Annotated Bibliography on Chan, Zen, Seon and Thien Buddhism (of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam)  

© Copyright 2018 by Timothy Conway, PhD

This lengthy annotated book-list and media-list is designed to provide a much fuller and more “colorful” bibliographic resource for my upcoming encyclopedic tome (hopefully to be released in late 2025)  Liberating Zen Sourcebook: A Treasure-Trove of Crucial History, Sages, Texts, Phrases, Places and Art of Chinese Chán, Korean Seon, Japanese Zen and Vietnamese Thiền Buddhism.  

NOTE: An excellent site oriented primarily to Japanese Zen traditions and western scholarship on various aspects of Chán/Zen/Seon is, where one finds many informative articles, book chapters and book reviews. See TheZenSite’s extensive bibliography, grouped by subject, with quick links to for many books, at .


NOTE: A beautifully illustrated, multi-faceted and very extensive resource specifically on Korea’s Seon/Sŏn Buddhist masters, their teachings, and famous Seon temples is the website for the Jogye/Chogye Order of Seon Buddhism, at

NOTE: Many Wikipedia pages now feature leading persons, places, sects and other topics concerning ancient and modern Chán, Zen, Seon and Thien Buddhism (as well as other schools of Buddhism).

NOTE: Probably the finest overall educational film on Japanese Zen is “Zen: In Search of Enlightenment” (Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 1993), 2 hours long, focusing on all aspects of monastic life at Shogenji Rinzai monastery in Gifu prefecture, with substantial sections on Zen’s Chán origins, Zen’s influence on Japan’s arts, and Zen enlightenment. Another excellent resource is the introductory video, “Life of Zen,” featuring life at the head Sōtō Zen temples Eihei-ji and Sōji-ji, viewable for free at The best docu-drama film is also Sōtō-Zen related, a recent movie about the life, practices and teaching of Sōtō-founder Dōgen Zenji, simply entitled, “Zen,” in Japanese with English subtitles (Banmei Takahashi, director/screenwriter; starring Kantaro Nakamura as Dogen; Kadokawa Pictures, 2009; 127 minutes). For the Chinese Chán context, see Edward Burger’s three films (from “Vows” (following seven ordinands at a Triple Platform Ordination Ceremony, filmed at the Bailin-si monastery in Hebei; 2013, 37 mins.), “Alms” (examining life at Zhenru-si monastery in Jiangxi; 2010, 26 mins.), and “One Mind” (also focused on Zhenru-si, scheduled for release in 2016). For the Korean Seon context, see the less informational, quite “minimalist,” but deeply experiential film Zen Buddhism: In Search of Self, primarily about the 90-day silent winter retreat time for two dozen Seon nuns at Baek Hung monastery in the Palgong mountains near Daegu, followed by footage of some of their activities on break (director: Gong Jae-Sung, Turtle Press, 2007, 65 mins.).

NOTE: “Chán” is the modern Pinyin transliteration; “Ch’an” is the old Wade-Giles transliteration. Throughout the following bibliographic resource I primarily utilize the Pinyin system of transliteration but have kept the “Ch’an” spelling for author’s book-titles, quotations, etc.

NOTE: Many of the following books are simply about how to practice Zen and be inspired by Zen, whereas the more scholarly books are about Zen as a set of phenomena for the historian’s critical eye, revealing an often heavily mythologized and/or polemical sense of religious identity on the part of Zen chroniclers.

NOTE: I have largely resisted breaking up the following list into too many subject groups, such as “General,” “early Chinese Chán,” “later Chán,” “early Japanese Zen,” “Korean Seon,” “Vietnamese Thien,” “women and Zen,” etc. I have separated out just three subject areas from the main list: At the beginning and most important, are revisionist scholarly works on early Chinese Chán, featuring Hu Shih, Yanagida Seizan, John McRae, Bernard Fauré, Jeffrey Broughton, Peter Gregory, Chang Chung-yuan, Mario Poceski, Jinhua Jia, Alan Cole, Albert Welter, Morten Schlutter, Philip Yampolsky, Dale Wright, Steven Heine, Peter Hershock, Whalen Lai, Wendi Adamek, Thomas Cleary, and J.C. Cleary. At the end of the central book list, I have created two small subject lists: Critics of Zen and Zen Books by Western Religionists.” All other titles are lumped together, alphabetized by author’s last name and where there is a major historical figure whose talks or writings are being translated and/or analyzed, I have prioritized that name over the name of the modern-era translator/editor/commentator. But just to highlight for easy reference authors in this central list whose works here could easily be grouped into distinct subject headings, I draw attention to, on the topic of Korean Seon/Sŏn, the names of Jinul/Chinul, Taego, Seosan/Sŏsan, Robert Buswell, Hee-sung Keel, Hanam Jungwon, Daehaeng Gun Sunim, Seongcheol Gun Sunim, Gusan/Kusan Sunim, Seung Sahn, Mu Soeng, Brian Barry, Chris Verebes, Peter Lee, Hwansoo Kim, Martine Batchelor, Chungwhan Sung, Eun-su Cho, and Won-chun Kim. On Vietnamese Thien, see Cuong Tu Nguyen, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Thanh Tu, Thich Thien-an, Le Manh That (Thich Tri Sieu), and Dinh Minh Chi (et al.). And on the topic of women and Zen, see works by Beata Grant, Miriam Levering, Sallie Tisdale, Shundo Aoyama, Daehaeng Kun Sunim, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Martine Batchelor & Songyong Sunim, Charlotte Joko Beck, Sallie King, Sachiko & Robert Morrell, Paula Kane Robinson Arai, Chungwhan Sung, Maura O’Halloran, Jiyu Kennett, Isabel Stirling, Grace Schireson, Ellen Sidor, Sandy Boucher, Helen Tworkov (her chapter on Maurine Stuart), and Arthur Braverman (his chapter on Motoko Ikebe in Braverman, 2003).



Revisionist Scholarly Works on Early Chinese Chán

(Essential reading to clear up previous myths and gaps. These are presented in rough order of the historical subjects covered, though much overlap occurs among many books here.)


Broughton, Jeffrey, The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Berkeley / Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1999). Broughton distinguishes the earliest material (likely authentic?) from later myths about Bodhidharma or Bodhidharmatara (d. c530), the 5th-6th century Buddhist monk who brought the intuitive way of Chán understanding and meditation from India to China and taught disciples including Huike, Yuan, Daoyu, and others. Broughton observes, “Of the ten texts we now have attributed to Bodhidharma or claiming to present his teaching, the one generally held to contain material that is authentic in some sense is the Bodhidharma Anthology, which itself is composed of seven texts.” (p. 4) This is what D.T. Suzuki called the “Long Scroll” and “Miscellaneous Records.” Broughton translates all of them, including the short (slightly over 2-pages in English translation) but extremely influential Chán text, Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, which he and his scholarly colleagues think was compiled (along with a very spare, 1-page account of Bodhidharma) by Chinese Sanskritist Tanlin (a disciple of Huike), active in the mid-6th cent. in northern China. (John McRae: “This treatise was accepted by a community of Bodhidharma’s successors [Huike, et al.] as embodying his teachings.”). Broughton also translates the 1½-page First Letter, probably either by Tanlin or by Bodhidharma’s chief disciple Huike (c487-c555); the ½-page Second Letter, apparently by Layman Xiang, another pupil of Huike. And then Broughton focuses on the really interesting Record I (24 pages), Record II (6 pages) and Record III (7 pages), which feature teachings of Bodhidharma, Huike, and the largely forgotten but important Master Yuan, a leading disciple of Bodhidharma, adding evidence to the modern scholarly finding that a unilineal descent of Chán successorship from Bodhidharma through Huike is a later fabrication. What Broughton’s translation also makes clear is that many of the “proto-Chan” teachers whose answers and sayings are quoted in the three Records are clearly heavily influenced by the Mādhyamika/Sānlùn Buddhist tradition and its heavy use of paradox, negation, deconstruction and “Emptiness” teachings.

