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An Introduction to Zen Training Paperback – May 1, 2002
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese
About the Author
Omori Sogen (1904—1994) began his formal training in Zen, kenjutsu (traditional swordsmanship), and calligraphy in his early twenties, and was a widely respected sword teacher and advisor to the Japanese Cabinet. After WWII, he entered the priesthood in the Tenryu-ji Rinzai lineage. For the next forty years he continued to teach swordsmanship, calligraphy, and Zen, while also writing twenty books and serving as a court magistrate, eventually becoming President of Hanazono Daigaku, the principle Rinzai university in Japan. He established the International Zen Dojo in Hawaii and founded Daihonzan Chozen-ji in Honolulu—the first headquarters temple in Rinzai Zen established under canon law outside Japan.
Sanzen Nyumon was translated from the Japanese by Hosogawa Dogen Roshi--Abbot of Daihonzan Chozen-ji and a dharma successor of Omori Sogen Rotaishi—and Roy Yoshimoto.
With an introduction by Trevor Leggett, author of A First Zen Reader, Zen and the Ways, and many other books on Zen, Taoism, and Asian philosophy.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is arranged into 7 chapters, but it’s only the first five of these that are the author’s introduction to Zen meditation. These five chapters are logically arranged to cover the ground from why one should practice to what effects it will have with consideration of the aims, technique, and pitfalls covered in between. The last two chapters are commentaries on (including text from) a couple of the key documents of Zen Buddhism: “A Song of Zen” (Zazen Wazen) and “The Ten Oxherding Pictures.”
There are black and white graphics. First, there are line drawings used to convey information about posture and the physical body in meditation. Second, there are a few photographs of the author, including his dōjō and in the practice of swordsmanship. The author was a skilled swordsman; hence my tagging of this book in “martial arts,” as there may be some interest among martial artists in the author’s take as one who straddled the two worlds of Zen and Budō. Finally, there are also copies of the ten ox herding pictures that go with the verse.
I think this book is well-organized and provides a beginner an excellent introduction to the practice of Zen. I didn’t really note any major deficiencies, and will thus recommend it as a good resource for anyone considering taking up a Zen practice or wanting to learn more about doing so. I should point out that the book does also get into the philosophical aspects of Zen, but if one isn’t looking for information about how to practice then there may be books more oriented toward one’s needs. Despite the fact that the book is a translation, it’s clear and readable. As I said, it includes stories—including those about Japanese warriors as well as Zen masters—and that helps to break up the dryness of what is at its core an instructional manual.