- Paperback: 187 pages
- Publisher: Weatherhill (October 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756788889
- ISBN-13: 978-0756788889
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,883,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Asking About Zen: 108 Answers Paperback – October 1, 2001
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The title of this book is misleading, as it does not answer questions general to Zen, only questions general to the author's sect of Zen. And while she does a good job of representing her school, her answers in relation to other sects are, at times, misleading and confused. Her misunderstandings of the teachings of Philip Kappleau stand out, as does her views of vegetarianism and the First Precept. I practice a Vietnamese version of Zen, and some of her answers are just plain wrong in relation to my school.
Asking About Zen does answer some basic questions like "what is a koan?" and "how do you sit?," but more thoughtful, in-depth answers can be found on-line in minutes.
Again, if you are interested in the Sotoshu school or in visiting Japan, this book will be of interest. If not, spend your time on practice and not on Asking About Zen.
The author is also an unusual figure among American Zen priests as her clerical career, starting when she was 48 and spanning the last 23 years, has been almost completely within Japan, including training in Japanese training temples under Japanese teachers, and work as a Zen teacher and as an assistant priest at an active Zen temple in Tokyo involved in the more mundane, "day-to-day" duties of a Zen priest in Japan. Thus, she is in a unique position to compare Zen as it has been practiced traditionally in Japan and as it has developed in the West. Further, the author has a "set the record straight" style that allows her to comment on many aspects of Zen as it has come to be practiced in the West that are usually ignored or "papered over" by other writers because they are rather controversial within the Zen community.
This book is a necessary addition to the shelf of anyone with a serious interest in Zen, and is also important to the beginner who is thinking about delving more deeply into the Zen world.