Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans Paperback – May 25, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Of great practical benefit in opening our moment by moment hearts to the practice of loving kindness, this book is also a wonderful inspiration for sitting, and a treasured guide to effortless effort on the cushion.
I recommend this boook to all serious koan students.
The simplest koans ground your thought: the sky is the sky, the mountain is the mountain.
Intermediate level koans strip away conventions (like naming): the sky is the mountain, the mountain is the sky.
The most provocative koans point to a greater understanding of the four aspects of the Zen universe (existence, nonexistence, both existence and nonexistence, and neither existence nor nonexistence): there is no sky or mountain, you are a blade of grass.
The author of Elegant Failure takes up the challenge of explaining more than twenty classic koans -- classic referring to koans tormenting students since at least the 13th century, with names like Yen-kuan's Rhinoceros Fan, San-sheng`s Golden Fish Who Has Passed Through the Net, and Tung-shan's Three Pounds of Flax.
He presents each koan, breaks down its historical relevance and then attempts to unravel its meaning. Many of the koans, as he explains, rely upon the reader to understand idioms of the Chinese language. Take, for example, Yen-kuan's Rhinoceros Fan. An English speaking reader wrestling with the koan would not likely know that Rhinoceros is interchangeable with the word "ox" and that the word ox is an allusion to the mind. Likewise, "fan" refers to permeation or sometimes(!) complications and "broken" refers to an enlightened experience.
Reading the book, I came away more frustrated with and allergic to koans than ever.Read more ›
I certainly belong to that category of folks for whom koans have remained relatively obscure. Wu-Men himself, the compiler of the Wu-men-kuan, spent some six years of his life struggling with Joshu's MU. Some koans come very easily to us and others will elude us for years, perhaps an entire lifetime. Something Shrobe does masterfully in this work is found in his ability to make these ancient cases applicable and accessible by we the modern, Western reader. Were kong-ans bound by space and time they would have no relevance to us in our current practice. The commentaries which he provides us with offer wonderful insights in to the sometimes multi-layered facets of these enlightened exchanges, done in a manner that does not in any way spoonfeed the reader or `answer' what only we ourselves can find manifest in our lives, anyway.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a difficult topic to write about and the author does the subject a decent job. His title shows that he appreciates the task at hand, and knows what koans are.Published 21 months ago by Dennis E. Donham
I am a 15 year Zen student and tend to not read books anymore. A sangha member recommedned it to me, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and approach to... Read morePublished on January 11, 2013 by Anne V. Weisbrod
If you only have time to read one book on Koans (kong-ans) this is it! The writing is clear, funny and very insightful. Read morePublished on March 21, 2011 by shoki