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Opening a Mountain: K=oans of the Zen Masters Paperback – February 26, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Opening a Mountain, Steven Heine takes a unique look at the Zen koan, delving into its mythological background and its relationship to folk beliefs. Even with available commentaries, koan are enigmatic at best, but in a virtuosic display of historical and textual scholarship, Heine brings us a step closer to understanding what the koan are saying and where they come from. Why are there spirits or supernatural rivals in koan? What is the significance of the staff or fly-whisk the monk carries? Why are mountains so central? These are some of the questions that Heine answers as he examines 60 handpicked koan, case by case, first translating them complete with their original commentary, then offering his own discussion that covers textual points, then going into the role of supernatural and ritual imagery. Scholarly in tone, Opening a Mountain opens up a new dimension in the study of Zen koan. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Koans are paradoxical statements intended to derail mental business-as-usual for the Zen Buddhist student on the journey to enlightenment. A book about koans at first glance seems itself paradoxical, since it requires the cognitive discrimination that koans seek to upend. Yet the tradition of koans comprises centuries of commentary by students and masters, which records the mental wrestling that koan use embodies. With this study, Heine, a professor of religious studies and history at Florida International University, augments his own contribution to Zen studies, which already consists of a dozen books. Heine organizes koans from a variety of sources to illustrate the Chinese and Japanese historical contexts from which the koan "canon" emerged. He argues that koans play upon, and with, elements of the supernatural that prevailed in the popular religious traditions that Zen encountered and transformed. His 60 selected koans, for which he provides his own prose translations, support his thesis and distinguish yet another interpretive strand in the bundle of non-dualistic possibilities entangled in the koan. This is not a book for the nightstand Buddhist; readers educated in Buddhist thought, however, can better appreciate the whimsical and formidable discipline that koans represent and cultivate. This book is a respectful and respectable contribution to the growing body of contemporary Buddhist studies at a time when Buddhism is establishing a vital presence in the American religious landscape.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195174348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195174342
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.6 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,377,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Recommend to all zen practitioners as well as mountaineering folks as well as those who love to gaze at mountains.
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