The Garden of Flowers and Weeds: A New Translation and Commentary on The Blue Cliff Record

The Garden of Flowers and Weeds: A New Translation and Commentary on The Blue Cliff Record

by Matthew Juksan Sullivan
The Garden of Flowers and Weeds: A New Translation and Commentary on The Blue Cliff Record

The Garden of Flowers and Weeds: A New Translation and Commentary on The Blue Cliff Record

by Matthew Juksan Sullivan


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International Book Awards—Religion: Eastern | Top Award
AmericanBookFest's Best Book Awards Winner | Religion: Eastern
Nautilus Award | Gold
Benjamin Franklin Award | Silver
Independent Book Publisher's Award | Bronze
Named One of the Best Books of 2021 Spirituality and Practice Magazine

“An intriguing, challenging crash course in Zen Buddhism.” — Kirkus Reviews

"A generation-defining rendering of one of the great Zen Buddhist scriptures." — Spirituality and Practice

For centuries, The Blue Cliff Record has stood as one of the preeminent scriptures of the Zen Buddhist tradition in China, Japan, and Korea. However, until now there has been no published commentary by a contemporary Zen Master to assist readers in understanding its counterintuitive and sometimes baffling teachings.

The Garden of Flowers and Weeds draws on contemporary scholarship and the author’s extensive experience with Zen in order to offer new insights for sophisticated students who are hoping to uncover the secrets of the koan tradition. At the same time, The Garden is jargon-free and uses personal stories to appeal to readers who are new to Buddhism. The theme of the book is simple: Accepting the unenlightened self with all its flaws is the most profound form of enlightenment.

Even with this clarity, finding a path into these old Zen stories is a challenge. They are designed to be roadblocks to intellectual understanding. Using personal memoire, the oral teachings of Zen, and meditation instruction, The Garden assists the reader in approaching the dialogues as spiritual exercises. The Blue Cliff Record contains an explosive power, but you can only access it by integrating its wisdom into your everyday experiences. As Zen Master Nanquan said, “Ordinary mind is the Way.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948626491
Publisher: Monkfish Book Publishing Company
Publication date: 11/16/2021
Pages: 580
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Matthew Juksan Sullivan was ordained at the Nine Mountains Zen Gate Society as a Dharma Teacher in 2006 and a Zen Master in 2013. He is a dharma heir of Hwasun Yangil Sunim, who was a dharma heir of Wol Ha Sunim, a Grand Zen Master and the former Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Notes on the Text xlv

