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Zen's Chinese Heritage -- The Masters & Their Teachings Paperback – April 15, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The history of Zen can be almost as perplexing as its cryptic koan. In many accounts of Zen history, it is hard to tell who is Chinese and who is Japanese, who lived in the 6th century and who in the 16th. Andy Ferguson attempts to clear the air once and for all. In Zen's Chinese Heritage, he organizes all of the Chinese Zen masters from Bodhidharma at the turn of the 5th century to Huikai in the 13th century, presenting their core records and writings in chronological order by generation--25 generations in all. Drawing from Wudeng Huiyan (Compendium of Five Lamps) and other records, Ferguson translates the classic Zen teachings (including dialogues, anecdotes, and koan) in spare, straightforward language. He also presents an expertly arranged foldout lineage chart of the Zen ancestors, with cross-referencing by Japanese, Chinese pinyin, and Chinese Wade-Giles transcriptions. Ferguson's work is not only a priceless treasury of Zen literature but also a road map to the history of Zen. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

It is something of a commonplace that Zen Buddhism is the property of Japan; this excellent and exhaustive book reminds us of the vast, though now neglected, patrimony of Buddhist spiritual knowledge that comes not from Japan but China. Ferguson's work is at once a history and an anthology of this fascinating tradition and includes many koans, anecdotes, and stories, as well as a wonderfully clear wallchart "Map of the Zen Ancestors." This splendid repository should give instruction and pleasure to the general reader as well as the professed Buddhist. Highly recommended for general and academic collections alike.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (April 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711635
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,454,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Zen's Chinese Heritage - The masters and their teachings, by Andrew Ferguson, is a long awaited reference for those wishing to appreciate the origins of the Zen tradition. As a long time practioner of Zen, the many illustrious and noteworthy ancestors of my tradition, have often been nothing more than a confusing collection of names, difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to appreciate as once real and living men and women. Andrew Ferguson's painstaking efforts at bringing to life these practioners of old, and providing us with history and anecdotes from their allusive lives, has enlivened my practice and given new meaning to the many wonderful and amazing persons I encounter in my koan study. This book is a wonderful guide and reference, especially with its accompanying lineage chart, for anyone who is either a practioner of this wonderful tradition or is solely interested in furthering their appreciation for the history of Zen.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book back when I was living in a monastery. I found it to be extraordinary, the other monk that I was living with at the time was also amazed that such a book had been written and he was the one that order one for the monks and one for the nuns.

The book goes through the very beginnings of Chan (Chinese word for Zen) up through the "Golden Age" and beyond. I found very intriguing particularly to see that at one point in the Chan history that there was this point when so many enlightened masters had arose at once. Probably something we may never see again. You will find all Five Schools in here plus other schools that were not so prominent but had an impact as well.

Definitely a book worthy of your dollar.
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By A Customer on December 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I took months to read this book and only ever reached the stage of being an open-mouthed, lightning-struck bystander. Such a treasure is not often found in one life. I congratulate the authors on feeding us such juicy and tangy fruit.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a 'must read' for ALL Zen/Chan students.
I started Buddhist practice 8 years ago; from the Theravada tradition to the Mahayana. After studying The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma by RedPine; I graduated to the 3 Volumne series of Chan/Zen Teachings by Charles Luk (Lu K'uan Yu). The unfolding history of our forefathers was not completely unknown to me, but a comprehensive understanding of the past was yet to be reached. This book will fill in any gaps, and I recommend it highly to all Chan/Zen practitioners. And of course other interested scholars.
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Format: Paperback
I think my review title sums this up perfect. Never could I image finding such a thorough book that outlines the lineage of zen. It is a great collection of information and something that I will frequently refer to. I enjoy reading and absorbing the brief stories about each one of these zen masters. Though it is a very lengthy text, I found it easy to read. Even taking a few minutes each day to read one section about one zen master is very rewarding. The information about these individual's lives are amazing and I enjoyed hearing about their given names after they had died. I actually spent some time with this author in China and found him to be very knowledgeable. Unfortunately it took me almost ten years after that trip before I actually bought this amazing book. I regret not buying it sooner but realize I am so blessed for having it now. I would highly recommended anyone interested in zen purchasing this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased and received an electronic copy of this book from Amazon. It arrived magically within moments. I'm reading it on my iPad using the free Kindle application. It's great, as the application and iPad allow me to highlight selected text, make notes, add bookmarks, lookup definitions and search the internet for related topics and then it allows me to return to the page from which I started. It is amazing technology. The book itself is a fantastic resource: organized, clearly written and well researched. I appreciate that the authors cite their sources and delineate between legend and historic probability--Bravo!
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For those interested in the journey of Buddhism's essence, as it spread across China from India, this is an outstanding, comprehensive work.

Andy Ferguson brings alive a sparkling, sometimes wild and crazy, cast of characters. The master/student relationship is highlighted, and the chronological order of presentation helps clarify a long story that is often vague in other works.
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