Written for the neophyte who has no prior knowledge of the subject, Buddhism and Zen defines basic terms, translates key words, and answers the ten most frequently asked questions that are posed by Westerners interested in Zen Buddhism. Much of the Western world's interest in Zen is based on our growing awareness that the literal, the pragmatic, and the rational, while useful, often fail to explain the phenomena of the emotions, the unconscious, and the subconscious. Insights gleaned from psychoanalysis and various other forms of therapy have better prepared us for noncognitive enlightenment and paradox and non sequitur—it is no longer an unthinkable step from "The first shall be last and the last shall be first" to "The way that can be described is not the true way" and "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The Buddha said, "If you try to see me through my form, or if you try to hear me through my voice, you will never reach me and will remain forever a stranger to my teaching."
This readable primer, first published in 1953 and long out of print, is a concise compendium of essential information for the seeker who wishes to explore Zen Buddhism.
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Nyogen Senzaki, a colleague of Dr. D.T. Suzuki, was one of the first Zen masters to come from Japan to the United States. He is the author of Like a Dream, Like a Fantasy.
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Ruth Strout McCandless studied at Stanford University and Claremont Graduate School and in 1941 began her association with Senzaki. In 1955, while under the tutelage of Soen Nakagawa at Ryutaku-ji, she became the first Western woman to stay at a Zen monastery. She was one of the editors of The Iron Flute, a collection of ancient Zen koans with essays by Senzaki.