Andy Ferguson, Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press, 2012). Part travelogue recounting the author’s roaming in modern China and part discussion of scholarly surmises and non-scholarly myths, this easily-read work adds some more to what has been previously presented on Bodhidharma by scholars like Jeffrey Broughton and John McRae based on their work and the work of earlier mostly Japanese scholars. The particular merit of Ferguson’s work is bringing some scholarly Chinese sources to bear on his subject. Even here, the result of all this tracking of Bodhidharma still leaves mostly probabilities, not established facts about the alleged “founder of Chan/Zen Buddhism.”

Chappell, David, “The Teachings of the Fourth Ch’an Patriarch Tao-hsin (580-651),” in Whalen Lai & Lewis Lancaster, Eds., Early Ch’an in China and Tibet, Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1983, pp. 89-129. A key article showing what can actually be known with some degree of probability about the life and teachings of Daoxin (Tao-hsin; 580-651), who is revered as the “4th Patriarch” or Ancestor of Chán. Yet, because there is not much link between him and the earlier figures Bodhidharma and Huike of the loose “proto-Chan” movement, and because there seems to be a link between Daoxin and the Tiantai Buddhist tradition, and, further, because of his own innovations of a settled, monastic life of meditation, he may be viewed as the 1st Patriarch/Ancestor of a bonafide early “Chan Buddhist” institutional tradition, located at Huangmei in central China, where he taught from the early 620s onward until his death in 651. Chappell also introduces, analyzes and translates the Rudao anxin yao fangbian famen (Wade Giles: Ju-tao an-hsin yao fang-pien fa-men), a body of teachings attributed to Daoxin, put together in the early 700s as part of the Lengqie Renfa zhi (Leng-chia Jen Fa chi), the “Records of the Men and Teachings of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra,” by Xuanze, a disciple of Daoxin’s successor, the 5th Patriarch Hongren. Chappell’s article is available on the internet as a PDF file. J.C. Cleary has translated the Lengqie Shizi ji, which included the Lengqie Renfa zhi and its subtext, the Rudao anxin yao fangbian famen of Daoxin, in his book Zen Dawn (see below).


Shih, Hu, “Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method,” Philosophy East & West, 3.1 (Jan., 1953): 3-24. Archived at Hugely informative, seminal essay by Chinese historian Hu Shi (Hu Shih, 1891-1962), a former ambassador to the USA (1938-42) and chancellor of Peking University (1946-8). On the basis of long-lost 8th-9th century manuscripts found in the early 20th century near the ancient northwestern China oasis town Dunhuang (Tun-huang), Hu Shih, beginning in the 1930s and then most clearly in this 1953 essay persuasively presented his “new history of the Chinese Ch’an (Zen) movement.” To wit: the notion of “Huineng’s superior, sudden-enlightenment Southern School” of Chán was invented by the duplicitous Chán monk and public evangelist Heze Shenhui (684-758) from 730 onward to trump what Shenhui maligned as the inferior “gradual-enlightenment Northern School.” The so-called “Northern School” was led by Shenxiu (Shen-hsiu, 606-706), the most renowned disciple of 5th Patriarch Hongren (Hung-jen, 601-74), whose “East Mountain” Chán movement flourished at Huangmei in the lower Yangzi River area of present-day Hubei, followed by Shenxiu’s teaching work about 280 miles to the west at Jade Spring Temple (outside Dangyang) and then up at the Tang empire’s capital cities of Chang’an and Luoyang. In a series of public debates in 730, 731, 732 in Shandong and thereafter, such as when he took up residence at Luoyang in 745, Shenhui propagandized a bogus claim that his teacher Huineng (about whom legends were then penned at Shenhui’s behest) was the real 6th Chán Patriarch, and not Shenxiu. The fact is that Huineng was during his own life relatively unknown and appears only as number eight on an early 8th-century list of ten or eleven capable disciples of Hongren. By marked contrast, Shenxiu, first on the list, and authorized successor of Hongren according to the Jingjue Record (the Lengqie Shizi ji by Jingjue 713-20), was the most prominent Buddhist monk of the time, invited in 701 by Empress Wu Zetian to the court and enormously honored as leader of the Chán movement which grew to tremendous popularity during the rest of his years (and new Chán monasteries were built by the imperial court inspired by him). Thus Shenxiu is “perhaps the most important historical personage in all of early Chan,” as scholar John McRae declares. Hu Shih points out that obviously Shenhui was interested in being seen as the 7th Patriarch so he had to promote Huineng as the 6th Patriarch. Shenhui was banished four times by various regimes for his religiously subversive behavior before he finally achieved great prestige for his popular oratory prowess in raising funds for the government. It is reported that in the early 800s emperor Dezong retrospectively annointed Shenhui of Heze as the “7th Patriarch,” the seventh-generation ancestor in Bodhidharma's “Southern” tradition. “Southern School” practitioners enjoyed new patronage and then a stampede of recruits, which seems to have been a major factor in the rise and spread of Mazu’s Hongzhou school (tracing itself back to Huineng), out of which arose the so-called “five families of Chan” (two of which, the Linji and Caodong schools, later migrated to Japan as Rinzai and Soto Zen). Shenhui’s nasty crusade against what he had dubbed the “Northern School” thus was something of a belated success, and the latter—the Ven. Shenxiu’s “East Mountain Chan” inherited from Hongren—died out in most areas of China by the 9th and 10th centuries. The An Lushan rebellion and civil war in northern China from 755-763 and the later destruction and decline of great cosmopolitan cities of Chang’an and Luoyang, where the “Northern School” had held prominence with Shenxiu and his successors, were certainly immense factors in creating a vacuum that better allowed the Hongzhou school (in modern Jiangxi province) to arise, spread and become institutionally dominant.


McRae, John, The Northern School of Chinese Ch’an Buddhism (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1986, reissued in 2005). Crucial scholarly work by the late John McRae (d.2011) to retrieve “hidden history.” After providing great insight on the facts about the “proto-Chan” era of Bodhidharma and Huike (making for good complementary reading along with Broughton, The Bodhidharma Anthology), and then focusing on Sengcan (a “cipher” to historians), McRae shows us at length what can be known about the actual first bonafide “Chan” movement to gain wide acceptance, the “East Mountain Dharma Gate” (Dung-shan Fa-men) Chán group which flourished for some 50 years near Huangmei town, first at Shuangfeng-shan (“Twin Peak Mountain”), led by the so-called “4th Patriarch” Daoxin (580-651) from 624 on until “5th Patriarch” Hongren (601-74) took over in 651 and moved the community to Dongshan (“East Mountain”) several miles to the east. The Chán movement was then led after his passing by his disciple, the true “6th Patriarch” Shenxiu (Shen-hsiu, 606-706), who relocated to the Yuquan and Dumen temples 280 miles west of Huangmei near Dangyang, before he was royally brought up to the capital city Luoyang in 701 at the appreciative command of Empress Wu Zetian. The Chán movement then flourished for several generations at China’s two great northern cities, Luoyang and Chang’an, the world’s greatest cosmopolitan centers of that era, through the work of Shenxiu and his colleagues and successors Puji (651-739), Yifu (661-736), Jingxian, Huifu, et al. from around the 680s. Their movement would be retrospectively labeled the “Northern School” by propagandist Shenhui (684-758) and denigrated in contrast to a supposedly superior “Southern School” which Shenhui saw himself as inheriting from Huineng, a minor disciple of Hongren. For more on this and other historical dynamics of Chan’s formation from “proto-Chan” to “early Chan” to “middle Chan” to Song-dynasty Chán (960-1279), see McRae’s equally brilliant, “must-read” work of analysis, Seeing Through Zen: Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chán Buddhism (Berkeley/L.A.: Univ. of California Press, 2003). In this latter work, McRae discusses new, key issues in Chan’s historical development, such as how Song-dynasty Chán transformed the emphasis from “unipolar” individual meditation/wisdom practice to a romanticized picture of “bipolar” interpersonal encounter dialogue (featuring dramatic confrontation, non sequiturs and very colloquial, paradoxical language) with the publication in 952 of the landmark Zutang-ji, “Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall,” for which imperial imprimatur was sought and gained, followed by many other highly public, extremely influential, and quite contrived copy-cat texts of the “transmission history” genre: the voluminous Chuandenglu in 1004; the Guangdenglu in 1036; Xudenglu in 1101; Liandeng huiyao in 1183; Pudenglu in 1204; and Wudeng huiyuan in 1252. This and the creation of highly selective, clearly traced genealogical “families” of “enlightened masters” fit perfectly into the ancient Chinese devotion to genealogies of revered Ancestors and, along with self-serving myths that the Chán monasteries and their masters stayed above government politics, fund-raising efforts and proselytizing (simply meditating and “farming their fields”), all worked as factors to help “Chan lineages take control of the Chinese Buddhist monastic institution or at least its highest leadership positions” early in the Song era. McRae studied with renowned Chán historian Yanagida Seizan from 1973-5, and his works help bring to a wider audience Yanagida’s views, as well as McRae’s own many valuable insights. Hopefully other writings in process by McRae before his untimely death in 2011 will find posthumous publishing.


