Customer Reviews: The Story of Chinese Zen
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on July 26, 1999
I have finally found a concise yet thourough story of Zen Buddhism is a book called THE STORY OF CHINESE ZEN by Huai-Chin...trans..T Cleary. This books is written by a learned Zennist and accomplished historian and professor of Taoism and Confucianism....this well written book is without equal in its Buddhist approach to Ancient Indian History and the period of Shakyamuni and the intricate web of philisophical factors influincing Buddhism and the nature and causes of spread of Zen and reasons and splits of Hinayana and Mahayana trappings and practices and their roots....As a complete 180 degrees from the professorly books on Buddhist history that takes a dry and bland timetabled look at Zen and Buddhist history this book is both straigthforward in every sense of the term ..not only from the point of view as being written by a very competent Buddhist but by a equally skilled historian ... This book appraoches the branching of Buddhism and the external and internal shapings that were undoubtably the reasons for the formation of the Zen school.....of ALL the scholastic and analytical writtings on Zen and its philosophical compare and contrast chapters ...this is the ONLY book that is written succinctly and thoruoghly on the subject of Buddhism starting with the period of Shakyamuni and the historical catalysts that shaped Zen to its present day short wow......remarkable in all aspects. Having a great deal of experience with other such books in the same genre. I can say with a strong basis for comparison that this book is a real diamond among the numerous lumps of coal that are dry analysises of Zen.
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on July 19, 1996
This is Master Nan's fifth English book. It is translated from the Chinese edition which was first published in 1968. It provides a succinct summary of Buhddism from Buhdda's enlightenment path to Chinese zen. The summary on the various Buhddist doctrines from the viewpoint of an enlightened praticioner is particularly valuable.

It also provides the history and background of zen in China. Buhdda did not particularly speak on zen, because zen cannot be expressed by words. It has to be passed on from one zen master to another. You cannot possibly grasp it through books, audio, video, etc. However, the book will tell you what zen is and what it is not. It will also tell you how zen developed in China. As such, it contains stories of many zen masters as interpreted by Master Nan. The interpretation of zen dialogue by an enlightened master is invaluable. Many zen practioners went astray for misinterpretation of the dialogues.

Invest in Mater NAN's books. They have ever-lasting values. Some of his Chinese books first published in 1955 are still print. Some of the more popular ones went into 20th edition in Taiwan. His Chinese books - 33 of them published both in Taiwan and mainland China - cover subjects in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese culture and history. His books are widely respected by Chinese academicans.
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on August 8, 1998
a great book on the history of Zen. Lucidly written!
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on October 19, 2012
Readers interested in a history of Zen should look elsewhere. This book does not focus on the history of Zen from inside the tradition (Zen writing) or from outside (historical research). Instead the author relates his personal beliefs based on his faith as if these were historical fact. Where historical evidence does not support his claims, he dismisses these questions by claiming "indirect proofs" which would "take too long to explain to the reader".

Further, the author has no interest in discussing the many different perspectives from others schools of Zen. The author discards or glosses over alternate views, occasionally going out of his way to delegitimize other Zen schools, writings, and perspectives.

Most telling of all in a way is the lack of a index. Sources, after all, take a back seat to this author's personal opinions, even on matters of historical record. It gave me a chuckle when the author wrote "we are all sometimes involved with our own deception." If you allow yourself to disregard historical research and ignore complicated questions then self deception is inevitable.
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on April 12, 2015
xlent read
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on November 9, 2015
Chan for only classically educated Chinese intilectuals
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