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The Undying Lamp of Zen: The Testament of Zen Master Torei [Kindle Edition]

Zen Master Torei Enji , Thomas Cleary
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Undying Lamp of Zen is a pure and powerful distillation of Zen doctrine and practice written by Torei Enji (1721–1792), a Zen master and artist. Torei was best known as one of two “genius assistants” to Hakuin Ekaku, a towering figure in Zen Buddhism who revitalized the Rinzai school, which focuses on koan practice. Torei was responsible for much of the advanced work of Hakuin’s later disciples and also helped systemize Hakuin’s Zen teachings. The Undying Lamp of Zen includes a range of principles and practices, from the most elementary to the most advanced. It is an indispensable aid to the practice of Rinzai Zen, while also providing tested traditional techniques for public access to Zen experience.

Premier translator Thomas Cleary provides a thorough introduction and illuminating footnotes throughout, and his masterful translation lets Torei’s distinctive voice shine through; Torei is energetic, no-nonsense, and full of personality. No other English translations of this classic are available and Zen aficionados will want to add this to their collection.

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Editorial Reviews


“An indispensible aid to the practice of Rinzai Zen and an accessible entree to the Zen experience in general. Torei is a compelling guide; his tone is energetic, no nonsense, and full of personality.”—Sweeping Zen blog

“Eminent translator Cleary has made a true spiritual gem accessible to Westerners.”—New Age Retailer

Product Details

  • File Size: 274 KB
  • Print Length: 163 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1590307925
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications (June 17, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,998 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent essay on true Zen practice. June 11, 2011
By drglow
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This essay describes the importance of true Zen practice and contrasts it with false teachings and perspectives that actually hamper the progress of students. It was written by a teacher who lamented the decline of Zen in his time (the 18th century), and who was attempting to spur on the efforts of his contemporaries to practice diligently and in accordance with what had actually been intended by his lineage. Torei urges students to continue on ever deeper in their practice, even after "seeing nature", never stopping their progress toward the ultimate realization of the Buddhas. Without being elitist, Torei makes it clear that there are false paths and false teachers, and that following these can have disastrous consequences. Torei thought he was dying when he produced this work, and that may have influenced the tenor of it. However, he was careful to have his teacher, the renowned Hakuin, read it before he allowed it to be seen by a more general audience. Hakuin commented that it would be appropriate for students more toward the beginning of their practice. As a more intermediate student of Zen I found this to be very helpful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent September 21, 2011
I am starting a meditation group and will include this in the rec reading. This book illustrates a zen master's sincere wish to translate the lineage properly. In Japanese culture, it is of ultimate importance that the master hands down the teachings in a complete and strong manner. In American culture, we usually challenge what has gone before and find our own path. As I myself go down the path of teaching about zen and meditation, I will be mindful of this text and the master's urgings. I would say that this book would be best studied under a Roshi and with guidance along the way. It's always important not to become too intellectual in the pursuit of zen...or the being with the zen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for Zen practitioners January 28, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have now reread this amazing book four times. While it is very understated ( much like Toreizenji himself...) there are very subtle insights into the entire spectrum of Zen training. I have also given this book to a few fellow practitioners and they too find it remarkable. Very simply ( but elegantly) written, it allows accessibility to some very important tools for deepening one's affinity with this most subtle form of spiritual practice. This one can't be recommended highly won't be disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Solid work from Hakuin's disciple July 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This work energized my practice back when I was still practising Zen (I've since departed to another sect of Buddhism). - It's clear, concise, and contains guidelines.
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