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The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination Paperback – November 11, 2008

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The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination + Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Chan Master Sheng Yen has the truly rare ability to harmonize classical teaching with actual meditation practice. In The Method of No-Method he does this for the beautiful and profound Chinese Silent Illumination approach to meditation. It feels as if he is taking us, step by step and with great clarity, on our own personal retreat. Here is invaluable guidance for all students of meditative living.”—Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath and Living in the Light of Death



“Master Sheng Yen is a true spiritual practitioner of deep and broad learning.”—H. H. the Dalai Lama

About the Author

<link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:\DOCUME~1\lshaw\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_filelist.xml" /><style> </style> <p style="line-height: 150%;">Chan Master Sheng Yen (1930–2009) was a widely respected Taiwanese Chan (Chinese Zen) master who taught extensively in the West during the last thirty-one y ears of his life, with twenty-one centers throughout North America, as well as dozens of others throughout the world. He has co-led retreats with the Dalai Lama, and he is the author of numerous books in Chinese and English, including Song of Mind, The Method of No-Method, and his autobiography, Footprints in the Snow.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 2nd Printing edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590305752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590305751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Brian Schell on December 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Someone a few weeks back lamented their inability to go on a retreat. This book is the perfect solution to that situation, as it's essentially a retreat in book form. I introduced Master Sheng Yen a while back when I reviewed his book "Footprints in the Snow." I was impressed with that biography, and wanted to learn more about his actual teachings, so when he released this latest book, I jumped on the opportunity to read it. This book is basically a cleaned-up transcript of one of the week-long retreats that he offers.

There are three main sections to the book, "The Practice of Silent Illumination", "Master Hongzhi's Discourse: First Commentary", and "Master Hongzhi's Discourse: Second Commentary." Master Hongzhi lived from 1091-1157 and was the first to write about the practice of Silent Illumination. Sheng Yen has deeply researched into this Master and teaches his ancient method today.

The first section of the book is broken up into seven days' teachings on how to practice Silent Illumination. Silent Illumination, to put it simply (probably too simply), seems to be a combination of "Empty Mind" meditation combined with the idea of being one with the environment. Sheng Yen gives several short talks each day, and each has a small section with that day's teachings. If you wanted to know what goes on in a retreat, this book is a clear way to see without actually attending one.

The second and third sections are also broken up into seven days' teachings, but are more theoretical, explaining the original writings of Hongzhi in a modern way.

Since this is basically a transcription of a real week long seminar, there is some repetition, as the teacher reiterates some of what has gone before, but it's not overly repetitious.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rakibe on May 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Few books go into as much detail on the method of Mo Chao as this book by master Sheng Yen. In Zen the same method is known by the japanese name, "Shikantaza". Here Chan master Sheng Yen elucidates the method, its importance and its uses within the context of his Chan tradition. Whether your strictly Zen or familiar with Chan buddhism, if you like the silent illumination style of practice, if you like methods like Dzogchen for example, then you will love this book and find very practical examples of how practice and concentration works. Master Sheng Yen is the only Chan master I have ever heard of that actually went on a speaking tour with the Dali Lama. He is a highly respected teacher becasue fo his gnosis and ability to illucidate the fine aspects of sitting practice.
One final suggestion, this practice is really for people that have already generated a degree of concentration or samatha. Its really a method specific book. It is all about the specific method of entering into the stillness and silence of the mind through using the attention as the object of meditation itself. While th emethod is easily explained by Master Sheng Yen it requires some previous experience in meditation in my opinion. If you consider yourself a serious practicioner then this is great book for you.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Urmish R. Mehta on February 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I picked up this book I had no clue of what Chan is or had never heard of it before but when I read it through just first three days of this book, I realized and was amazed to see how realistically the master author has fulfilled the need and dream of so many who do not have access to legitimate live teachers who will guide them on their way telling and interpreting what it means when something happens or something does not happen. Shifu Sheng Yen has touched the substance without wasting any time of the audience in this book. The book itself is a 7 days long retreat, however, you can use it for your life. He not only himself directly goes and reaches the core but also takes you with him. The translator Guogu has done an excellent job in capturing the essence of the Chan teaching. You need not be a believer or of certain religion if you want to practice it. Just start on the practice and you will discover what the book is all about.

This is a must book if you are reading or are planning to read Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By eric warwick on August 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As far as I am concerned in my truly honest judgement,sheng yen's book the method of no method is truly one of the great contributions to mankinds well being in the twenty first century. Sheng yen is the greatest chan/zen teacher to reach the west if only for his revival of silent illumination enlightenemnt/realization practice of the caodong lineage/school of chan/zen Buddhism that went to Japan under the name of soto zen. Here we a truly simple direct practice that all can practice in all walks of live. It is deeply liberative and conducive to truly deep well being. It is a testament to the power of full attentive here and now direct awareness less filtered by wandering irrelevant thought in every action to truly liberate a person,make him more responsibly productive to the needs of every situation as they arise, break self centered fears and graspings to see things as they truly are not how you would like them to be and to provide a rational basis for profound well being. Silent illumination practice in short is one of mankinds greatest inventive practice in promoting human flourishing. In the interests of transparent advocacy I am a member of sheng yen's chan/zen Buddhist lineage but then I searched long and hard in find a practice of spiritual awakening. The method of no method is beautifully written in its clear direct simplicity but you might use thich nhat hanh the heart of buddha's teaching as a fine introductory guide. Eric warwick
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