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Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation Paperback – April 27, 2004


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Frequently Bought Together

Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation + Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen + The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590300246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590300244
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dogen (1200–1253) is known as the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen sect.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jason Clements on April 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book contains translated fascicles from Dogen Zenji's Shobogenzo, a massive and inscrutable philosophical work regarding the nature of life and reality.

Within are some of the most popular, influential, and profound selections of the Shobogenzo regarding zazen meditation practice, which can be everything from somewhat confusing to utterly nonsensical to anyone without a store of background knowledge in Zen Buddhism.

As a consequence, this book is best geared towards those who already have a significant understanding of the language and style of Zen. It is definitely not for someone who has never encountered Buddhist or Zen thought before.

That said, Dogen Zenji's philosophy is unsurpassed in its depth and influence in Japanese Zen and, to a large extent, Western Zen as well. The Shobogenzo, written in the 1200's, is still studied and revered today as one of the most brilliant works ever written regarding Buddhist philosophy and practice. Many Zen teachers have dedicated themselves exclusively to Dogen's thought.

This book, though it does not contain other seminal fascicles such as the Genjokoan, is a great resource to anyone interested in reading not second-hand explanations, but selected translations from one of the most famous teachers and reformers of Zen Buddhism.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Eihei Dôgen was the founder of the Sôtô School and surely the greatest figure in the history of Japanese Zen. His enormous "Shôbôgenzô" or "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye", is probably the greatest single work of Zen literature, the record of one of the most enlightened minds known to us. This book collects the sections related to meditation, with a few pieces on the same subject from elsewhere, though it's far from a straightforward "guide to meditation".

Some have criticised this book for being hard to understand. But why would you buy a book about things you understand already? The pieces intended for beginners are in the first section, "Entering Zazen." Go on from there. Don't think of this as a book to polish off quickly, but as a precious possession to accompany you through life, revealing more and more of itself.

When you're a child, you see scenes of grown-ups or teenagers kissing on TV or in the movies and you think, "Ew yuck, I'm never going to do that when I grow up." You haven't yet had the experiences that will make sense of this for you. The same with Dôgen-zenji. As your practice deepens, you will find that things you were mystified by become as clear as day. Maybe some things you'll never get to understand, but that's no problem: Dôgen's endless probing subtlety reflects the profundity of the way things are. Still, as other reviewers have said, this is Not a book for anyone with only a casual interest in Zen.

As in other books by this translator, the idiom is somewhat curious: but it's not easy turning fluid, intricate and elliptical Classical Japanese into modern English. I think a good balance has been struck between clarity and retaining the flavour of the original: I have seen far worse versions of some of these pieces. The texts, especially in the latter sections, are dense with references to Zen lore, but as in "Moon in a Dewdrop" a comprehensive glossary has been provided
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By grouchy on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is definitely an advanced book on practice. To learn meditation out of this book is not recommended --- the author lived in the 13th century. Reading this book gives insights, realizations, and wonderful ideas on the practice of meditation to those who have a grounding in the process.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lily Penny on April 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book "Beyond Thinking" is a collection of writings by the Zen Master Eihei Dogen that has been edited and pieced together by Kazuaki Tanahashi. The result is a book split into four sections teaching on "Entering Zazen", "Zazen Experience", "Zazen in Community", and "Zazen Through the Seasons". This book offers wisdom, guidance, and specific instructions on almost every aspect of sitting meditation. It is intended for just about any audience who is interested in Zazen, from practicing monks to new people who have never heard of the practice before. The book starts with instructions for sitting and some fairly basic explanation of the ideology behind it. This continues through the first two-thirds of the work into the "Zazen Experience" section, which delves deeper into teachings and ways of understanding Zazen. Starting in the "Zazen in Community" section, however, we see a change to a much more specific route of study. This section offers instructions for every action you would take while living in a monastic community, from times for sitting to how to properly use the restroom or wash your face. The last section is the shortest and gives a detail of the ceremonies and teachings connected to specific times of the year.

Due to the intense nature of its rules and regulations this book would be incredibly helpful for someone who is familiar with the approach and already practicing, but would cause confusion and possibly frustration for the casual or beginning reader. As this work is a composition of other writings, it essentially relies on the authority of Zen Master Dogen, from whom these teachings are taken.
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