Fauré, Bernard, Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Genealogy of Northern Chán Buddhism (Stanford Univ. Press, 1997). Based on the author’s 1984 PhD dissertation in French for the University of Paris, this book on the history and doctrines of Shenxiu’s inheritance of the “East Mountain teaching,” what later came to be known as the so-called “Northern School Chán,” has been superceded, humbly says Fauré, by John McRae’s The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism (1986). Yet Fauré, a prodigious scholar with vast expertise on a wide range of Chan and Zen topics, provides here a massive amount of data, connections, and insights not found in McRae’s book—for instance, on Shenxiu and arguments about the primacy of Shenxiu over Huineng in real Chán history, and the falsification of that history by Shenhui. Fauré also examines relations among the Chán, Huayan and Tiantai factions of Buddhism to paint a richer picture of the background doctrines and practices underlying the ministries of Daoxin, Hongren and Shenxiu. He also carefully looks at, among other things, Jingjue’s Lengqie Shizi ji, one of our earliest “Chan transmission” texts.

      Fauré’s more sweeping text, The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chán/Zen Buddhism (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991) earned reviewer Stephen Teiser’s praise (in Journal of Religion): “Not since D. T. Suzuki (1870-1966) has any responsible scholar attempted in English to synthesize such a broad stretch of the history of Zen Buddhism as has Bernard Faure.... [The book] offers the best narration in English of the role that magicians, healers, jesters, relics, mummies, dreams, funerals, deities, and mundane rituals play in a tradition that lays claim to emptiness.” In other words, Fauré shows that, while Chan texts claim immediacy, there are actually all sorts of mediations in Chan such as the aforementioned elements. In the 2005 Introduction to the already obsolete 2-volume “Zen history” by Heinrich Dumoulin, part of its obsolence due to this book by Fauré, Victor Sogen Hori observes that Fauré has “argued that what Ch’an/Zen preached in rhetoric, it failed to practice in fact. In rhetoric, Zen espoused nonduality and the identity of opposites, resistance to hierarchy and established authority, rejection of magic, etc. In historical and institutional fact, it practiced differentiation and distinction, supported social hierarchy, employed magic, etc. Indeed, the impression one receives after reading The Rhetoric of Immediacy is that all of Zen is engaged in a vast game of deception, violating its own rhetoric at every turn.”

      See also Fauré, Chán Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chán Tradition (Princeton, 1993), which presents a “topology” of Chan and opens Chan studies to critical questions raised by academics in other fields. All these early works by Fauré, a close pupil of Yanagida Seizan from 1975 on, can be said to expose many false claims and inventions contained within Chan’s transmission lore, while mapping out the more interesting facts and connections that can realistically be known. See the main bibliography for more recent works by Fauré on additional Zen-related topics.


Cleary, J.C., Tr., Zen Dawn: Early Zen Texts from Tun Huang (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1986/2001). These three texts selected by Cleary—discovered among the treasures in the Dunhuang manuscript library in northwestern China—are, along with works translated by Broughton (1999) and McRae (1986), among some of the earliest known writings on Chán, shedding light on the dynamics of Chán at that early stage of development. The three texts, including a probable very early treasure unrecognized by Cleary, include, in order of importance: 1) the surely misattributed Bodhidharma’s Treatise on Contemplating Mind (Guanxin lun). This text in question-answer format, the second text translated in Cleary’s book (pp. 81-102), is not actually the teachings of Bodhidharma to his disciple Huike, as it appears and as Cleary presumes with his title for this section, but rather is a fictional dialogue “unquestionably” written, say John McRae and Bernard Fauré, by none other than Shenxiu (606-706, “the real 6th Patriarch”), and datable to the last quarter of the 7th century from Shenxiu’s Yuquan temple period. If Shenxiu in fact wrote or dictated this, the Guanxin lun is the first text known to us to have actually been written by a Chán master, not by a disciple of a master. 2) Records of the Teachers & Students of the Lanka (Lengqie Shizi ji), by Jingjue, a disciple of Shenxiu and of Xuanze, another successor (after Shenxiu) of “5th Patriarch” Hongren. Placed as the first text Cleary translates, this interesting work is pegged by John McRae to between 713-16, and dated to 713-720 by Yanagida Seizan; 62 pages in Cleary’s English translation, it features various accounts of the Chán patriarchs of the so-called “Northern School” and their teachings, including further teachings from Shenxiu as well as the Rudao anxin yao fangbian famen of Daoxin, though Alan Cole (2009) has seriously questioned whether the teachings in this work are actually by the masters profiled or by the compiler Jingjue, a monk of the Northern School. 3) Treatise on Sudden Enlightenment, another work of the Northern School, this features questions and answers illuminating the true nature of “sudden enlightenment” as pure, undifferentiated awareness, and was composed in the mid-700s by Huiguang (a disciple of Lao-an and of Shenhui—the same Shenhui who later turned against what he denigrated as the “Northern School” with his own agenda). Cleary’s Introduction omits the scholarly background material one would like to have for these texts (one must find it scattered, passim, in McRae, 1986, and elsewhere), but the Introduction is well worth reading for its cogency on larger issues such as the fluid nature of enlightened teaching and the dangers of fixed dogmas and parochial positions.

Zeuschner, Robert, “An Analysis of the Philosophical Criticisms of Northern Ch’an Buddhism,” PhD dissertation, University of Hawaii, 1977. Zeuschner tackles the longstanding charges by propagandist Shenhui of the “Southern School” of Chan Buddhism that the so-called “Northern School” of Shenxiu, et al., was quietist, dualistic, and teaching an inferior path of gradual enlightenment. Zeuschner shows how Shenhui and his Southern School were attached to “Absolute level” discourse (paramartha-satya) and the strict prajna-wisdom approach, whereas Shenxiu and his colleagues were more willing to use both Absolute-truth teachings and also pragmatic, compassionate, relative-truth teachings (samvrti-satya) as a form of upaya, skillful means, to help liberate fellow sentient beings. Zeuschner’s dissertation, worth reading for anyone still confused on this point, is archived at


