moon
"Taigen Leighton is full of compassion for the reader, whether a beginning or experienced practitioner."
Christopher Ives
"Leighton offers his readers an impressive array of insights into Soto Zen meditation practice."
Peter Coyote (HoSho JiShi
"Clear, accurate and eminently useful."
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
"These delightful essays take us another step down the long lonesome road toward naturalizing dharma into our own cultural matrix."
James Ishmael Ford
"This is an incredibly valuable book, useful for anyone who wishes to integrate their heart-work with work in the world."
David Chadwick
"Taigen Dan Leighton has done his homework, digs deep, and comes up with treasure."
Steven Heine
"Brilliant text."
Lewis Richmond
"Unique and scintillating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cherishes the illumination of wisdom both ancient and modern."
From the Publisher

Zen Questions equally introduces and expands our American understanding of Buddhist teachings, and of the many possibilities in navigating our own lives.” —Jane Hirshfield

"This is a wise and inspiring book."—Roshi Joan Halifax, author of Being with Dying

"Taigen Leighton is full of compassion for the reader, whether a beginning or experienced practitioner."—Susan Moon, author of Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism

"Leighton offers his readers an impressive array of insights into Soto Zen meditation practice."—Christopher Ives, author of Imperial-Way Zen

"Clear, accurate and eminently useful."—Peter Coyote (HoSho JiShi, ordination name), actor and author.

"These delightful essays take us another step down the long lonesome road toward naturalizing dharma into our own cultural matrix."—Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Sailing Home

“This is an incredibly valuable book, useful for anyone who wishes to integrate their heart-work with work in the world.”—James Ishmael Ford, author of Zen Master WHO? co-editor of The Book of Mu

"Taigen Dan Leighton has done his homework, digs deep, and comes up with treasure." —David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

“Brilliant text.”
—Steven Heine, author of Did Dogen Go to China

“Unique and scintillating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cherishes the illumination of wisdom both ancient and modern.” —Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861716456
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 607,586
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Taigen Dan Leighton, Soto Zen priest and successor in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, received Dharma Transmission in 2000 from Reb Anderson Roshi and is Dharma Teacher at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago. After residing for years at San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara monastery, Taigen also practiced for two years in Kyoto, Japan. Taigen is author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry, Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, and Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra. He has edited and co-translated several Zen texts including: Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of Eihei Koroku, Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi, Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community, and The Wholehearted Way, and has contributed to many other books and journals. Taigen teaches online at Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, from where he has a PhD. He has taught at other universities including Saint Mary's College, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and in Chicago at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary and Loyola University Chicago. Taigen has long been active in social justice programs, including Peace and Environmental Activism.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part 1 The World of Zazen

Zazen as Inquiry 3

Zazen Mind and Transformative Function 13

Hongzhi, Dogen, and the Background of Shikan Taza 25

Zazen as Enactment Ritual 35

The Gateway to Repose and Joy 49

Part 2 Reflections on Eihei Dogen

Reflections on Translating Dogen 61

The Practice of Genjokoan 67

Practicing the Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas 75

Expressing the Dream within the Dream 89

Zen Rule-Bending and the Training for Pure Hearts 99

Part 3 Commentaries on Dogen's Extensive Record

Speak Softly, Speak Softly 111

Dogen's Five-Part Approach to Zazen 125

Almost Not Confused by Self 135

Readying the Ox 143

Dropping Body-Mind, and the Pregnant Temple Pillars 155

Practice-Realization-Expression 165

Part 4 Zen Expressions

Rumi's Words of Love 179

Bob Dylan's Visions of Zen Mind 189

Making Yourself into a Light 203

Gary Snyder and Wild Practice 213

Part 5 American Zen Engagement

Liberation and Eternal Vigilance 223

Consumerism and the Bodhisattva Precepts 233

Meeting Our Ancestors of the Future 243

Collective Karma and Systemic Responses to Climate Disruption 255

Enlightened Patriotism and Right Livelihood 261

Chapter Sources 267

Endnotes 271

Index 283

About the Author 287

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 22, 2011

    A Superlative Expression of Dogen and Zen from one of the finest translators!

    In this superb collection of essays, Taigen Dan Leighton gives us the culmination so far of his years of intensive study and translation of Zen texts, especially those of Dogen Zen-ji, founder of Soto Zen in Japan. His essays range from the central importance and method of "sitting upright" known as zazen, or shikantaza, to the implications of Zen practice for American issues today. He relates much of Zen practice to Rumi, Bob Dylan and Gary Snyder, providing connections to ecology, psychology and politics. His writing is mellifluous yet penetratingly clear. This is a book that every English-speaking person interested in Zen should read.

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