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Blue Cliff Record: Zen Echoes Paperback – Bargain Price, November 1, 2001

2.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, November 1, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

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David Rothenberg’s adaptation of the Blue Cliff Record is that rare thing, a work of art that is also useful. -- Mark Rudman, winner of the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Poetry and author of Rider

Thousand year old riddles are brought here to evocative poetic life ... contemporary verbal music. -- Frederick Franck, author of The Zen of Seeing

Unique and wondrous ... here philosophy, spiritual practice, and creativity are fused and whole. -- Charles Johnson, winner of the National Book Award in fiction for Middle Passage

"David Rothenberg's adaptation of Blue Cliff Record is that rare thing, a work of art that is also useful. It is as bracing as a dive into a cold spring--a wake up call from reality--the splendor of what is." --Mark Rudman, winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Poetry and author of Rider

"What is unique and wondrous about these poetic responses to the Blue Cliff Record is that here philosophy, spiritual practice, and creativity are fused and whole. Each poem remarkably celebrates the Zen past and at the same time builds the foundation for a new interpretation that helps imagine how we, here and now, can live the Dharma on these shores." --Charles Johnson, winner of the National Book Award in fiction for Middle Passage --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"It is astonishing how thousand-year-old riddles are brought here to evocative poetic life. David Rothenberg converts them into contemporary verbal music, an Arcanum, a profound secret, a mystery without intellectual solution." -- Frederick Franck, author of The Zen of Seeing and The Buddha Eye

Much as Coleman Barks breathed new life into the work of the great Sufi poet Rumi and reached the hearts and minds of contemporary readers, David Rothenberg now brings us vividly poetic new versions of the enigmatic koans and riddles from the classic Zen Buddhist text, the Blue Cliff Record. Blue Cliff Record: Zen Echoes is an accessible contemporary distillation of this twelfth-century treasure of Zen Buddhism, a lively feast of words and images designed to stretch and open the mind.

With a foreword by poet, author, and translator Sam Hamill. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1930337035
  • ASIN: B000FUO0DS
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,879,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on December 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
The scholarly translations of the Blue Cliff Record (all that's been available until now) are dense with confusing imagery and obtuse commentary from another century. In this lovely and tasty version however, Rothenberg has found the meat and given it to us shorn of the accumulations of centuries, without throwing away any of the succulent parts! And it comes beautifully designed and illustrated to boot. Highly recommended! Here's one of my favorite ones:
Case 37: This Triple World
Don't wait around when lightning strikes
When thunder comes there's no time to hide
there are ghosts before you, they won't go away
Once the arrow leaves the bow, it will not come back.
The moonshadow strikes the archer at night.
There is nothing in the triple world
Nothing one, two, three times or more.
The white clouds are a ceiling.
the stream plays the world like a lute,
one pluck, three strings, no one sings along.
All the tones may be clear,
but when you hear them, you're mute.
When the rain has passed, the river is deep.
Dragging in mud, dripping in water,
run from the thunder, no time to sleep.
Eighty four thousand verses,
eighty four thousand to go.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, this book doesn't contain any translation of the blue cliff record, so if you buy just it and don't have a translation of it, you will be lost as to what the autor is talking about.

And the author just made up some poetry about what he read in each of the hundred cases of the blue cliff record, poetry that doesn't seem particulary significant from the point of view of zen. After all, the blue cliff record is a book about zen.

If you are interested in zen (I don't know why would you buy the blue cliff record if you weren't), don't buy this book. Buy instead either Thomas cleary's translation or katsuki sekida's translation with comentary of the blue cliff record, or both.
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Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book, and I do like the illustrations. The book itself is taken from the actual Blue Cliff Record, and the editor has condensed and omitted material from each case. I hoped he was going to leave the poetry intact, but he did not. In my opinion, this is the Blue Cliff record diluted, denuded, stripped of its authenticity and beauty. I cannot recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
This book shows what you get if you take a coherent and challenging Zen classic and slice and dice it and distort it willy nilly to fit some sentimental New Age preconceptions of what is "spiritual."

If this writer had any inkling of Zen, he would not dream of treating a classic expression of the teaching like the Blue Cliff Record in such a cavalier way.

Maybe the writer should ponder a Zen saying: "I would rather suffer the torments of uninterrupted hell, than to portray Zen as mere sentimentality and blind people's eyes."
1 Comment 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Blue Cliff Record: Zen Echoes by David Rothenberg (poet, philosopher, musician, and Contributing Editor to "Parabola" magazine) is a selection of one hundred classic Zen Buddhist koans originating in a 12th century Zen manuscript. Ancient, poetic ponderings meant to stimulate insight and deeper awareness fill this treasure store, aptly and meaningfully translated into English. "Take my hand and come circle the One Certain Mountain/We'll sadden ourselves not to death, but to life." Blue Cliff Record is a highly recommended addition to Buddhist Studies reading lists and reference collections.
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