Cole, Alan, Fathering Your Father: The Zen of Fabrication in Tang Buddhism (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 2009). Coming from a postmodernist background of skeptical literary analysis, and influenced by his advisors in the 1980s, the critical scholars T. Griffith Foulk and Robert Sharf, the brilliant Alan Cole delivers a massive deconstruction effort, a sequel to his book Text As Father, which was a broadside attack on self-aggrandizing Mahayana rhetoric in certain early texts (see further below). This time Cole delves much further into some issues of “Chan Buddhist textuality” opened up by Yanagida Seizan, John McRae, Bernard Fauré, et al. Cole begins by studying how Guanding’s strategic hagiographies of the eminent pre-Chan Chinese Buddhist leader Zhiyi (d.597 CE, f. of Tiantai) and Sanjie Jiao sect-leader Xinxing’s (d.594) telling of his own story were fashioned to render these two men into “Chinese quasi-buddhas” for the sake of currying favor with the ruling class and proving that “Real Buddhism” had successfully and formidably been transplanted from India to China. Cole examines the similar narrative rhetoric of subsequent early Chan genealogies or lineage texts from the 7th and 8th-centuries. He begins with a new contextualization for the Shaolin monks’ much-studied Inscription for Faru (d.689), then Du Fei’s Chuan fabao ji, followed by Jingjue’s Lengqie shizi ji, and finally three works associated with Huineng-promoter Shenhui (d.758). Each of these advances the claim that certain high-profile Chinese monks were the descendants of Bodhidharma and Sakyamuni who now “own” and “embody” the “totality of the Buddhist tradition.” As the book description notes, Cole “argues that early Chan’s image of the perfect-master-who-owns-tradition was constructed for reasons having little to do with Buddhist practice, new styles of enlightened wisdom, or ‘orthodoxy,’ and much more to do with politics, property, geography, and new forms of writing.” The fiercely iconoclastic, cynical Cole basically sees the early aforementioned texts as works of various conniving, envious authors acting unscrupulously “in bad faith” by deploying fraud and fabrication to hijack Buddhist tradition for the sake of legitimizing a “Chan School lineage” that these authors created out of thin air and then steered toward their own ends. Cole’s longest chapter (pp. 209-306) especially eviscerates Shenhui (684-758) and at least one disciple-author for their “shameless” duplicity in reinventing Chan tradition for Shenhui’s own advancement, manipulating the public via cunning rhetorical polemicizing, maligning Shenxiu (d.706, the major Chan spiritual leader at the Tang capitals) and viciously, verbally attacking Shenxiu’s chief disciple Puji (d.739) for the sake of promoting Shenhui and his teacher Huineng. But Cole sees Shenhui as just taking to a whole new level of “lying” and “stealing” the attempt to “own Real Buddhism” started by the Shaolin community and then by Du Fei and Jingjue in their pseudo-historical chronicles. There are many conclusions Cole comes to that surely have ruffled and rankled the scholars like the late John McRae (d.2011) and Bernard Fauré who wrote extensively about the “Northern School” tradition of the Ven. Shenxiu. Such as when Cole denies any validity to Du Fei’s and Jingjue’s claim that Shenxiu was the leading disciple of Hongren. Indeed, Cole flat-out states, on the basis of his deconstruction of Du Fei, “there is no reason to imagine that Shenxiu ever met Hongren” (p. 171), a conclusion that seems unwarranted by the amount of what looks to be more reliable inscription data written soon after Shenxiu’s lavishly commemorated passing in 706. An appreciative review of Cole’s work, albeit with some caveats and critique, is Morten Schlütter’s review for History of Religions, 51.1 (Aug. 2011): 86-89.

      Much of Cole’s methodology is pre-figured in his seminal, highly original and mostly quite persuasive prequel work, Text As Father: Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature (Univ. of California Press, 2005), which looks at the “politics of textuality” and “the origin and function of Mahāyāna rhetoric” in the Lotus Sūtra, Diamond Sūtra, Tathāgatagarba Sūtra and Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa Sūtra—texts all very important for the later Chán tradition, which is why this book of Cole’s is also reviewed here. Cole, looking for manipulative plot rather than edifying content, shows how these texts—which stand in here for a large body of Mahāyāna literature and later Chan literature as well—erect new “fatherly” images of Buddhist authority and “offer a full conversion experience in which the reader formally ‘kills’ his or her relationship to older forms of Buddhist authority in order to be initiated into this new textual form of Buddhism.” “Thematics such as ‘staged negativity’ or ‘performed demolition of prior forms of authority and tradition’ become crucial pieces of the puzzle for figuring out how these texts work as reading experiences.” “The father-son trope [“text as father”]… maps well on to the basic divide between text and reader: the text, in the role of the progenitor, claims to have the timeless overview onto the origins of truth, value, and being; the reader, on the other hand, is cast as the son unaware of his origin and his ‘preestablished’ relationship to these larger realities, even as he is positioned as one desperately in need of rejoining his legitimate ‘ground of being.’… Thus lurking here is a form of that fundamental configuration found throughout the world’s religions: admit that the theory of immaculate identity is itself immaculately conceived, that is, not a theory, not language about language, and so on, but simply the truth, and you will have your own form of immaculate identity.” “Many of the Mahayana sutras evince a deep-seated insecurity that is absent in pre-Mahayanic works. Thus one regularly finds a variety of passages dedicated to threatening what happens to those who do not accept the text, just as the texts regularly spend large portions of their dialogues advertising the merit and value to be won from simply accepting the text as valid. In effect, Mahayana sutras regularly seem insecure about their rights to be ‘speaking’ in the first place and consequently build for themselves complex economies of threats and promises in which Buddhist practice and authenticity is condensed around the recipient’s relationship to the discourse.” “The deepest irony here is that one first ignores the narrative as physical text in order to give full presence to the paternal figures produced in the rhetoric, even as these figures then instruct the reader to return to the text as object and treat it as their direct representative.” Cole also writes: “Whereas other researchers have been interested in using epigraphy, art, architecture, and travel memoirs to rewrite what now appear as unlikely and untenable histories of early Mahayana Buddhism, I have chosen literary analysis, with a focus on narrative dynamics and the various strategies employed for luring the reader away from traditional Buddhist ideas and practices [over to a Mahāyāna allegiance].” Cole insightfully exposes the clever intrigues and deceitful tricks of this type of literature, as he also does with the incipient Chan chronicles in his book Fathering Your Father. Sounding rather like Sigmund Freud on occasion, he even speaks of the “hysteria” in the tone of these Mahayana texts, how they “humiliate” and “abuse” prior tradition, and the “nausea” and “claustrophobia” induced by many passages.

      Sometimes Cole goes too far: on p. 41 of Text As Father, he lets slip his postmodernist bias on a subject of immense importance for Buddhists, Chan/Zen practitioners and mystics worldwide: “Though most modern scholars would not want to include as historical events splendiferous flowers falling from the sky or bejeweled reliquaries spontaneously bursting from the ground, still these same scholars seem to find discourses on the purification of the self through meditation, or the successful realization of one’s true nature, as nonfantastic and acceptable prima facie. However, with a bit of reflection, these more philosophic- and soteriological-sounding items might seem as mythic and impossible as magical flowers and jumping reliquaries.” This denigration of the very possibility of opening or awakening to a non-phenomenal, non-reifiable Reality, Buddha-nature or (supra-personal) True Self comes out in full in his Chapter 5 discussion of the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra. Cole has evidently been biased by the Steven Katz (et al.) camp of postmodernist reductionism (see Katz, Ed., Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, Oxford Univ. Press, 1978), seeing all spiritual/mystic experiencing as conditioned, constructed and phenomenal. He would do well to review the serious counter-arguments against the postmodernist view by other scholars of religion and philosophy such as Robert Forman, Huston Smith, Ken Wilber, et al. For an excellent set of essays, see Forman, Ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy (Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), whose contributors argue for the validity of an intuitive realization of a non-phenomenal (“No-thing-like”), unconditioned, unconstructed Awareness or Pure Consciousness—on the basis of a cross-cultural data-base of reports expressed in simple, “low ramified” language (not theologically loaded) by a multitude of the world’s mystics and sages (male and female, ancient and contemporary). Hence the “problem” of Pure Consciousness for the postmodernist claim that “all experiencing is constructed.” Even more immediately, Cole might wish to explore in direct, non-conceptual, purely intuitive experiencing, the marvelously effective “Experiments in the Science of the 1st Person” shared by Douglas Harding at (and see the Zen-related books listed for D.E. Harding in the main part of the bibliography here), which clarify that we always see, perceive, feel and in all other ways function from the Unseen, Unperceived (etc.) “Open Capacity for experiencing.” This is not a concept or a rhetorical device to be dissected via literary analysis, but entails direct “apperceiving” or “abiding as openness,” available to anyone at any time, which is surely what both the Buddha and many of the Mahayana sutras (and the much earlier Vedanta Upanisads) and Chan/Zen tradition were endeavoring to point back to, albeit many Mahayana texts and Chan teachers failed in doing the most straightforward job of this pointing back to Awareness right Here. A fine review of Cole from another perspective is David McMahan, “Review of Cole, Alan, Text as Father: Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature,” H-Buddhism, H-Net Reviews. April, 2008;

