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Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung San Paperback – August 8, 2006


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Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung San + Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn + The Compass of Zen (Shambhala Dragon Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; First Edition edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129112019
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129112019
  • ASIN: 1590303407
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The late Korean Zen Buddhist master Seung Sahn, who died in 2004, came from the "kill the Buddha" school of Buddhism that relishes paradox and shrewd foolishness. The playfulness of this teacher's challenges to his pupils is clearly conveyed in this compilation of short exchanges with students. These are dharma (teaching) encounters rather than the lengthier talks found in many teachers' books. When Seung Sahn is not teaching students that one plus two equals zero, he is sharply banging his Zen stick on the floor to remind them to stop thinking, or talking, in order to understand. These short pieces nicely communicate a forceful style, and they are almost philosophical for someone who reiterates the shortcomings of an intellectual understanding of things. "Primary point" is a term the master uses to explain something like an absolute, except that Buddhism constructs no absolutes. Some biographical material, including a letter the Zen Master wrote to former South Korean dictator Gen. Chun Du-Hwan, provides helpful context. Seung Sahn's students in the Kwan Um School will especially prize this collection, and its easy-to-read format should also pique the interest of students of other Zen masters. (Aug. 8)
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Review

“Now that Soen Sa Nim [Zen Master Seung Sahn] is gone, we have only the stories, and, thankfully, books such as this one, to help bring him alive to those who never had a chance to encounter him in the flesh. In these pages, if you linger in them long enough, and let them soak into you, you will indeed meet him in his inimitable suchness, and perhaps much more important, as would have been his hope, you will meet yourself.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses

“Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teachings will always bring great light into the world. His extraordinary wit, intelligence, courage, and compassion are brought to us in this wonderful and important book. Thousands of students have benefited from his great understanding. Now more will come to know the heart of this rare and profound human being.”—Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fletcher Chambers Jr. on May 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're predisposed to think Zen is esoteric and austere, you won't like this book. If you're drawn to the elegant (and admitedly a little esoteric) simplicity of Zen this is a great read you'll find yourself returning to...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on August 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Seung Sahn, also known as Soen Sa Nim to his students, is possibly the most famous exponent of Korean Zen (Son) in the West. His books and the tales they tell, and the tales told about him all point to a man who was supremely comfortable in his own skin and only hoped that others could feel the same comfort in and of themselves.

He was a man who yelled, "Kill the Buddha!" joyfully and at the top of his lungs. He believed that wanting enlightenment---wanting anything---wanting---was the big mistake that keeps us bound to our own sufferings.

This is a collection of short anecdotes and teachings. All are meaningful and surprisingly pithy, even the funniest ones, but what makes this book extraordinary is the inclusion of Seung Sahn's famous, never-before published 1982 letter to South Korea's dictatorial President, Chun Du Hwan. In this letter, Seung Sahn engages in Dharma Combat with a man both infinitely more powerful and infinitely weaker than Sahn himself. The absurdity of Chun's pretension to power is dissected under Sahn's compassionate but unsparing eye. It is said that Chun turned red with impotent rage reading Sahn's letter, one which should stand on equal footing with Martin Luther King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 26, 2012
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I never had the privilege of meeting or studying under Zen Master Seung Sahn, but I have read and studied all his words. He would admonish me for clinging to words, and I'm sure I would have felt the sting of his Zen stick more than once. However, his method of teaching is unique and direct. It takes time, and it requires effort, as all important lessons must. His books are a must for the serious student. They form an important core to my library, and I find myself repeatedly drawn back to them for new learning.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Lew on February 22, 2009
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This is a great book. The teaching is simple,straight forward and clear. I recommended it to anyone who is interested in Buddha.
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