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The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma (English and Chinese Edition) Paperback – November 1, 1989

4.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: Chinese, English

About the Author

Red Pine lives and work in Taiwan. He is the translator of The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press (November 1, 1989)
  • Language: English, Chinese
  • ISBN-10: 0865473994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865473997
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first began researching Zen in the secondary sources: inspiring and thoughtful and informative authors like D.T. Suzuki who cited the patriarchs. At some point one realized that it's going to be essential to read the primary sources themselves. This is one of them. Here is a first rate translation of the First Patriarch of Zen. Red Pine gives a nine page introduction to Bodhidharma, facts separated from lore, providing the reader a concise introduction to what one should know about the First Patriarch of Zen, who arrived in China from India about 2000 years ago. The divisions of the book are four teachings traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma:

Outline of Practice

Bloodstream Sermon

Wake-up Sermon

Breakthrough Sermon

As usual, Mr. Pine offers you the original Chinese text throughout, and provides extensive and very helpful explanatory notes, this time offered as endnotes to keep the texts of the four teachings unencumbered.
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By A Customer on August 22, 1996
Format: Paperback
A fifth-century Buddhist Indian mystic, Bodhidharma proves to be one of Buddhism's most enigmatic masters. Acknowledged as the father of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma's teachings represent the every essence of Zen itself. Deep and pithy, he sermons guide the reader to the very summit of Buddha mind, urging the reader to look within beyond the veil of appearance. Not an ordinary book that will be read only once then tucked away on a bookshelf, Red Pine's translation of Bodhidharma's teachings will be a constant companion for many years. I highly recommend this book for both the beginner and the seasoned practitioner of Zen
1 Comment 23 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
If you haven't noticed by now, truth is not exempt from change. This wonderful traslation of some of the core teachings of the credited founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, makes this very clear to me. Everytime I read this tremedously important work new insight comes forward, making clear how the "way" is never locked in place. Not to mention this is one of very few books out there in English which gives an account of some of this famous master's teachings.
If you read this book with a sincere effort to realize this life, it will no doubt give you what you came for. As for a book of mere entertainment, this is not that. It is thought provoking, the meanings of every page are not spoonfed to us. We are left to search for their meanings within on our own, Red Pine simply tries to present us with the original sayings. Commentary can often confuse someone into believing that the observation an uthor makes is one and the same with what was originally said. I like how Red Pine does not do this. I believe the best translator's try their best to present us with the closest accounts as possible of what the original work was about. I believe Red Pine has certainly done this.
Enjoy this book:)
1 Comment 19 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a little jewel. Every time I open it I am impressed anew with its clarity and immediacy. This is due,I think, not only to the timelessness of the teachings themselves, but to Red Pine's intelligence & sensitivity. Many thanks, Red Pine.
1 Comment 28 of 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I have read this book maybe twenty-five times now and I keep returning to it because what is contained is about as bare bones a relation of perspective as can be given. I admire directness and a concise approach as much as I admire Zen itself. Bodhidharma "tells it like it is" and then closes his mouth. Red Pine is a treasure to the English speaking world.
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Format: Paperback
Red Pine (aka Bill Porter, author of ROAD TO HEAVEN and a celebrated translator of Buddhist poetry and scripture) gives us a spirited translation of four talks attributed to Bodhidharma even though debates over authorship, and even the existence of Bodhidharma as more than a legend, have not rested.
Bodhidharma's "Outline of Practice" outlines the dharma as this Brahman-born monk taught it in China after being sent there by his teacher, Prajnatara. A confusing distinction made in these talks, especially the "Outline," has to do with what Bodhidharma calls "reason" (again, in this translation) and meditation practice. They are presented as two avenues to "zen," but the definitions make it hard to distinguish them. Throughout, there is an inside/outside (or mind/body) kind of thinking which may be expedient thinking for the sake of his students, or his own enduring mind-habit.
Otherwise, his teaching is very clear: attain your true self, attain what the Heart Sutra is talking about; and at that point, what is there to do? Realizing the paramitas without a trace of actor or action, the student can use form with a clear mind and help others.
In the "Bloodstream Sermon," there are questions and answers, as Bodhidharma teaches and occasionally spars with monks in China (at a time when Buddhism in China was heavily philosophical). Bodhidharma has mastered the philosophy enough to turn it on its ear and make it point these sleepy students to "just doing it." If you do not find your true self, he says, all invocations, offerings and precepts are useless. "The thousands of sutras and shastras only amount to a clear mind."
With the "Breakthrough Sermon," the conceptualizing gets pretty convoluted.
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