      Criticisms aside, Cole’s two-part work is “must reading” for what it gets right—which is considerable, a revolutionary and usefully “disturbing” way of reading all these Mahayana and Chan texts for what clearly appear to be “ulterior, selfish motives,” certainly not in keeping with basic Buddhist precepts to refrain from lying and stealing (and in Shenhui’s case, what looks like a violation of “no killing” when he performs explicit character assassination on the recently-deceased Chan master Puji).


Seizan, Yanagida, Shoki Zenshu shisho no kenkyu (Studies in the Historical Works of the Early Chan School) (Kyoto: Hozokan, 1967). Magisterial work for its time, hopefully one day to be translated from Japanese into English for its importance as a watershed document in modern-era Chán historical studies. Scholar Steven Heine calls this “the single most important book on the formation of early Zen [Chan] writings in China. This work lifted studies by Japanese scholars out of the traditional sectarian approach to Zen scholarship and into the arena of contemporary critical theoretical studies by challenging many of the myths and fabrications as well as highlighting the sheer creativity and inventiveness that characterized the self-definitions of the early Zen [Chan] school.” Yanagida’s tome documents the emergence and evolution of Chán Buddhism from the 7th to 10th centuries, exploring much further some of the important leads uncovered by Chinese historian Hu Shih from the 1930s to 1950s. Yanagida Seizan (1922-2006) was considered the world’s foremost scholarly historian of early Chán Buddhism; he showed that too many Japanese Zennists over the centuries had mistranslated key passages in Chinese Chán classics and uncritically accepted as factual the Sòng dynasty lore about the earlier Táng dynasty Chán teachers. Yanagida not only helped prepare critical modern Japanese editions of key Chán texts, he wrote numerous books and articles over the years. Some articles were translated into English (e.g., two articles translated for a work edited by Lai & Lancaster, 1983—see below). He influenced the several scholars organized into a team by Ruth Fuller Sasaki at Kyoto’s Daitokuji Rinzai monastery and financially supported by her until her death in 1967, and thereafter with Iriya Yoshitaka (1910-99) he held in Kyoto joint seminars for scholars from around the world on early Chinese Chán texts. Yanagida was a big influence on some of the finest western scholars working on the history of early Chan—Philip Yampolsky, John McRae, Bernard Fauré, Urs App, Albert Welter, Mario Poceski, and others, though each of these scholars have themselves pioneered new ground which has further advanced our knowledge beyond the areas illumined by Yanagida.


Philip Yampolsky, Tr., The Platform Sutra [Tanjing] of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of the Tun-huang Manuscript with Translation, Introduction, and Notes (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1971, orig. publ. 1967; the translation and footnotes from p. 125 to p. 183, but not Yampolsky’s long, insightful Introduction, are archived online at ). This Dunhuang manuscript, from the Stein collection, is a copy from 850 CE of the earliest known version of the most influential Chan text in history, the apocryphal Liùzǔ Tánjīng (Sixth Patriarch Platform Sutra), as it simply but misleadingly came to be called. Yampolsky provides an erudite introduction explaining the emergence of this text and the myth of the so-called “6th Patriarch” Huineng (638-713), as well as an abundance of footnotes. This translation is the one most widely used by scholars and Steven Heine sees Yampolsky’s sophisticated approach to have ushered in the birth of a truly academic field of Chan/Zen studies in the West, setting “a new standard for what a translation and book-length study in the field should accomplish.” For a translation of the later, much-expanded, revised and “orthodox” version of the text, the Ming-dynasty edition that made it into the modern-era Japanese Taishō edition of the official Buddhist canon, and which is almost double in length compared to the Dunhuang text, see John R. McRae, Tr., The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: Translated from the Chinese of Zongbao (Taisho Vol. 48, No. 2008) (Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation & Research, 2000) (the full work with McRae’s excellent scholarly introduction is online at ). A comparative reading of the Dunhuang and Ming-era texts will show how Chan tradition had worked up an even more alluring image of Huineng in the intervening years. Yampolsky and McRae’s introductions to the Platform Sutra show how it was dubiously attributed to Huineng as his alleged autobiographical and doctrinal testament (in a supposed series of sermons), making Huineng the (imagined) founder of the “Southern School” of Chán in the lineage from 5th Patriarch Hongren. Yet the Platform Sutra is clearly a later work: “The earliest extant version of the Platform Sutra was written around the year 780 and was preserved among the treasures of Dunhuang in Chinese Central Asia” (McRae), and this early version differs considerably in contents and length from later editions. “The Dunhuang version of the text, the earliest complete edition we have, is almost certainly a product of a long evolution with elements coming together from several different Chán groups with different agendas,” writes Morten Schlütter, who detects fully seven different versions arising over several hundred years, the last one double the length of the Dunhuang version. This Dunhuang version has been found in virtually identical copies, so it appears to be the standard earliest edition and then became widespread. See Morten Schlütter, “Transmission & Enlightenment in Chán Buddhism Seen Through the Platform Sutra (Liùzǔ Tánjīng),Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, 20 (2007): 379-410 (Taipei: Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, at, and, in even lengthier analysis, Morten Schlütter & Stephen Teiser, Eds., Readings of the Platform Sutra (Columbia Univ. Press, 2012). See also, for more analysis of the text, with special attention to the evolution of its title (and the original importance of the Diamond-Cutter Sūtra for the work), Christoph Anderl, “Was the Platform Sūtra Always a Sūtra? Studies in the Textual Features of the Platform Scripture Manuscripts from Dūnhuáng,” in Studies in Chinese Manuscripts: From the Warring States Period to the 20th Century, Imre Galambos, Ed. (Budapest: Institute of East Asian Studies, 2013). On the construction of the Hui-neng figure by later Chán, see articles/books by Hu Shih, Yanagida Seizan, Yampolsky, McRae (1986, 2000, 2003), Bernard Fauré (1991, 1997), Alan Cole (2009), and two recent works not just examining the invention of Chan master Huineng but also examining the phenomenon of his mummy: John Jorgensen’s big tome, Inventing Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch: Hagiography and Biography in Early Ch’an (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005) and Kees Kuiken, “The Other Neng,” PhD dissertation, archived at All these scholars show that the stories and teachings of Huineng were later constructions, such as the idea that Shenxiu lost an “enlightened poetry contest” to Huineng’s superior verse on the nature of the mind (Shenxiu was no longer in physical proximity to Hongren when a younger Huineng came to train under Hongren). It seems that the Niutou/Oxhead School of Chán, working to reconcile the so-called Northern and Southern schools and the false dichotomy dreamed up by Shenhui between “sudden enlightenment” and “gradual enlightenment,” was the central group that originated the Platform Sutra while incorporating some material from Shenhui. The text later would be significantly expanded and revised and crucially articulate a new paradigm of influential Chán views and practices: “The primacy of the buddha-nature, the identity of meditation and wisdom, the ‘formless’ approach to repentance and the precepts, the samadhi of the single practice… [the irrelevance of] status, education, cultural or racial origin, and even spiritual training [for realizing perfect enlightenment]…. The only criterion of any significance whatsoever is the [sudden] experience of ‘seeing the buddha-nature,’ realizing one’s innate status as an enlightened being.” (McRae). For another good translation of the Platform Sutra, albeit lacking the critical/revisionist scholarly viewpoint, and with a commentary by a modern-era sagely Chán master of great repute, see The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra with Commentary, Master Hsuan-hua, Ed. & Commentary, BTTS Tr. (San Francisco: Buddhist Text Translation Soc., 1977). Other translations are also available.


