Buy New
$13.00
Qty:1
  • List Price: $15.00
  • Save: $2.00 (13%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Zen Letters: Teachings of... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu Paperback – November 13, 2001


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$13.00
$8.20 $9.91


Frequently Bought Together

Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu + Buddhist Women on the Edge: Contemporary Perspectives from the Western Frontier (IO) + Zen at War (2nd Edition)
Price for all three: $54.61

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (November 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570627037
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570627033
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

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

About the Author

Yuanwu (1063-1135) is best known as the author of the famous Zen book, The Blue Cliff Record, a collection of meditation cases with prose and verse comments.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
8
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 9 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. McGarry on August 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yuanwu (Japanese "Engo", 1063-1135) was the Chinese Zen Master who compiled the great koan collection, "The Blue Cliff Record". This volume presents Yuanwu's wisdom in a much more accessible form: it is a selection from his letters to monks & nuns and lay disciples. This is a Zen Master speaking directly and intimately with the people who depend on him for spiritual guidance. Few writings of the classical Zen tradition are more straightforward and uncomplicated than Yuanwu's words in these letters to his disciples.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Scott Lowe on November 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is one of great treasures of Zen--or for that matter, spiritual--literature. Yuanwu was one of the greatly enlightened beings, a true Buddha. Most Zen masters, for good reason, couched their teachings in language designed to help "wake up" their students, but which is usuually impenetrable to all of us who are decidedly on the unenlightened side. But in this marvelous book, Yuanwu speaks directly to Zen students in a way that both reveals his own transcendent state while giving spiritual guidance in earthy, practical, yet utterly inspiring words. This is a book that I dip into often for inspiration and guidance. I highly recommend it to you.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on November 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Yüan-wu, in Japanese Engo, was the Sung Dynasty Master who wrote the commentaries to the koans and verses of the "Blue Cliff Record". He has bent over backwards to help the reader, but at first they can seem baffling, if not infuriating. But you expect the "BCR" to be a lifetime struggle: most of its insights will only ever be accessible to those who can meditate at least 6-8 hours a day, every day (though the ideal is meditation without pause, while working, washing the dishes, eating, sleeping...)

This book is much more approachable, a selection of letters of advice written to his lay followers. The contents are altogether more mundane: about attitude and perseverance, meditation-practice and dealing with day-to-day life. These are not chatty, casual letters, they're concentrated teachings: this book is slim but contains nothing but treasures from cover to cover. They were written for a much more static and structured society, so how far they can be applied to today's accelerating world is a matter for personal judgement.

The translation is in the Cleary house style, certain words seized on as ad hoc technical terms. Treat with caution. Room for one example. "Conditioning", in Buddhism, does NOT mean "social conditioning". It means the sum total of causes that make a thing what it is. So the colour of your eyes, the shape of your fingernails, your shoe-size, your height, are "conditioned."

Not a book for those just encountering Zen, but perfect for those beginning to get serious. Though he writes for lay-people not monks, Yüan-wu's guidance is rigorous. You must stay in what T.S. Eliot called "a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything." The Buddha himself meditated for 6 years. Bodhidharma faced a wall for 9 years.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ram Lee on December 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
This small book offers a translation of letters written by the Chinese Zen master Yuanwu (1063-1135) who is better known for his collection of koans 'The Blue Cliff Record'.
But this book is of a different nature and not so enigmatic or mind-boggling. It consists of short letters (usually about two pages) written to teachers, disciples and lay students, both to advanced adepts and beginners. It is very concise: with 107 pages it still offers a wealth of elucidation, advice and inspiration.

I have read 20 titles of the Zen-translations of Thomas Cleary (this one is translated together with his brother) and I consider this his best one, and basically the best Zen-book I know, though I hold Dan Leighton's 'Cultivating the empty field', Thomas Cleary's 'Zen essence', and Shunryu Suzuki's 'Zen mind,beginner's mind' in high esteem.
Having read it for the fourth time in about four years, it does not yet exhaust itself.

As far as Zen-understanding can be reified, this is it, I would say.
(This understanding is of course not something in itself but a means only, to deconstruct misunderstanding;
when misunderstanding is really deconstructed, understanding has lost its function.)

Reading this book I can sense what the power of a Zen master was (and can be),
sanity and beauty seamlessly going together.

For improving your understanding of Zen (practice) and for being inspired when you are practicing,
I very much recommend this wonderful little treasure.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Clearys, famous Western translators of many Oriental works have done a masterful job of translating these ZEN LETTERS, the teaching correspondence of Yuanwu (Jp., Engo) the Chinese Ch'an (Jp., Zen) Master who lived between 1063 and 1135, and was responsible for writing the commentaries found in The Blue Cliff Record.

The Clearys have managed to render the often idiomatic and idiosyncratic language of Chinese Zen into modern metaphor, making Yuanwu's writings accessible and understandable to the current-day Zen practitioner. While not recommended for those utterly new to Zen, even a novice practitioner can take many meaningful things away from these brief, pithy writings.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?