Acknowledgments xlix

Pronunciation Guide liii

The one hundred cases with commentary and notes

1st Case: The Emperor Asks Bodhidharma 3

2nd Case: Zhaozhou's Ultimate Path 9

3rd Case: Great Master Ma Is Ill 13

4th Case: Deshan Carries His Pack 17

5th Case: Xuefeng Calls Out the Search Party 22

6th Case: Yunmen's "Every Day Is a Good Day" 26

7th Case: Huichao Inquires About the Buddha 29

8th Case: Cuiyan's Eyebrows 33

9th Case: The Gates of Zhaozhou 37

10th Case: Four Shouts for Muzhou 40

11th Case: Huangbo's Dreg-Swilling Bozos 43

12th Case: Dongshan's Three Pounds of Flax 47

13th Case: Baling's Silver Bowl 50

14th Case: Yunmen's Appropriate Statement 55

15th Case: Yunmen's Upside-Down Statement 59

16th Case: Jingqing Pecks the Egg 62

17th Case: Sitting with Xianglin 67

18th Case: The National Teacher's Seamless Monument 71

19th Case: Juzhi Raises One Finger 76

20th Case: Longya Asks Around 78

21st Case: The Lotus of Zhimen 82

22nd Case: Xuefeng's Turtle-Nosed Snake 85

23rd Case: Baofu and Changqing Find the Mystic Peak 89

24th Case: The Grinder Walks Away 94

25th Case: The Hermit of Lotus Flower Peak Answers Himself 98

26th Case: Baizhang's Wonderful Affair 102

27th Case: Yunmen's Golden Wind 106

28th Case: The Nirvana Master Explains It to Death 110

29th Case: Dasui's World-Ending Fire 115

30th Case: Zhaozhou's Big Radishes 120

31st Case: Magu Shakes His Staff 124

32nd Case: An Audience with Linji 128

33rd Case: Zifu Draws a Circle 132

34th Case: Yangshan Descends into the Weeds 137

35th Case: The Dialogue of Mañjusri and Wuzhao 141

36th Case: Changsha Returns to the Temple 147

37th Case: Panshan's Triple World 151

38th Case: Fengxue's Iron Ox 155

39th Case: Yunmen's Golden-Haired Lion 160

40th Case: Nanquan Points to a Flower 165

41st Case: Touzi's Great Death 170

42nd Case: Layman Pang's Perfect Snowflake 175

43rd Case: Dongshan's Heat and Cold 179

44th Case: Heshan Beats the Drum 183

45th Case: Zhaozhou's Canvas Jacket 189

46th Case: Jingqing Hears Raindrops 193

47th Case: Yunmen's Body of Reality 200

48th Case: Tea at Zhaoqing Temple 204

49th Case: Xuefeng's Gold-Scaled Fish 209

50th Case: Yunmen's Bowl and Bucket 212

51st Case: Yantou's Last Word 216

52nd Case: The Bridge of Zhaozhou 222

53rd Case: Baizhang's Wild Ducks 227

54th Case: Yunmen and the Monk Stretch Their Hands 231

55th Case: Daowu Won't Say 235

56th Case: Qinshan and the Arrow 243

57th Case: Zhaozhou Alone Is Honored 249

58th Case: Zhaozhou Doesn't Have an Answer 254

59th Case: Zhaozhou Quotes the Whole Saying 258

60th Case: Yunmen's Staff Became a Dragon 263

61st Case: Fengxue's Speck of Dust 267

62nd Case: Yunmen's Hidden Gem 273

63rd Case: Nanquan Killed the Cat 278

64th Case: Zhaozhou Walks Away 284

65th Case: A Hindu Man Questions the Buddha 288

66th Case: A Monk Gets Huang Chao's Sword 293

67th Case: Mahasattva Fu Explains the Diamond Sutra 299

68th Case: Yangshan Burst Out Laughing 305

69th Case: Nanquan Stops Halfway 310

70th Case: Baizhang Fears for His Heirs 315

71st Case: Baizhang Searches the Distance 319

72nd Case: Baizhang Is Bereft 326

73rd Case: Great Master Ma's Permutations of Assertion and Denial 331

74th Case: Jinniu Breaks into a Dance 336

75th Case: Wujiu's Unjust Beating 343

76th Case: Changqing and Baofu Discuss Donations 349

77th Case: Yunmen's Cake 354

78th Case: Sixteen Bodhisattvas Enter the Bathhouse 359

79th Case: Touzi and the Buddha's Voice 364

80th Case: Zhaozhou's Newborn 368

81st Case: Yaoshan's Elk of Elks 371

82nd Case: Dalong's Flowers on the Hillside 375

83rd Case: Yunmen's Exposed Pillar 380

84th Case: Vimalakirti's Dharma Gate of Nonduality 385

85th Case: The Hermit of Paulownia Tree Peak Receives a Visitor 390

86th Case: Yunmen and the Radiance Within 394

87th Case: Yunmen's Medicine and Disease 401

88th Case: Xuansha's Ailments 405

89th Case: Daowu and the Person Reaching for a Pillow 411

90th Case: The Wisdom of Zhimen 416

91st Case: Yanguan's Rhinoceros Fan 421

92nd Case: The World-Honored One Ascends the Podium 425

93rd Case: Daguang Breaks into a Dance 429

94th Case: The Surangama Sutra's Not-Seeing 434

95th Case: Changqing Lectures with a Spare Head 438

96th Case: Zhaozhou's Turning Phrases 443

97th Case: The Diamond Sutra's Crimes of Past Lives 449

98th Case: Master Tianping on Pilgrimage 454

99th Case: The National Teacher Answers the Emperor 459

100th Case: Baling's Blown Feather Sword 464

Appendix A How to Meditate 471

Appendix B Name Conversion from Pinyin to Wade-Giles 477

Appendix C Lineage Charts of Teachers in The Blue Cliff Record 481

Bibliography 485

Glossary 497

Index 515

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“These commentaries are original, authentic and insightful; a valuable addition to what is so far available. I appreciated the direct, personal and emotionally honest voice. No speaking gnomically from on high! The Garden of Flowers and Weeds will fill a major gap in what’s available to students." —Barry Magid, founding teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo and author of Nothing Is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans

“With its concise but highly informative and illuminative historical comments and contemporary reflections on the koans, in addition to a useful introductory essay, this book will be of great interest to all teachers and practitioners of Zen who wish to learn more about the classic writings, regardless of their particular style of training.” —Prof. Steven Heine, author of Chan Rhetoric of Uncertainty in the Blue Cliff Record: Sharpening the Sword at the Dragon's Gate

“A gift from a Korean Zen lineage, these Blue Cliff Record koans are succinctly rendered, pared down to gleaming white bones in life-giving commentaries. Through the clear eyes and deft hands of Zen Master Matthew Juksan Sullivan, you will meet yourself in koan after koan, each one challenging you to enter the portals of your very own life as only you can. The Zen Ancestors’ heart wisdom rendered here is a sharp blade, cutting through thick layers of self-absorption and propelling you into the immediacy of benefitting the lives around you.” —Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot Emeritus, Zen Center of Los Angeles, Co-author, The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up in the Land of Attachments

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