Lai, Whalen, and Lewis Lancaster, Eds., Early Ch’an in China and Tibet (Berkeley, CA: Lancaster-Miller Press, 1983). Contains several seminal scholarly papers de-romanticizing and nuancing Chán Buddhism’s complex, conflicted tradition, including two essays by Yanagida Seizan, dean of early Chán historical studies, and David Chappell’s crucial study of “4th Chán Patriarch” Daoxin and the earliest settled Chán community known to exist, as well as Chappell’s translation of the teachings attributed to Daoxin.


Adamek, Wendi, The Mystique of Transmission: On an Early Chán History and its Contexts (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2007). First English translation and fine scholarly look at a late-8th century “fabrication,” Lidai fabao ji (Record of the Dharma-Jewel Through the Generations), the only remaining relic of the little-known, unsustainable Bao Tang school of Chán in the area of today’s Sichuan province in central-southwest China. Adamek writes: “The Lidai fabao ji was probably composed sometime between 774 and 780 at the Bao Tang monastery in Yizhou by an anonymous disciple or disciples of the … Bao Tang [Chan school] founder, Chan Master Wuzhu. Wuzhu claimed Dharma descent from the charismatic Korean Chan master Wuxiang (Korean: Musang) (684–762), who was known as the founder of another Sichuan Chan school, the Jingzhong school of Chengdu.” For more on the Lidai fabao ji and the Bao Tang school, see Wendi Adamek’s more recent, The Teachings of Master Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion (Columbia Univ., 2011), which examines the radicalism of Bao Tang’s founder Wuzhu (Wu-chu; 714-774): not just admitting lots of women disciples (evidently a rarity for the era), but dispensing with all ethical distinctions, precepts, worship and rituals for the sake of practicing a “just-sitting with no mind”—so extreme a position as to verge on what the Buddha might call “the heresy of nihilism” as Master Zongmi later charged. 


Jinhua Jia, The Hongzhou School of Chán Buddhism in Eighth- through Tenth-Century China (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2006). (See next entry.)


Mario Poceski, Ordinary Mind As the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chán Buddhism (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007) and Cheng Chien Bhikshu (Mario Poceski), Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-tsu and the Hung-chou School of Ch’an (Fremont: Jain Publ., 1991; available online in full at Jia’s aforementioned book, based on her PhD dissertation (Univ. of Colorado, 1999) and Poceski’s more recent book Ordinary Mind As the Way, based on his doctoral dissertation (Univ. of California Los Angeles, 2000) are especially valuable, “must-read” scholarly windows onto this crucial era of Chán and the Hongzhou-based widespread movement started by Mazu and his followers. The illustrious Ancestor Mazu Daoyi (Ma-tzu Tao-i, 709-788), with more named disciples (153) than any other Chán master of the Tang or any dynastic era, is now known to have been far less “wild and eccentric” and far more conservative and straightforward in his role as spiritual teacher than previously thought by Zennists of the past 1,000 years. This is determined via the earliest Chinese inscription and other sources examined by Poceski and Jia, often overlooked by those Japanese and western scholars who have only looked at later, less reliable “Lamp transmission” works filled with legends and encounter dialogue. The conventional wisdom in many circles still holds that Mazu’s style of Chán and that of his Hongzhou-school successors entailed all sorts of “crazy wisdom” actions and teachings: shouting, physical striking of students, non sequitur replies to questions, and that his Chán school was separate from and uniquely different than other Buddhist schools. These images are false. Poceski’s and Jia’s meticulous scholarship based on the earliest stele inscriptions and other Tang-era sources much more reliable than later Song period literature, shows that Mazu and his many eminent followers like Baizhang, Xitang, and Dazhu were promoting a much more “orthodox” Chán, one that was integrally part of or “inside,” not outside, an evolving current of mainstream Chinese Buddhism, wherein scriptural study and exegesis, maintaining the vinaya precepts, cultivation of virtue, seated and walking meditation, and other traditional activities and mores still held sway. Poceski and Jia have performed all Zennists a real service in exploring the actual lives and legacies of Mazu and a dozen or so of his most notable Hongzhou Dharma-heirs who brought a mature, wise Chán Buddhism to an empire-wide scale in China’s Tang dynasty and subsequent Five Dynasties era. Poceski, in his tour de force work, also brings considerable erudition to the convergences and divergences of the Hongzhou school doctrines and practices compared to other previous Chán lineages and other Buddhist schools as well. In his conclusion he states, “This book represents an attempt to take another look at the mid-Tang period and recover significant aspects of Tang religious history. Its portrayal of the Hongzhou school challenges popular views and prevalent notions about the history and character of Tang Chán, thereby further undermining the myth of Chan’s uniqueness that still permeates many discussions of Chán/Zen history, literature, and teachings…. [A] rethinking of its [Chan’s] growth and character along the lines suggested in this volume has wide-ranging ramifications for reinterpreting the beliefs and ideologies of the later Chán/Zen traditions throughout East Asia.”


Welter, Albert, The Linji Lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: The Development of Chan’s Records of Sayings Literature (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2008). A much-needed examination of the history of the powerful Linji Chán faction of the Song dynasty (960-1279). Its actual founders, Welter persuasively argues, were Shoushan Shengnian (926-993) and his students fully a century and more after the passing of Linji Yixuan (Lin-chi I-hsuan, d.866), who was evidently not famous in his own time but certainly had become so after Shoushan and other figures in the Song period retrospectively mythologized in “wilder” fashion Linji’s image and fabricated a lineal connection to Huangbo (when Linji’s primary teacher and “awakener” was Dayu) and through Huangbo back to fabled Chán master Mazu (709-88). Welter’s crucial thesis is that Linji had been a relatively obscure Chán teacher, but generations later his “heirs” deployed a carefully crafted image of him with some added new elements to obtain the support of leading Song dynasty literati and ruling class leaders, thus guaranteeing their institutional dominance of Chán. The literati (shidafu) sponsored Chán as an type of new literary culture that would distinguish the Song from previous dynasties, and so they favored Linji Chán and the yulu (“recorded sayings”) genre of literature which had begun to be composed around this time. In short, as Welter has observed in one of his seminal papers, “The record of Linji’s sermons, dialogues, and activities in the Linji lu are presented as if they were eye-witness accounts of the activities of Linji the man. While they may have indeed been inspired by the actual words and deeds of Linji, some 250 years separate Linji’s life (d. 866) and the compilation of the Linji lu in its ‘standard’ form (1120)…. The story of the Linji lu is not the story of one man, but the story of a movement that eventually found its voice and identity through the teachings of Linji. What these teachings represent are not so much the words of one man, which are in any case irretrievable, as the combined aspirations of the movement as a whole, projected on to the person of Linji as founder.” As for the evolution of the words and deeds (and prestige) attributed to Linji, Welter traces them as first occurring in sketchy form in the seminal text Zutang ji (Patriarchs’ Hall Anthology), compiled by two monks in 952, featuring material on 256 teachers; then the Zongjing-lu (Records of the Source-Mirror) remarkable anthology of sermons and verses of Buddhist masters, assembled in 961 by Yongming Yanshou (904-976); then the first “Lamp text” (Denglu), the Jingde Chuandeng lu (Jingde era Lamp Transmission Record), by Daoyuan in 1004, covering some 600 teachers (two somewhat varying editions are extant); then the Tiansheng Guangdeng lu (Tiansheng era Expanded Lamp Record), published in 1036 by Li Zunxu, a son-in-law of the emperor. This last text notably includes chapters devoted to the "recorded sayings" (yulu) of prominent Chán masters of a supposed lineage culminating with Linji—Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang Huaihai, Huangbo Xiyun, and Linji Yixuan—helping confirm Linji Chan’s institutional dominance at the Song court. The Tiansheng guangdeng lu contains the earliest known version of the full contents of the Linji lu—it and the "standard" Linji lu text compiled in 1120 by Yuanjue Zongyan differ only in the order of their contents, with no significant difference in the wording itself. For partial presentations of Welter’s work, see his paper at an international Buddhist conference at Haein-sa in S.Korea, “The Formation of the Linji lu: An Examination of the Guangdeng lu/Sijia yulu and Linji Huizhao Chanshi yulu: Versions of the Linji lu in Historical Context” (2006) at; and his paper presented to the AAR in 2002, “The Textual History of the Linji lu (Record of Linji): The Earliest Recorded Fragments,” at


