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Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning Paperback

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Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning + Introducing Buddhism (World Religions) + The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations (Religious Life in History)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 2nd edition (December 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590305299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590305294
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A lucid and illuminating presentation of the essential nature of Zen by an outstanding scholar. This book is an invaluable bridge between East and West.”—Masao Abe, author of Zen and Western Thought

"This book not only makes for instructive and valuable reading, it is also clearly and beautifully written."—Gershom Scholem, author of Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By calmly on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
The German Jesuit scholar Heinrich Dumoulin produced a formidable 2 volume history of Zen:
Zen Buddhism: A History, India & China
Zen Buddhism, Volume 2: A History (Japan) (Treasures of the World's Religions)

This shorter work by him, although it provides some history of Zen, does so only with a focus on explaining, in an academic fashion, the role of enlightenment in Zen. It is derived from lectures he gave during or before 1976.

I'd suggest keeping in mind, if one does read this book, that, as Dumoulin observes, one of the greatest Zen masters, Hui-Neng, could not read or write, let alone understand such a scholarly presentation of Zen. Nevertheless, this book may provide some context for understanding Zen Buddhism and its practices. Even so, its coverage of contemporary enlightenment experiences, centering on the forced methods of Harada school, will seem unusual to any one studying Soto Zen: it centering did to me. Of course, if you are an academician, this book may be ideal for you, although even then you may find the chapter of Dogen's metaphysics tough going, perhaps less so depending on your familiarity with Mahayana Buddhism.

Some of the useful historical background includes:
- Indian roots, noting the similarities between Yoga and zazen (e.g.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John C. Marshell Jr. on August 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, this book is one of the best introductions to Zen available. For those who may not want to work through Father Dumoulin's two volume history of Zen Buddhism, this short book provides an excellent overview of the subject while not neglecting important and decisive historical details in Zen's development. Dumoulin's writing is clear and understandable with terms well defined, and anyone with a casual or nascent understanding of Buddhism would benefit from the erudition on its pages.

Personally, I did not find the book to be all that "academic." Dumoulin's efforts to define Zen's development in a systematic and historically contextualized manner around the theme of "Zen enlightenment" would address, I think, an important mainstream interest in the pithy center of Zen practice. What is Zen about? While it is true that Zen practice requires its adherents to engage in a sort of mental iconoclasm applied to discursive and rationalizing thinking, nobody says that to have a satori experience you must have the intellect akin to vegetation. There are plenty of smart guys who have been enlightened--Dogen comes to mind. To draw a distinction between "this knowledge and that knowledge" is to invite a dualism that most Zen masters, I think, would eschew. Dumoulin addresses the issue on page sixty two citing that "Lin-chi did not at all discard the wealth of learning he had acquired as a youth when he turned to Zen, but rather integrated it into a transformed spiritual experience." Integration is the key to a spiritual life. This book is a worthy addition to anyone's library. Read it without fear.

Dumoulin's efforts to write about Dogen in a book I consider "introductory" are laudable. Certainly not the easiest thinking to wrap your mind around in only a few pages.
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By claudioarismendi on September 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excelente book, from a very serius writer.
Very recomendable for anyone, researchers or interested people in christian prayer and zen
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