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Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation Paperback – April 27, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good selection of Dogen. I probably didn't need this in my collection, as I have many of the primary texts. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Capt. Jack
Recently got into Buddhist thinking after really getting into The Power of Now, and this book is seriously mind blowing. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Kirsten T
Difficult to read but worth the effort.
Dogen is a brilliant zen master and his thoughts are quite deep and provoking. Read more
Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) is considered the founder of the Soto School of Zen Buddhism in Japan, renowned for "just sitting" meditation. Read morePublished on January 8, 2013 by Autonomeus
GOOD BOOK. EVAN THOUGH IT GETS TO DEEP FOR ME BUT I ENJOYED AND UNDERSTOOD A LOT OF IT. AND HAVE SOMPTHING TO REREAD AND WORK ON. GOOD ZEN, JUST BE.Published on December 24, 2007 by Daniel Shellenbarger
The book is nicely organized and contains a lot of good information, but reading it is just too painful for me. Read morePublished on June 3, 2007 by Colin Stahl