Welter, Albert, Monks, Rulers, and Literati: The Political Ascendancy of Chán Buddhism (NY: Oxford Univ. Press 2006), a critical analysis of some evolving and crucially defining “transmission history” texts in Chán during the Five Dynasties and Song periods, particularly the Zutang ji, (Patriarchs’ Hall Anthology, compiled in core-form in 952), the Jingde Chuandeng lu (Jingde-era Record of the Lamp-Transmission, 1004), and the Tiansheng Guangdeng lu (Tiansheng-era Expanded Lamp Record, 1031-6). As book-reviewer Charles Jones synopsizes, “Welter notes several evolutions in the stories as characters are added or omitted, lineages emphasized or sidelined, and secular political figures take over the compilation from earlier monastic compilers. The story that emerges is the story of a tradition struggling to define itself in a changing world, rulers looking for a form of Buddhism that would suit their political interests, and literati contesting the nature and content of China’s literary heritage: the three classes of player that form the title of the book.” (Note: the voluminous Chuandenglu was partially translated by Ching-yuan, 1969, and Sohaku Ogata, 1990—see listings). Welter, early in his book, identifies the problem that revisionist scholars have confronted: “Zen propagandists and apologists in the twentieth century sold the world on the story of Zen as a transcendental spiritualism untainted by political and institutional involvements…. [A] suprarational, mystic wisdom that transcended the supposedly mundane, superficial logic of Western dualism, Zen came to represent a true spiritual purity, untempered by the passage of time and the vagaries of place.” Welter, like other scholars cited here, tells the real history as it unfolded, which had a lot more to do with a self-serving retrospective creation of “Chan lineages” to maximize prestige, recognition and patronage from the ruling class for the benefit of certain teachers, followers and their monasteries in the Song dynastic period.


Welter, Albert, Yongming Yanshou’s Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu: A Special Transmission Within the Scriptures (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011); Welter, The Meaning of Myriad Good Deeds: A Study of Yung-ming Yen-shou and the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi (NY: Peter Lang, 1993), based on his 1986 doctoral dissertation of the same name, archived at These are crucial volumes from Welter focusing on the key figure Yongming Yanshou (904-76), who, like Zongmi (781-841), defies the popular, false stereotype of the “Chan master” as being an anti-intellectual, anti-scriptural, antinomian rebel but instead a sage of “words and letters,” who showed that the great earlier Chán masters of the Tang dynasty were also sober-minded teachers who made great use of scripture and high-level Buddhist principles. Yanshou was later regarded as a Chán master third in the line within the Fayan family, and also honored as a patriarch in the Pure Land devotional Buddhist tradition. In his voluminous Zongjing lu, which he put forth in 961, he shows himself to be an ardent collector of the straightforward, no-nonsense, rational-intuitive wisdom teachings of earlier Chán and other Buddhist masters—which was clearly the main form of Chán teaching up until the wildly eccentric “encounter dialogue” and gong’an/koan literature preempted and prevailed from the end of the Tang dynasty into the Five Dynasties/Ten Kingdoms and Song dynastic period with the ascendancy of the Linji Chán school. Jeffrey Broughton in his review of Welter’s 2011 book notes, “Welter restores Yanshou to his rightful Chan identity, redeeming him from marginalization as a non-Chan scholastic or Pure Land-Chan syncretist; and positions him as the mainstay of a Song ‘Buddhist School of Principle’ alongside the ‘Linji Chan Mind School.’” Welter provides a complete translation of fascicle one of the Zongjing lu after analyzing the life and historical-religious context for Yanshou. Note that the 98th scroll of the Zongjing lu was translated by J.C. Cleary and published in 1979 as Zen Lore from the Source Mirror.

      Also very relevant here are two of Welter’s recent papers: 1) “Beyond Lineage Orthodoxy: Yongming Yanshou’s Model of Chan as Bodhisattva Cultivation,” in Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, 26 (2013): 1-31 (at, in which Welter persuasively argues that Yanshou was a “proponent of scholastic Chan who disputed Chan’s separate identity and its notion of lineage as the sine qua non of true dharma transmission […and] that Yanshou advocated [a pan-Mahāyāna] alternative vision for ‘Chan as bodhisattva cultivation’ (pusa xing chan) that transcended notions of Chan lineage orthodoxy.” 2) Welter also shows how Yongming Yanshou provides a likely far more acccurate image of Chan master Mazu as a scriptural exegete by preserving evidently authentic Mazu lecture and commentary material; for this, see Welter,Contested Identities in Chan/Zen Buddhism: The ‘Lost’ Fragments of Mazu Daoyi in the Zongjing lu,” in Buddhism Without Borders: Proceedings of the International Conference on Globalized Buddhism, Bumthang, Bhutan, May 21-23, 2012, archived at See also the extensive work of Yi-hsun Huang (2005) on Yongming Yanshou.


Chung-yuan, Chang, Original Teachings of Ch’an Buddhism (NY: Pantheon, 1969; reprint by Random House Vintage in 1971). Stories and teachings of 19 worthies excerpted from the more than 600 teachers profiled or mentioned in the 30 volumes of the earliest of the Chán “Transmission Record” or denglu text-genre, the Jingde Chuandenglu (Ching-te Ch’uan-teng Lu), “Record of the Transmission of the Lamp (compiled in) the Jingde (Period).” The Chuandenglu was compiled by Daoyuan and polished and published by disciples in 1004. It is partly based on the Zutang ji (952), the first major transmission “history” or, better to say, transmission-construction of Chán Buddhism, but the Chuandenglu achieved its completion much earlier than the ZTJ and also achieved much greater popularity and longevity of printing. It was directed to an elite Song dynasty audience to further cement Chan’s role as most important of all Buddhist schools in China, with the Chan master presented as more charismatic than teachers of any other Buddhist school. See Welter (2006) for scholarly analysis of the Chuandenglu, which will also correct certain misunderstandings that Chang Chung-yuan promulgated in his commentaries about the different Chan masters in the sections of this book outside his translation of the selected excerpts from the CDL—e.g., that Farong founded the Niutou/Oxhead school, that Yongming Yanshou advocated Pure Land practices, etc.


Ogata, Sohaku, The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters (Wakefield, NH: Longview Academic, 1990). This publication presents what was apparently the rough draft of Abbot Ogata’s translation of the entire first third of the Chuandeng lu, with some of this material appearing for the first time in English. Unfortunately, it was riddled with errors and typos and lacked any critical scholarly apparatus. On top of this, as Welter (2006) has shown, the CDL itself is a mix of facts and legends, including deliberate myth-making. Nevertheless, this long out-of-print volume is worth perusing.


