Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.81
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 76%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $5.81   
  • New (6) from $12.21   
  • Used (7) from $5.81   


Since Zen Buddhism first captivated the attention of Western seekers the dominant discourse about this sect has been romantic, idealistic, and utopian. The essence of Zen has been described as ineffable, holistic, and promoting social harmony. In recent years, however, some scholars have begun to examine Zen through the lenses of historical and cultural criticism, producing a sharp challenge to the traditional view. These clashing viewpoints are now entrenched in two warring camps, and their exponents talk past each other with virtually no constructive interaction. In this book, Steven Heine argues that a constructive compromise is possible. He focuses on three principal areas of disagreement: (1) the role of language and discourse in a tradition that claims to be 'outside words and letters,' yet has produced a voluminous body of texts, (2) the function of rituals and objects of worship to gain world benefit in a tradition supposedly founded on unmediated experience attained in an iconoclastic and ascetic environment, (3) the impact of a tradition that espouses peace and harmony on social issues such as class and gender discrimination and on nationalism and imperialism in Japan. Avoiding the stagnant polarization that characterizes most encounters between Zen traditionalists and their critics, he suggests ways in which these two perspectives can complement each other in a more balanced and nuanced alternative position.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As we enter the 21st century and western Zen Buddhism develops the roots and branches of its second and third generations, the time has come to reflect on what aspects of this ancient tradition we are importing. What are the Zen myths and realities we are disseminating throughout the West? Most importantly, does Zen address the moral and ethical issues unique to our time and place? Steven Heine is eminently qualified to crack open this Pandora's box and help us sort out the real from the apparent. With its critical reflection, deep investigation and outstanding scholarship, Zen Skin, Zen Marrow is a step in the process allowing Zen to take the shape of the container that holds it. This book belongs on the shelf of every Zen center in the West." —John Daido Loori, author of True Dharma Eye: Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans and Sitting with Koans

"This book provides a valuable and insightful effort to clarify the conflict between two competing streams of Zen scholarship: the Traditional Zen Narrative and Historical and Cultural Criticism. Steven Heine is among the world's leading scholars of Rinzai and Soto Zen, and this latest work will make an extremely valuable contribution to such fields as Zen/Chan studies, East Asian Buddhism, comparative mysticism, and other related areas." —Steve Odin, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa

"This book makes an extremely valuable contribution to Zen studies, general Buddhist studies, and comparative studies of mysticism. ...Highly recommended." —Choice

"For the scholarly community, Heine's work contributes to the possibility of healing within the field of Zen studies...Only a scholar of Heine's stature in the field could offer such an invitation." —Journal of Japanese Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195326772
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Heine, Professor and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University, is an authority on Japanese religion and society, especially the history of Zen Buddhism and its relation to culture in China and Japan. He has published over a dozen books, including Zen Classics and Zen Ritual, coedited with Dale S. Wright.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Fore Play: The Relativity of Truth and Uncertainty of Method     3
Zen Writes: Fun and Games with Words and Letters     37
Zen Rites: The Eclipse of Buddha     73
Zen Rights: A Series of (Un)fortunate Social Events     115
Epilogue. The Real Zen Buddhism: Engaged, Enraged, or Disengaged?     155
Notes     173
Bibliography     201
Index     213
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)