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Wild Ivy: The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin Paperback – July 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590308093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590308097
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The most important Japanese Zen master after Dogen, Hakuin reinvigorated Rinzai Zen through an emphasis on the uncompromising pursuit of enlightenment. Such a relentless pursuit can be found in the pages of his autobiography Wild Ivy. After being scared out of his wits by a Nichiren priest lecturing on the fires of Hell, Hakuin left home at the tender age of 14. He set himself to practicing but vacillated, alternating between fervent effort and doubt. Wild Ivy tells honestly of the ups and downs of Zen training, of peak satori experiences, and deflating conundrums. Perhaps the great value of this book is the human face that Hakuin manages to put on a centuries-old tradition by offering details from his own life. For instance, take his story of being beaten unconscious by a crazed woman with a broom and coming out of it with a penetrating understanding of the impenetrable Koans he had been working on. Through his merciless practice, Hakuin also experienced a physical deterioration, or "Zen sickness," and relates the storybook account of his ascending a remote mountain to glean the secret method of introspective meditation from a cave-dwelling hermit. Hakuin believed that even after satori, one must never stop practicing. Teaching is one method of practice, and Wild Ivy stands as one of Hakuin's great teachings. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An 18th-century Japanese Zen master considered the father of modern Rinzai Zen, Hakuin is best known as the author of the well-known koan "what is the sound of one hand clapping." His writing stresses, among other things, the central importance of zazen (seated meditation) in Zen practice. This is a representative text from this important figure.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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It may well scare away the faint-hearted.
richard hunn
If you're looking for the book that Hakuin found to be so helpful, entitled "Spurring Students Through the Zen Barriers".
Sleepy Hermit
I also enjoyed some of his ideas on zen and qigong.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By richard hunn on April 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Norman Waddel has made an excellent job of this translation. Rare as they are, autobiographies of Zen monks pose special difficulties - yet the translator has surmounted these, leaving us with a powerfully moving and inspiring document. Hakuin Ekaku the great reformer of Rinzai Zen in the Tokugawa,was a towering figure, a religious genius, whose rich spiritual insight expressed itself in countless ways - not only in his many Dharma talks and commentaries, but also in art. The overall impression one gets from Hakuin's teachings - is that of a formidable spirit, for whom all barriers and impediments had melted away. As such, it is easy to imagine Hakuin lacked human vulnerability. The rewarding thing about reading Hakuin's autobiography, is that reveals the trials and tribulationa the Master had to negotiate, to find that 'place of final rest.' Hakuin didn't shrink from revealing the weaknesses and foibles of his own character, and if the mature Hakuin - the accomplished Master, seems daunting, it is because he presented to others - by way of teaching and instruction - the same tasks he took upon himself. This work - the 'Itsumadegusa' shows us this process - in a detailed and exacting way. Quite evidently - going by some readers' comments, Hakuin's rather arduous path doesn't appeal everybody. There is a tendewncy to translate Zen into a kind of 'soft' option, but Hakuin was well aware of this trait - known in his day, also - and he was uncompromising about combatting it. Hakuin's severity is often contrasted with Bankei's 'easy way' - his 'Unborn Zen,' but in truth, even Bankei had to exert himself - and did exert himself. Suzuki Daisetz made this point.Read more ›
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Norman Waddell has brought this utter gem of a book to the English speaking world about one the greatest Zen Masters of our modern era. Hakuins words are incredibly timely for the Western Sangha that has digressed into formalistic ritualism as opposed to direct seeing. There are only three other books in English out there deicated to Hakuin and each one is a treasure for our time. At a time of massive degredation in the Zen comunity Hakuin attacked hard and succictly at the "ghost sitters" and blank minded people that taught false Zen to others. Many thanks sincerely to Mr Waddell for this book. As having every book ever published in English on Zen, I can say that this holds among the highest ranks as a book for those that claim to be true Zennists or are interested in it. Hakuin slices to shreds those that claim to preach the Dharma and now more than ever this book is of paramount importance to be read by the Zen Sangha. Thank you Norman, more than you know.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sleepy Hermit on November 18, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I found most inspiring was that here is a great Zen master that has the same questions, doubts, and ups and downs while travelling the spiritual path that every other person would have, but he has found a way to overcome them and achieve enlightenment. Its gives hope to the ordinary lay people that are going through a similar struggle.

If you're looking for the book that Hakuin found to be so helpful, entitled "Spurring Students Through the Zen Barriers". This appears to be Norman Waddells translation of the Chinese title "Ch'an kuan ts'e chin". J.C. Cleary has translated this important work originally written by Zhuhong into English. It is titled "Meditating With Koans" by J.C. Cleary and is available online from Amazon.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ian Dicken on March 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that I like Hakuin. He's delightfully grouchy at times which I can relate to, his zeal for Zen practice is undeniable, and he certainly isn't afraid to voice his opinions. I have two other books of his writings - "The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin" and "Zen Words for the Heart", both translated by Norman Waddell.

Usually I wouldn't go anywhere near an autobiography but in the case of Wild Ivy I thought it might be inspiring to read about this towering figure in Zen history in his own words. As other reviewers have noted, the book certainly succeeds in bringing out the human being behind the legend. But in retrospect, I guess I was hoping for less of the human being and more of the enlightened being.

I can think of several reasons why I felt a little let down - here are just a couple.

First, by his own admission, Hakuin was driven to the spiritual life at a very early age by an almost obsessive terror of being reborn in one of the Buddhist hells. This terror continued to haunt him throughout his life. This gives his Zen practice an almost frantic, desperate quality which I found hard to relate to. He seems to glorify a severe kind of Zen which borders at times on self-mortification. He lavishly praises one priest who would deprive himself of sleep by stabbing himself in the thigh with a sharp object. Later he applauds a fellow who strips naked knowing that he will be assaulted by swarms of mosquitos while he meditates. Well, that's one way to practice - but forgive me if I don't rush to sign up.

Second, his constant rants about the evils of Silent Illumination, or "do nothing Zen" as he called it, show how polarized his thinking was.
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