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Zen Lessons (Shambhala Pocket Classics) Paperback – August 31, 1993

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Yuanwu's teaching, happily available to modern audiences in a vast body or literature, has a universality that transcends dogma and the narrow parameters of established religions."— The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese

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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Pocket Classics
  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (August 31, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877738939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877738930
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 0.8 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,746,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Cleary is the preeminent translator of classic Eastern texts, including The Essential Tao, The Essential Confucius, The Secret of the Golden Flower, and the bestselling The Art of War.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By E. Witt ( on July 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. Certainly the issues facing leaders today are comparable to those that have faced leaders across cultures and throughout time. Human nature has not changed, and therefore the fundamentals of leadership -- the process of channeling human nature in a particular direction -- have not changed.
"Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership" conveys this message in spades. In the format of a series of compact passages, it presents excerpts from the cumulative wisdom of thousands of years of experience with continual political society. The insights and lessons contained in this book are as poignant today as they were when they were first put forth; the reader will be astounded, gratified, and ideally energized to pursue a path of virtuous leadership in his or her personal and professional life.
This reviewer highly recommends this book for those in corporate, governmental, public or private positions of leadership, as! well as for the general reader. After all, it is the duty of the citizenry to expect great things from those it follows.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Valencia on November 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In light of the morally destitute state of leadership in this country, the title of this book arouses a cynical chuckle at first. In such a context, hunger for the genuine leader is palpable. The broken trust we have all experienced at the hands of "leaders"--whether political, economic, social or religious--has sparked a multifaceted reactivity. It manifests itself as both atheism and pantheism, new age spiritualism or traditionalism. Given the septicity of the western Zeitgeist, it is inevitable that there will be those who suspect that the western practioner of Buddhism is engaged in a feverish and delusional attempt to manufacture the genuine out of an exotic orthodoxy whose best selling point is that it is not really a religion. Like any religion it has succeeded in drawing its share of phonies and egomaniacs. These "Zen Lessons" are a useful guide in identifying, illustrating and rebuking them.

In the eleventh century China at the time of the Song Dynasty, when the writings that comprise Zen Lessons were composed Chan (Zen) had reached a zenith of popularity and influence. Monasteries had taken on a prestigious civic aspect, and it had become the custom for a government official to make appointments of leadership in the monastic hierarchy. The system was easy to game: imposters proliferated, and their flatteries and pieties got them into plum roles in the monasteries. Thomas Cleary has this explanation for the vast expansion of Zen and its inevitable corruption: "According to Zen teaching, when people in positions of great responsibility in society trust Zen adepts, it may unconscious response to the safety felt in the presence of a truly detoxified human being...the false appeared in such profusion precisely because the true was so effective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Zuther on June 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i first purchased this book in the 90's. i've since purchased a copy for my father and for a friend i thought may draw inspiration from it. i've read the book several times over the years. it's a good read, at a page or two a day, giving insight into common scenarios people encounter in day to day life. i have a library of about 40 self help books that i've acquired over the years through the recommendations of people i've looked up to. this book is my favorite.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always had an avid interest in Asian philosophy, especially the numerous warrior (Art of War, Bushido: Way of the warrior) philosophy arts. This volume, which was translated by one of my favorite Asian philosophy translaters, Thomas Cleary is well organized and easy to read. Unfortunately, like a lot of Asian masters of Zen, the messages are not always clear and obvious. Many times one has to reread some of the passages in order to better understand what the master is attempting to tell the reader. As anyone who has studied Zen to some degree knows, it is a philosphy that is supposed to be simple and reality-based, which makes it appealing to so many people. However, like any subject one is attemtping to master, the deeper aspects and messages must be seriously studied to obtain real knowledge.

This book on Zen and leadership covers numerous topics. Some of these include the following: Englightened virtue, study and learning, great and small evil, honesty, modesty, rules, worry and trouble, work and the way, safety and danger, three essentials of leadership, leadership and the community, mastering mind, mistrust, Chan adepts, knowing people, mastery of both worlds, defeatism, speech and action, study without turning away from people, passing the test, advice to the king, leadership and pride, numerous other topics related to the art of leadership.

These Zen lessons are taken from a number of ancient Zen teachers and each has their own particular Zen lesson to teach students. This is a book that one should slowly read to absorb the important points each Zen teacher is attempting to explain to the reader.

In conclusion, if you are interested in how some of the lessons of Zen can apply to leadership, this book may be what you are seeking.

Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Haiku Moments: How to read, write and enjoy haiku)
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