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Transmission of Light (Denkoroku): Zen in the Art of Enlightenment Paperback – June 6, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press (June 6, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865474338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865474338
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,130,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Soulplex on April 1, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cleary's translation (not "illustration!") of the Denkoroku is poignant, engaging, and by far one of the profoundest texts I've ever encountered. The extremely lucid teachings of nonduality contained within will certainly be of use to both the beginning Buddhist and advanced practioner, and will help to dispel the dualistic thinking that even some "experienced" Zennists persistently cling to. Keizan Zenji's message is strikingly clear:

"Furthermore, for long eons now how many times have you gone through birth and death, how many times have you come to produce and destroy mind and body? Some may think that this coming and going in birth and death is a dream, an illusion--what a laugh! Is there something that is born and dies, comes and goes, anyway? What would you call the real human body? What do you call dream illusions?

"Therefore you should not understand life and death as empty illusions either, nor should you understand them as true reality. . . . [B]oth or these understandings are wrong when you reach here. . . .

"If you want to know the reason why, it is because this realm is not affected by becoming, substinence, decay, and annihilation. How can selfhood and otherness be considered causeless? When you have forgotten outside objects and abandoned conditioned thought within, and 'even the clear sky gets a beating,' you are clean and naked, bare and untrammeled. If you perceive minutely, you will be empty and spiritual, clear and sublime."

It doesn't get any higher than that. I don't know why this book isn't more popular. Then again, perhaps it's just too deep for the American "Zen of such-and-such" society, who are content to live with a clear mind without ever discering what it actually is.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ted Biringer on August 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Thomas Cleary, Transmission of Light

Transmission of Light, is Thomas Cleary's translation of the Denkoroku. This remarkable record of the great 13th century Zen master Keizan (second in importance in the Japanese Soto sect of Zen only to Eihei Dogen) is an extremely accessible and instructive text. While Zen Master Keizan work has much less attention in the West than Dogen's Shobogenzo and Eihei Koroku, it is a vastly important Zen text. As a source for koan-introspection, this book plays a central role to both Rinzai and Soto Zen.

Formatted in the model of the "Transmission of the Lamp" histories of Sung China, Keizan reveals the wide variety of Zen methods, doctrines, and practices through 53 successive Buddhist Masters, from Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha) through Ejo (Dogen's own successor).

Keizan uses the central message of Zen, Satori, to inspire and guide all beings to awakening. In Cleary's words, "Satori is the essential initiatory experience of Zen Buddhism, the beginning of true Zen realization, and Transmission of the Light is the most thorough guide to satori in the entire Japanese Zen canon."

As a record by the third (or fourth, depending on how you count) generation Dharma-heir of Dogen, this record offers powerful wisdom and insight from a great master that was truly intimate with the dialogues of Dogen. Besides the vital role Satori held for Dogen, Keizan shines light on the truth of Dogen's teaching concerning sitting meditation, koans, the importance of study, and the meanings behind many of the classic Buddhist doctrines.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Transmission Of Light: Zen In The Art Of Enlightenment is a fascinating translation of the classic Denkoroku, attributed to Zen Master Keizan (1268-1325), and presenting timeless wisdom in how to attain the enlightening experience of satori. Fifty-three short tales about spiritual awakening and more are smoothly translated by Thomas Cleary, who is himself an experienced translator of Taoist writings. Transmission Of Light: Zen In The Art Of Enlightenment is a highly recommended and rewarding reading for serious students of Zen Buddhism.
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