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Understanding Zen [Format Kindle]

Benjamin Radcliff , Amy Radcliff

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Written for those who have not heard the sound of one hand clapping, Understanding Zen offers an accessible, logical introduction to Zen philosophy.

The authors provide a radical departure from traditional Zen studies, presenting Zen Buddhism clearly and concisely so it can be readily understood by the uninitiated reader. In fact, they argue that Zen has become shrouded in mystery and dogma and is far more accessible than Westerners are led to believe. The authors' objective is not merely to portray Zen in rational terms, but rather to pint the way toward Zen in a rational and understandable manner. Echoing the true spirit of Zen, they claim that enlightenment is something that is in reach of everyone and that the practice of Zen can be realized by the individual without dependence upon a Master, a guru, or a particular method.

Professing an individual approach to Zen, this book provides the foundation of what one day may be called Western Zen.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 323 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 194 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0804818088
  • Editeur : Tuttle Publishing (12 juillet 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005D7V5V8
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°565.039 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  9 commentaires
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A valuble tool for beginners 8 février 2002
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Have you ever been sitting in meditation, and suddenly realized that you don't really know why you're putting yourself through this kind of torture, or at least can't explain why in a way that really makes rational sense? If you have (as I have), you will understand just how valuable a book like this can be to anyone who is just learning how (and why) to be a Zen practitioner.
First, a little personal background:
I grew up in a generically Protestant, nearly-agnostic, nominally Christian setting. I never really had faith in what I was taught, and as I grew older, I evolved from nearly-agnostic to nearly-atheist. I didn't like the idea of completely denying the spirituality that was undeniably a part of so many people's lives, but I couldn't accept the dogma I grew up with, and nobody else's dogma appealed much to me, either.
I started investigating Buddhism for the shallow reasons common to most Western practitioners: I thought the Dalai Lama was cool, Buddha statues were neat, and I liked the artwork I saw. I started reading about the life of the Buddha, and about various schools of Buddhism. It was still a very uncomfortable search for me, though, because despite the fact that it looked like there really was something deeper there, all the talk of "emptiness" and "illusion" seemed more silly than the beliefs I had already rejected.
Then, about 7 years ago, I stumbled across "Understanding Zen".
The book was very easy to read, and presented its philosophical arguments in a style far lighter than most serious Western philosophical texts, but also far more direct and reasoned than most Eastern philosophical texts. It explained what Zen was about in a way that my rational mind could accept, and it allowed me to say "I am a Buddhist" without feeling like I was claiming to believe things I don't believe.
It helped me to grasp on a rational level the idea that thoughts and concepts, even the concept of self, are all simply tools for the conduct of life. That, in turn, helped me release some of my attachment to these concepts, though obviously it is impossible to achieve true enlightened detachment simply by grasping a new concept.
As a result of reading this book, I suddenly had a rational basis I could use to goad myself into sitting and meditating when I didn't want to. I was suddenly able to actually justify to myself, in words, the things I'd been feeling I needed to do.
I know that the philosophical arguments in this book are incomplete and doubtless have many epistemological flaws, but I think it's far better to talk in concrete terms about the difference between the concept of a thing and the thing itself (and the fact that even the concept that it is a thing is arbitrary) than to prattle on about the reflection of the moon on a still pond and tell people to stop looking at your finger.
Either approach may eventually help someone on the path to clearer understanding and even enlightenment, but the advantage of a more rational approach is that people are less likely to go off worshipping the moon and cutting off your fingers when they miss the point.
I found that after reading this book, I was able to approach Koans and more traditional methods of Zen teaching with a clearer mind, and to sit with one fewer concern to disturb my meditation. You probably won't have a moment of Satori while reading this book, but if you're having difficulty reconciling rationalism with Zen, "Understanding Zen" may be a big help.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Clearest explaination of Zen you'll ever find 19 août 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
If you want a book that's super-easy to read, or you can't handle opening up your mind a little, then give up reading about Zen. Otherwise, buy this book!!! So what if some parts have to be read slowly, a few times over? Take your time and you'll be glad that you did. By nature, Zen challenges our old ideas and offers us perspectives that are totally new (and difficult to grasp) for most Westerners. If you only put a little effort into understanding Zen, you'll find that the Radcliffs do an incredible job of explaining the basic (and not-so-basic) concepts.
Obviously, it take a lifetime (or more) to come to "Enlightenment" so don't expect to comfortably wrap your mind around Zen. After reading the book you might understand Zen at least nearly as well as most people who practice Zen meditation, and that's no small accomplishment!
The only drawback to the book is that the Radcliffs fail to answer the question that plagues most people as they start to learn about Zen: "Does Zen contradict my beliefs? Religious or moral beliefs, in particular." Most of the book at least hints at the answer, but the last section of the book just runs away from it. Instead, they delve into highly opinionated, out-of-place, off-topic ranting. Unless you find it interesting, just skip the last section completely. Take from the book what you can and it'll be more than worth your money!
If you are really worried about Zen going against your religion/morals/etc., then here's my quick answer:
Zen doesn't ask you to believe in any thing, nor does it ask you to give up your beliefs or values. It just challenges you to put them into perspective. If anything, I find that Zen gives me more tolerance, patience, and understanding of other people's views. So go ahead and read all you can about Zen. Meditate. You'll be a better person for it.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the best books I've ever read. There, I said it. 4 octobre 2004
Par Timothy Campbell - Publié sur Amazon.com
I have been wrestling with Zen for 20 years. I caught my first glimpse of it in the book "Godel, Escher, Bach", and as a disaffected-Christian-turned-atheist, I knew Zen was something I needed to pursue. (Yes, yes, "pursue" is precisely the wrong word. Please read on before jumping on me.)

