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Thread: ANOTHER BOOK RECOMMENDATION by Jundo: The Song of the Wind in the Dry Tree

  1. #1

    ANOTHER BOOK RECOMMENDATION by Jundo: The Song of the Wind in the Dry Tree

    On the heals of my recent recommendation of Ben Connelly's "Inside the Grass Hut" (LINK), I have a another:

    "The Song of the Wind in the Dry Tree" is a very short book (about 75 pages) of reflections by Philippe Rei Ryu Coupey on a group of poems by Master Dogen and on the Komyozo Zanmai by Master Dogen's right hand man and successor, Koun Ejo. Just wonderful! Rev. Coupey is one of Deshimaru Roshi's original and oldest students, an American who has lived in France most of his life. The book is translated from the French.

    Zen Master Philippe Rei Ryu Coupey is an American, and has been living in Paris for almost forty years. Educated at the Sorbonne, Coupey is a writer and a disciple of the deceased Japanese Soto Zen Master Taisen Deshimaru, continuing the daily practice he was taught. He directs a large European community of monks and nuns and is a member and officer of the International Zen Association founded by Master Deshimaru. Coupey is one of the principal Soto Zen teachers in Europe.

    This book of commentaries given by Zen Master Philippe Coupey covers two 13th-century Japanese texts. In Part I, he's chosen twelve poems from the Sansho Doei, a collection of poetry composed by Master Dogen Zenji between 1245 and 1253. In Part II, Coupey comments on the complete text of Komyozo Zanmai, written in 1278 by Dogen's disciple and successor, Master Koun Ejo. The author's fresh interpretation of these two classic texts rests on an intimate and fundamental experience with this material, beyond space and time. Coupey's words are addressed to the reader's heart, shedding light on our own quest and ratifying the discoveries that we may have made along the way. Clearly, then, the message of this book is not intended to come under the heading of scholarship or to add to our intellectual baggage, but to enrich our spiritual life. The twelve poems from Dogen's Sansho Doei are clear and obvious observations of nature. They comprise a rich facet of Dogen's poetic sensitivity, set entirely in the immediacy of real life, a direct experience of ordinary consciousness. Dogen's poems refer to nature; nonetheless, they speak of the experience of awakening at every opportunity. Even if [Dogen's poems] refer to nature, to landscapes, seashores, the passing of springtime, it is always consciousness that is the subject. Free, natural, ordinary consciousness that is neither for nor against. Coupey, from the commentary In Part II, Coupey's commentary on Ejo's teaching, Komyozo Zanmai, he explains that this timeless teaching is a pure jewel that encapsulates and expresses the purest essence of transmitted Zen. In Coupey's view, this 13th-century treatise is absolutely not different from all that Zen disciples have received through the ages and are, in turn, transmitting today. This is how zazen, the Way, should be studied, Coupey asserts.
    I have rarely encountered a clearer, more powerful presentation of this Soto Way of Just Sitting. Coupey's expression illuminates the Path.

    One caution is that, unlike "Inside the Grass Hut" (which I would recommend for new and old hands alike), I believe that "Song of the Wind" will be best appreciated by folks who have been around Shikantaza/Soto Practice for at least a few months, and are thus rather familiar with the basic approach and significance of, for example, "Goalless" Practice, "Nothing to Obtain", "Practice-Enlightenment", "Form is just Emptiness", Practice Amid Delusion, and the like. Some basic familiarity in what we are all about in Soto Sanghas such as Treeleaf will make the short essays easier to understand. Folks brand new to all this may find it a bit hard to follow sometimes for that reason.

    And after that short book ...

    I will also recommend another, earlier book by Rev. Coupey presenting his comments on Master Dogen's Fukanzazengi, Dogen's basic introduction to Zazen for all! That book is called "Zen, Simply Sitting", and is also short at about only 90 pages. I recommend this older book almost as much, although perhaps it does not read quite as smoothly as "Song of the Wind". Also probably best for folks with some experience and familiarity with the Soto approachless approach.

    I feel that one or both of these books may also make excellent future selections for our Treeleaf "Beyond Words and Letters" Book Discussion Circle.

    Gassho, Jundo


    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2015 at 05:08 AM.

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo ... I have added it to my list. "Inside the Grass Hut" was an amazing read! =)


    Sat today

  3. #3
    Thank you Jundo!

    sat today

  4. #4
    Judging by the cover it looks like a great book. Will get a copy.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  5. #5

    Ordered. (and Amazon donated to American Red Cross! Blessings.)

    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Priest / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Ordered. Thank you as always for the reading suggestion.
    Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

  7. #7
    Oh boy! The list keeps on growing!

    Thank Jundo. I'll get to them both as soon as I can.


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  8. #8
    Thanks Jundo,
    I hope read it in the not so near future...but it is in mylist.
    #Sat Today

  9. #9
    Thanks Jundo !

    Sat Today

  10. #10
    Thank you, Jundo! Inside the Grass Hut is a treasure and one that I continue to ponder every night. I will add these two books to my wish list!


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