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The Three Pillars of Zen, 25th Anniversary Updated and Revised Edition Paperback – February 27, 1989
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"The Three Pillars of Zen is still, in my opinion, the best book in English that has been written on Zen Buddhism." —Huston Smith, author of The Worlds' Religions and Forgotten Truth
"The Three Pillars of Zen heralded the end of armchair Buddhism. With this practical guide to Zen meditation, Roshi Kapleau ushered in the first wave of American zazen practitioners. It was extraordinarily inspiring. It still is." —Helen Tworkov, founding editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and author of Zen in America
"For over thirty years Roshi Kapleau's Three Pillars of Zen has been the wellspring of Zen teachings for practitioners in the West, remaining as vital and fresh today as it was when it was originally published. It truly ranks among the timeless classics of Zen Buddhism." —Roshi John Daido Loori, Abbot, Zen Mountain Monastery
"For anyone seriously interested in Zen—this book will be invaluable." —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
Text: English, Japanese (translation)
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Top Customer Reviews
by Philip Kapleau
Now in a 35th Anniversary edition, The Three Pillars of Zen is generally regarded as the "classic" introduction to Zen Buddhism, and along with Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, has probably helped more westerners begin Zen practice than any other book.
The book is a collection of texts which describe Zen Buddhism as encountered by Philip Kapleau in Japan in the 1950's. Kapleau's transmission is Zen as it was taught in particular by Harada-Roshi and Yasutani-Roshi, a synthesis of both the Rinzai and Soto traditions. Harada's and Yasutani's school revitalized Zen in the twentieth century, and their teaching is particularly relevant to Americans as many American Zen teachers today are of their lineage.
The book is in three parts. Part One is titled "Teaching and Practice" and consists of Yasutani's Introductory Lectures on Zen Training (these alone are worth the price of the book), his Commentary (Teisho) on the Koan Mu, and records of his Private Encounters With Ten Westerners (in dokusan). These three sections provide the reader an idea of what Zen training is, how to begin, and hint at the flavor of the process as practiced in Yasutani's school. Part One concludes with a translation of a dharma talk and some letters by the 14th century Japanese master Bassui.
Part Two is titled "Enlightenment" and consists of first-person descriptions of 20th century enlightenment (kensho) experiences. These descriptions are unique and fascinating, and bring the concept of enlightenment a personal relevance - it's not just something that was attained by ancient masters. Of particular interest are the pieces by Kapleau himself, and Kyozo Yamada, both of whom became prominent Zen teachers.
Part Three is a collection of supplements to the text and consists of a brief and mystifying selection from Dogen's writings on "Being-Time", the famous "Ten Oxherding Pictures" with commentary and verse, and an extremely helpful section on sitting postures with common questions and answers.
The 35th Anniversary edition has a new afterward by Bodhin Kjolhede, Kapleau's successor at the Rochester Zen Center, and a terrific glossary of Zen vocabulary and Buddhist doctrine.
While no book can provide a complete in-depth view of the Zen tradition, The Three Pillars of Zen is a comprehensive look at Zen as practiced by a lineage that continues to have great influence in the West. The newcomer to Zen practice will come away from reading this book with clear guidelines about how to begin his or her practice, a fundamental understanding of Zen terminology, and at least a vague idea of what all this Zen talk is about.
This book clearly explains how zen is practiced and taught.
It also gives modest instruction on meditation and koan study. With diagrams and detailed posture instructions.
A really amazing thing is that it gives actual conversations (dokusan) between students and the roshi! Ive never seen these before. After reading these one understands how zen is practiced in sesshin.
It also gives enlightenment experiences of practitioners.
Also this lineage is both soto and rinzai which is really great because it displays the full arsenal of zen teachings without leaning to hard on just shikantaza or just koans. Oddly enough this makes this school unique but in reality the soto school used to teach more like this but for some reason decided to drop kensho focused koan study in the 1800's.
I fully recommend this book ESPECIALLY as an intro to zen!!!
I enjoyed this so much, I'm still meditating daily 47 years later.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read the first 34 pages and put it away.
First my experiences with zazen.Read more