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Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry Paperback – November 22, 2011


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Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry + Shobogenzo.:Zen Essays by Dogen + Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Zen Questions equally introduces and expands our American understanding of Buddhist teachings, and of the many possibilities in navigating our own lives." -- (Jane Hirshfield)

"This is a wise and inspiring book." (Roshi Joan Halifax, author of Being with Dying)

"Taigen Leighton is full of compassion for the reader, whether a beginning or experienced practitioner." (Susan Moon, author of Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism)

"Leighton offers his readers an impressive array of insights into Soto Zen meditation practice." (Christopher Ives, author of Imperial-Way Zen)

"Clear, accurate and eminently useful." (Peter Coyote (HoSho JiShi, ordination name), actor and author.)

"These delightful essays take us another step down the long lonesome road toward naturalizing dharma into our own cultural matrix." (Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Sailing Home)

"This is an incredibly valuable book, useful for anyone who wishes to integrate their heart-work with work in the world." (James Ishmael Ford, author of Zen Master WHO?, co-editor of The Book of Mu)

"Taigen Dan Leighton has done his homework, digs deep, and comes up with treasure." (David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki)

"Brilliant text." (Steven Heine, author of Did Dogen Go to China)

"Unique and scintillating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cherishes the illumination of wisdom both ancient and modern." (Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice)

About the Author

Taigen Dan Leighton, Soto Zen priest and successor in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, received Dharma Transmission in 2000 from Reb Anderson Roshi and is Dharma Teacher at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago. After residing for years at San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara monastery, Taigen also practiced for two years in Kyoto, Japan. Taigen is author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry, Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, and Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra. He has edited and co-translated several Zen texts including: Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of Eihei Koroku, Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi, Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community, and The Wholehearted Way, and has contributed to many other books and journals. Taigen teaches online at Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, from where he has a PhD. He has taught at other universities including Saint Mary's College, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and in Chicago at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary and Loyola University Chicago. Taigen has long been active in social justice programs, including Peace and Environmental Activism.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861716450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861716456
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By to2911 on December 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Possibly the best book of contemporary Zen thought and practice among Western-born teachers. It is my new first recommendation for a basic text on Zen - for beginners and advanced practitioners. It really speaks to being a modern practitioner in the world, without idealizations, or Asian exoticism. It's practical and poetic, grounded while giving access to the "lofty" insights of ancestors like Dogen and Hongzhi (for both of whom Leighton has provided some of the best translations in English.)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dale Mac on February 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Having this book is like having an old friend drop by for a visit. And this old friend knows his stuff -- from scholarly inquiry, dedicated Zen practice and engaged living.
So settle down, open any page and enjoy the Dharma as expressed in this genuinely American way. It's fun, it's vital. You will want to keep it around for a long time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Harry on May 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like much literature in the Zen tradition Taigen Dan Leighton's new book is primarily based on some of his Dharma talks. The originals are mostly available in audio form on the web and are well worth the listen. A Dharma talk, however, is a unique event between speaker and audience and loses something in the recorded form. In adapting the talks into a book Taigen establishes a dialog with his new audience, the readers. The written form allows us to stop, contemplate, reread, and allow the material to sink in.

The chapters cover a range of topics including zazen, commentaries on Dogen, Zen interpretations of current poets,and dealing with our dysfunctional society in a manner that's both accessible to the casual reader and yet full of new insights for the long-time practitioner.

Taigen tells us, "The job of a Zen teacher is simply to show people how to sit zazen, to find their way to just sit uprightly, facing the wall and themselves, to not run away from this body and mind, here and now." And whether commenting on a difficult passage from Dogen, discussing Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" or reflecting on how Zen practice can be applied to the current problems of society, Taigen always brings us back to sitting upright on our cushion or chair, enjoying our breath, facing what comes up, and then carrying this practice back out into the world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Kaplan on April 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taigen Dan Leighton's latest book is, in many ways, unlike most of his other books. It's personal; it's his writing, not his translations. And in doing so, he illustrates some seminal aspects of Zen, both Soto and otherwise. A little self disclosure first: I'm an old friend of Taigen's, and have been practicing in a Koan School of zen for 15 years now, after spending 10 years also studying and practicing, along side of Taigen, in Suzuki Roshi's lineage.
One of the things that is a theme in this book that comes through over and over again is the need and place of questioning in zen. Not for answers, but as the central practice. Answers and insights do come, as Taigen says, but the sustaining of the questioning is vital. Whether on the cushion or off the cushion, raising a question is central to the heart and practice of zen inquiry. Taigen underscores this throughout his fine book. Creative Inquiry. " Settling in to the dynamic quality of zazen as question and inquiry requires a willingness to be present for this question." (Pg 8). Can we live in the middle of this life that is a question? His explication of Dogen as `how do I live this life?' cuts through the often difficult time in getting to exactly what Dogen is talking about in terms of practice and life.
This book is based on Taigen's articles and Dharma Talks given from 1994 through 2010.
Taigen's use of the term Upright Sitting, or being upright throughout this practice, is taken from his own Lineage Teacher, Tenshin Reb Anderson. It is another central notion that Taigen comes back to over and over again. What does it mean to be Upright, in the midst of it all?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Zenfan on February 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Taigen Leighton's latest book Zen Questions: Zazen,Dogen and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry is a joy to read. Born of his long teaching experience, Leighton examines the heart and mind of Zen, including meditation. He then moves beyond the cushion to examine how the dharma is being practiced in the world.

Leighton successfully combines an accessible writing style, a compassionate heart and a keen scholarly mind. I've already marked up my copy, a sign I'll be reading this book again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Thornton on July 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is almost a perfect book in every respect; any more mere words from mere me would be a slap to the void. Here is a true scholar, translator, teacher, and - may I say - buddha who has written on the greatest master of Soto Zen, Dogen, and compiled a series of lectures that are perfect for beginners, but do not talk down to them.
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