The more I read and studied and meditated, the more I learned. And my conviction grew that here was the way for me. Yet, yet ... something was deeply, seriously wrong. It was this: Zen was too powerful. The practice of Zazen has incredible transformative potential -- so much so that I couldn't help but suspect that some Zen practitioners could become enamoured with an erroneous understanding. This suspicion was finally driven home when a Zen Roshi made me repeat his intro course again, promising to answer my questions but never actually getting around to it. He was, I concluded, in love with his own understanding -- his "way" of, well, grasping Zen. And yes, this time I do mean "grasping" in the pejorative sense.

Stick with me, I WILL get to the book review. There's a reason for this prologue.

My worries were compounded when I sought assistance on Alt.Zen and got naught but baffling blather for answers. In a moment of inspiration, I decided that I'd trying talking the way they talked. Lo and behold, I was now one of them -- so it seemed -- yet I was simply running an algorithm. I then posed the question, "Are you telling me that in 600 years, nobody has come up with a better technique than talking in riddles?" There was no answer -- just advice that I needed to find a good Roshi. "And how do I determine which one is good?" To this question I received no answer whatsoever -- just encouraging noises.

Well, last week I was in the library and happened to pause by the Zen section. My shoulders sagged as I considered facing yet another round of intense effort to find one more tiny piece of the puzzle. For something dealing with the ultimate simplicity, this sure didn't SEEM simple.

I picked up "Understanding Zen" (hey, I told you I'd get around to talking about the book) and within 20 seconds I knew that this was the book I'd been looking for. The authors dared to speak of Zen in Western terms and toss all the oriental idioms that had so confounded me.

And you know what? I got it! I finally got it! It WAS, after all, so simple! So very, very simple, and obvious, and self-evident. What's more, everything written fit perfectly with the tiny nuggets I'd mined by the sweat of my brow over the past two decades.

Incidentally, just because I liked the book doesn't mean everybody will. The list of prerequisites for "getting" it are pretty long. If you can't get through, say, "Godel, Escher, Bach", this book may not be for you. But it was exactly what *I* was looking for.

Let me close by explaining that my ongoing worry has been what has been called "faux Zen". I was raised in a Christian religion that some call a cult. I wasn't going to turn my mind over to the care of a Roshi -- or anybody. If I didn't "get it" myself -- every single step of the way -- I wasn't going to risk it. I've SEEN what "faith" in somebody else can do.

With that perspective, I extend my gratitude to the authors of "Understanding Zen" for speaking plainly and clearly, precisely delineating the limitations of what they can actually impart.

That's all I ever asked for. And that's what this book delivered.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 good intro for a philosophical thinkers 16 septembre 2004
Par Jim Davies - Publié sur Amazon.com
Far from Soothing, this rather disturbing book describes, in a western

philosophy style, the philosophy of Zen, and briefly traces it's

roots. The basic idea is that experiencing of reality means

acknowledging that the concepts we use to understand the world are a

fiction and not a part of the world at all, which is kind of a

non-understandable plenum. I am left with many questions, but in

the end I feel I've learned a lot about Zen.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Excellent Introduction to Zen 4 janvier 2004
Par allison church - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is perhaps the best "first book" for someone interested in Zen (or Eastern philosophy in general) presently available. I first read it two years ago, along with several other introductory texts. It was by far the best. While I would quibble with some things (see below), on whole it is a remarkable book.
Strengths: It presents a difficult subject in an agreeable way. Zen is hardly a straightforward subject, but the book does a commendable job. It works through the strategy of not so much "explaining" what Zen is as leading the reader to untangle the subject for themselves. The tone is a good middle ground between a dialogue with the reader and a conventional academic treatment. The writing is always pleasing--and sometimes beautiful.
Weaknesses: I wish the discussion of mediation had been as inspired as the more intellectual material. The authors discuss the centrality of mediation in Buddhism, and provide some useful suggestions for practicing it, but in general their approach is a bit too cerebral (on this one point). The authors are at pains to draw connections between Zen and mainstream Western philosophy, but they keep this fairly muted--I wish there had been more of this in the text, instead of burying it footnotes. Then again, if you don't much care about, say, Existentialism, you may find this all for the best.
Overall, my sense is that the book will appeal to those who are looking for a (relatively) easy to understand book on Zen and the implications of Zen for ordinary life. I think of it as a more abstract, intellectual background to the ideas that inspire (the Buddhist but of course not Zen) books by the Dalai Lama (such as the Art of Happiness, which I just finished).
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