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The Tao of Zen Hardcover – September, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The premise of The Tao of Zen is that Zen is really Taoism in the disguise of Buddhism--an assumption being made by more and more Zen scholars. This is the first book that links the long-noted philosophical similarities of Taoism and Zen. This is a reference that should be read by everyone interested in Taoism and Zen.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Book Sales (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785811257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785811251
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I was excited to learn of this book and even more excited to read its contents.
John R. Wilson
Whoever you are, whatever you believe, if you are not locked into the nutshell of who you believe yourself to be, try it ..... you'll like it.
Robert Eliason
It should be the source book for any author attempting to write about spirituality.
Tom Herren

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
The historical section of this book does a decent job examining how the marriage of Buddhism and Toaism may have taken place. It exposes some of the stories linking Chan to India as probably more legend than fact. However, the author makes no mention whatever of any influence Buddhism may have had on Taoism, or of any of the other quietist philosophies in China. It is very likely that there was interaction between all the traditions for centuries, making it impossible to extricate one from another.
For example, the Mahamadra teaching, Homage to the Coemergent Wisdom, of Vajrayana Buddhism is very similar to Taoism. Take this line: Space has neither color nor shape; it is changeless, it is not tinged by black or white. Likewise, the luminous essence of mind has neither color nor shape; it is not tinged by black or white, virtue or vice. Another line says: Remain in the state of nonmeditation. If you have attained nonattainment, then you have attained mahamudra. Also, the bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism is not trying to be good or kind, but is spontaneously compassionate. This is similar to the Toaist spontaneity.
The Heart Sutra which says emptiness is form is common to all Mahayana Buddhist traditions. How is this different from the undifferentiated Tao? The author seems to want to have nothing to do with Buddhism, to put Buddhism in one basket and Taoism in another. This emphasis on separtation doesn't seem very Taoist.
The author also has a negative tone when speaking of Buddhism. He says that the Chinese recognized Buddhism as a simplified form of Taoism. Then he says in another passage, "Simplicity is one of the foremost philosophical impulses that has moved through the long history of Toaism.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "fakj" on December 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The most definitive and readable work on Zen that I've ever read. In all my years as a student of Zen Buddhism (Soto), I've had a difficult time with the sutras and other Buddhist doctrine. Yet, I continued to enjoy the practice and the members at the Zendo where I studied. I often commented that I felt more a "Zennist" than a Buddhist, but was unable to describe or define the feeling..... Then I stumbled on Mr. Grigg's book. I'm re-reading it now, for the third time in one year. Mr. Grigg's history of Zen and the split with the sixth patriarch:Hui-Neng, was one of the best "enlightenments" I've experienced in my studies. I'd die to study with Mr. Grigg! I'm heading for a small island off B.C.!!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert Eliason on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book when it was first published in 1994, I was naturally surprised to see it re-published in 1999 as a hardback edition that cost far less than my paperback. I am glad to see it resurface and am in the process of re-reading it now. I think that this is a particularly good time for it's re-emmergence in light of all the work coming forth now concerning Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric Buddhism. In the intervening years I have delved into the study of those forms as well and will continue to do so. The Tao of Zen has always had a prominent on my bookshelf, and in fact is one of the few books that I bought extra copies of to give away. The first reading helped me to understand the worlds of distance between the practiced forms. The second reading is a reminder of why, in spite of my love for Buddhism and Hinduism, which I will surely study for the rest of my life, and in spite of my dislike of titles for myself, I picked up the banner of Daoism as that which rang truest in my heart. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, if you are not locked into the nutshell of who you believe yourself to be, try it ..... you'll like it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nativewater on February 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Very readable analysis of Zen trying to squeeze its Taoist feet into Buddhist shoes. I can buy the premise that Zen owes more of its character to Chinese Taoism than to Indian Buddhism.
However, I think the author is pushing his premise beyond the available evidence when he asserts that meditation (zazen) is irrelevant to Zen just because the technique is of Indian origin. While the culmination of practice is to re-enter the market place and live an ordinary life, getting to that point is difficult without sitting zazen.
I give historical analysis and insight 5 stars and conclusion about how zen should be practiced 3 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MG on February 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Zen, balance, or just plain old philosophy. This book clears up common myths and misperceptions about zen and buddhism, and seperates the two. Not an entirely difficult read, and very few (if any) boring parts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank Juszczyk, Ph.D. "Dr. J" on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Grigg's book offers one of the most comprehensively insightful treatments of both Taoism and Zen that I've encountered in many years. He makes a good case for the historically Taoist nature of Zen and then analyzes all of the principal qualities of traditional Chinese Quietism such as Nothingness, Simplicity, Balance, Suchness, etc. Grigg's writing style is smooth and transparent--enjoyable reading despite the subtlety and complexity of the subject. If you are a student of either Zen or Taoism and are looking for a leg up in understanding the essentially paradoxical, Grigg's book will take you far.
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