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To Meet the Real Dragon 4th Revised ed. Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0956299901
ISBN-10: 0956299903
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nishijima is a Japanese Zen priest and the author of several books in Japanese and English. He has also been a notable translator of Buddhist texts: working with Chodo Cross, Nishijima compiled one of the three complete English versions of Dogen's 95-fascicle Kana Shobogenzo, based on his 13-volume modern Japanese translation and commentary, and often considered as the most exact.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Dogen Sangha Publications; 4th Revised ed. edition (August 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956299903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956299901
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I felt moved after reading this book to add to the positive reviews that it has received. Having assembled a nice little library of books on Buddhism over the years certainly doesn't make me an expert but it does put me in a position to share my reaction to this book and why it stands out from many others I have read. I have never come across a presentation of Buddhism as clear and useful as the one contained within this book. This is a book that presents Buddhism in a logical, systematic way and I find myself returning to it again and again.
Gudo Nishijima is a Zen master who has held a full time job in a Japanese company for many years. This fact impresses me in that I am able to relate to him better than other teachers who have spent the majority of their time in cloistered monastic environs. Not meant as a knock on monastic Buddhism which has its role to play for sure, but it is refreshing to know that this teacher knows what it's like to grind it out in the modern rat race with the rest of us. He also has an impressive knowledge of western philosophy and history that he uses to great effect to clarify the presentation of Buddhism here. His appreciation for science is very refreshing as well.
This is not a book that I would recommend to someone who is looking for an orthodox academic presentation of Buddhism that might be used as a textbook for a class, that would be "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula. This book deconstructs Buddhism down to its essence and presents it logically without all the obscurity and "long windedness" found in many other books. This is one you can really take something from, it has inspired me to stop just reading about Zen and actually start practicing on daily basis.
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In case you don't know, Gudo Nishijima is an authority on many of the greatest teachings of Zen, having translated the collection of master Dogen's teachings called the Shobogenzo. If you have read many books on Zen and have gotten tired of seeing what looks like remarkably similar presentations over and over again, then I encourage to read this book. Gudo Nishijima presents a somewhat different perspective and offers us the opportunity to look at the same ultimate reality that all the other Zen books point to from a different angle. I often find this to be very valuable, especially with regard to religion, philosopy, and Zen. While he does not diverge from the teachings of the ancestors in terms of the Dharma he is teaching, I find his approach to be in some ways more accessible to modern readers, while remaining true to the essence of Zen.
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I have been a Zen practitioner for over 50 years and this is far and away the best basic book on Zen and the only one that a serious Zen person needs to read. I can't recommend it more highly. I wish that I had discovered it sooner. The essence of Zen is Zazen and the patriarch of Zazen is Dogen. Nishijima is a great translator and interpreter of Dogen. No nonsense, just sit. Don't talk, sit.
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What a revolutionary way to establish the difference between an intellectual search for the truth and real Buddhism. I have recommended this book to the rest of my Sangha since it clearly makes the point to drop thinking and ideallizing and finally take action. Practicing Zazen is action. Be a warrior, be brave enough to meet the true dragon. The Dragon legend will be the inspiration you need for your practice. Just as the Buddha Gautama, Bodhidharma and Master Dogen did, sit facing a wall and practice Zazen!
Gassho.
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This book is incredible. This book has taken Buddhism and provided a logical framework that motivates one to just sit.

Sitting is the core of Buddhism and this book is the written expression of this most excellent Master's lifetime of practice.
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This book and along with Kosho Uchiyama's "Opening the Hand of Thought" (in my opinion) are the only 2 books one has to read to truly understand Zen. Nishijima places high importance on 'zazen' which I feel many other buddhist/zen authors unfortunately don't. This book is truly a 'gem' and one that I would strongly recommend to anybody interested in Zen Meditation (zazen). His metaphor of 'meeting the real dragon' and thus living our lives 'head on' (instead of living vicariously through the 'pictures / trophies' we hang in our houses) -- is a priceless teaching !!
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Most of the time Nishijima seems so simple that it is too easy. Only in it's simplicity does it become complex. Do not deify false idols, go out and meet the real dragons in your life and your life gets infinitely better. Practice, learn, then practice some more
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The chief virtues of this book are the author's intriguing perspective on Western thought, his alternative slants on traditional Buddhist doctrine, and the generally welcoming tone of his teachings. In one chapter, the author conducts an impressive survey of philosophy from Plato forward, with comments on how Western thought diverges or intersects with Buddhist philosophy. It's of necessity a broad brush discussion, and may well draw scorn from scholars, but it's an interesting exercise nevertheless.

Another chapter contains a novel (to me at least) interpetation of the Four Noble Truths, based upon Gudo's readings of the Sutras and the writings of Dogen. He unabashadley reveres Dogen. Whether his interpretations of Dogen's writings is right or wrong is up for grabs, but it's thought-provoking nonetheless.

Those looking for another guidebook on practicing Zen might find this a disappointing read. Gudo is interested in the place of Zen in the world of thought, not just cheerleading for those who need inspiration for their practice. There's enough of that, as well, but what makes this book stand out is Gudo's willingness to examine Zen's broader implications. He might be right or he might be wrong, but you'll be forced to grapple with a new look at Zen.
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