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    (ANOTHER) "The most important book about Zen in the West"

    Following Taigu's recent recommendation of Taigen Leighton's "Zen Questions" as "the most important book about Zen in the West" ...

    I would like to introduce another book ... Shohaku Okumura's "Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts" as also ANOTHER "The most important book about Zen in the West" ... especially for those wishing to go a bit deeper into the significance and origins of some of the traditional chants and practices one will encounter around Treeleaf and most other Soto Zen Sangha. Okumura Sensei goes deeply into the ancient meanings ... while at the same time keeping it real and grounded for our modern times. I would recommend it perhaps a little more for those with a bit of sitting under their belt, rather than our new new beginners.

    From the jacket ...

    This immensely useful book explores Zen’s rich tradition of chanted liturgy and the powerful ways that such chants support meditation, expressing and helping us truly uphold our heartfelt vows to live a life of freedom and compassion. Exploring eight of Zen’s most essential and universal liturgical texts, Living by Vow is a handbook to walking the Zen path, and Shohaku Okumura guides us like an old friend, speaking clearly and directly of the personal meaning and implications of these chants, generously using his experiences to illustrate their practical significance. A scholar of Buddhist literature, he masterfully uncovers the subtle, intricate web of culture and history that permeate these great texts. Esoteric or challenging terms take on vivid, personal meaning, and old familiar phrases gain new poetic resonance. ...

    ... and a review ...

    The words of introduction ‘Okumura guides us like an old friend, with a sure and gentle hand’ are a most accurate description for it. It soons become clear that our author is not only a renowned scholar of Buddhist literature but he is a dedicated practitioner as well. The title takes us right into the first chapter on the Four Bodhisattva Vows. With each chapter Okumura first looks at the title in their original language as a way of pointing to the underlying meaning. From this he develops a rich and insightful understanding which for me certainly brings the chant alive ... he does this with not only the Four Vows but also with ... the Verse of Repentance ... He goes on with the Three Refuges, The Robe Chant, The Meal Chants, the Heart Sutra, Merging of Difference and Unity and finally Opening the Sutra.

    And here is a sample chapter, on the "Verse of the Kesa" for all our Rakusu sewers ...

    I have added it to our "Recommended Book List" ...

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-10-2012 at 12:49 AM.

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