Ferguson, Andy, Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publ., expanded edition, 2011, 568 pages, first published in 2000 in 518 pages). Profiles of 168 leading Chán figures over 800 years and 25 generations of teachers, with a detailed foldout lineage chart naming fully 179 adepts of all the “Five Houses/Families of Chán.” Ferguson mainly relies on a late Sòng-dynasty source, the mid-13th century Chinese text Wudeng Huiyuan (Compendium of Five Lamps) by Chán adept Puji (1179-1253), a distillation of five previous “lamp records” in that denglu genre; Ferguson also translates from numerous other Chinese sources, mainly earlier denglu sources of Chán legends and various yulu “Sayings Records” of uneven reliability. Readers do well to read some of the revisionist scholars (McRae, Fauré, Welter, Poceski, Cole, et al.) on the retrospective fabrication, myth-making and selective editing in the Song dynasty that gave rise to much or most of the words and deeds of these ancient teachers, a fact that Ferguson acknowledges but does not underscore enough, in this reviewer’s opinion.


Tung-Shan, The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell, Tr. (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / U. of Hawaii, 1986). On Dongshan Liangjie (Tung-shan Liang-chieh, 807-869), retrospectively regarded as founder of Caodong (Ts’ao-tung) line, which is number two in importance after the Linji faction as one of the “Five Families of Chán,” the Caodong style of Chán later on imported into Japan by Dogen Zenji, where it is known as Soto Zen.


App, Urs, Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Teacher “Gate of the Clouds” (NY/Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994). Yunmen (864-949) founded the “Yunmen family” among the “Five Families of Chan” (wu jia); known for his eloquence, he is also famed for his baffling gong’ans (many included in the classic gong’an/koan collections) and his “one word” mind-stoppers. Swiss scholar Urs App worked extensively with the towering historians Yoshitaka Iriya and Yanagida Seizan; from 1989 to 1999 he was full professor of Buddhism at Hanazono University in Kyoto and served as Assoc. Dir. of its International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism (IRIZ;; he has contributed greatly to our understanding of how Buddhism was actually first received and misrepresented by Europeans of the 16th to 17th centuries onward (see Urs App, The Birth of Orientalism, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2010, and The Cult of Emptiness: The Western Discovery of Buddhist Thought and the Invention of Oriental Philosophy, UniversityMedia, 2012). After opening his present text on Yunmen with a colorful account of his visit to a revived Yunmen-si monastery on Yunmen mountain in 1990, App serves up an excellent scholarly assessment of Yunmen, his authentic teachings, and his historical context. App, who wrote his 1989 doctoral dissertation on Yunmen, describes his book in the Preface: “Stone inscriptions of 959 and 964 [discovered during excavation at Yunmen monastery] constitute, together with the Record of Yunmen, the most important sources of information about the life and teaching of the master […] The Introduction […] contains a concise biography of Yunmen that is based on these and other important Chinese sources, as well as a brief history of Chan and a discussion of Chan teaching. In the main body of the book, I have translated many of Yunmen’s talks and dialogues for the first time. The length of the Record of Yunmen necessitated a stringent process of selection; I chose to translate all of the longer talks and a representative sample of the hundreds of short dialogues that the Record contains. All dialogues used in the four major Chinese koan collections are included. Since the first volume of the Record appears to be the oldest and most reliable, I decided to cull from it more than half of the total volume of translated parts. In the final portion of this book, Materials, the history of the Record is traced and an overview of its contents given. Additionally, Yunmen’s dialogues that appear as koans in the four major koan collections as well as relevant literature are listed.” This is a work of exemplary scholarship to retrieve for modern readers the accurate legacy of one of Chan Buddhism’s more important sages. In the Preface, App expresses the intention to one day release a complete version of the Record of Yunmen, with full scholarly apparatus. Because of other projects engaging App, this has not yet appeared.


Gregory, Peter, Ed., Sudden & Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1987). Taoist and Buddhist sources examined, with emphasis on early Chán Buddhism. Gregory is the director of the U. of Hawaii’s Kuroda Institute, which has published so many pioneering critical-historical volumes on Chán/Zen. The excellent essays here are by Gregory, R.A. Stein, Luis Gomez, Whalen Lai, John McRae, Neal Donner, Robert Buswell, et al. A lengthy, peer-reviewed critical article on this book is T. Griffith Foulk, “Issues on the Field of East Asian Buddhist Studies: An Extended Review of Sudden & Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought, appears in the J. of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 16.1 (1993): 93-180, available online in pdf format.


Gregory, Peter, Ed., Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1986). This contains some important articles on Chán, such as Bernard Fauré’s “The Concept of One-Practice Samadhi in Early Ch’an,” Carl Beilefeldt’s “Ch’ang-lu Tsung-tse’s Tso-Ch’an I and the ‘Secret’ of Zen Meditation,” Robert Buswell’s “Chinul’s Systematization of Chinese Meditative Techniques in Korean Son Buddhism,” and David Chappell’s “From Dispute to Dual Cultivation: Pure Land Responses to Ch’an Critics.”


Gregory, Peter, Tsung-mi and the Sinification of Buddhism (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991; reprint U. of Hawaii, 2002), a scholarly, magisterial work, accompanied by his somewhat more accessible Inquiry into the Origin of Humanity: An Annotated Translation of Tsung-mi’s Yuan-jen lun with a Modern Commentary (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1995). See also Jeffrey Broughton, Zongmi on Chán (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2009) and Kuei-Feng Tsung-mi: The Convergence of Ch’an and the Teachings (Columbia Univ., 1975), based on Broughton’s massive PhD dissertation (622 pp), and see, too, Jan Yun-Hua, Tsung-mi: His Analysis of Ch’an Buddhism (Leiden: Brill, 1972), which has 18 pages of translation of Zongmi writings after a scholarly analysis of his contributions and historical context. Guifeng Zongmi (Kuei-feng Tsung-mi, 781-841), an insightful scholar-adept, author of scores of books and commentaries, and Patriarch of both Chán and Huayan Buddhism, is the one who named Chán “Chán.” Raised with a Confucian ethic, he is our best voice looking onto Chan’s diverse schools of the era (though his one unfortunate bias is toward the sectarian rabble-rouser Shenhui, in whose Heze lineage Zongmi was trained); he is the first to steer a middle path between extreme views and more fully articulate the crucial way of “sudden enlightenment, gradual cultivation” (dunwu jianxiu) to avoid falling into shallow “realization” and moral relativism.


Gregory, Peter, and Daniel Getz, Jr., Eds., Buddhism in the Sung (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1999). Hefty 660-page tome featuring a range of articles from scholarly contributors on Chan and its Buddhist peer traditions like Pure Land Buddhism in the crucial Sung (Pinyin: Song) dynastic era (960-1279), divided by the transition from Northern to Southern Song period around 1127. Among other things, this era saw early in its development the widespread influence and institutional dominance of Chan Buddhism and the retrospective mythologizing of its origins as well as the articulation of key doctrines and mapping out of orthodox lineages and the rise of “literary Chan” fascinated with gong’an cases and verse comments on such cases.


Gimello, Robert, and Peter Gregory, Eds., Studies in Ch’an and Hua-yen (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1983). Important essays by fine scholars on early developments in these two important Chinese Buddhist schools, the Hua-yen (Pinyin: Huayan) being based on the voluminous Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist text, Avatamsaka Sutra.


Foulk, T. Griffith, “Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Ch’an Buddhism,” in Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Peter Gregory, Eds., Religion & Society in T’ang & Sung China, pp. 147–208 (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / U. of Hawaii, 1993). Important early work that has been followed up by excellent work of scholars Ishii Shudo and Mario Poceski on how Chán Buddhism never actually revolutionized monasticism into a self-sustaining, independent form, and that its monasteries were still very much embedded in the old Buddhist Vinaya monastic code and quite reliant on support from wealthy patrons, income from tenant farmers, and ruling class support.


Morrison, Elizabeth Anne,  The Power of Patriarchs; Qisong and Lineage in Chinese Buddhism (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2010). Based on her PhD dissertation (Stanford Univ.) supervised by Bernard Fauré, “Ancestors, authority, and history: Chan lineage in the writings of Qisong (1007-1072).” In her scholarly book, Morrison analyzes the rise of the patriarch (zu) as a new source of religious authority that emerged in the creation of Chinese Buddhism. Morrison shows how the all-important idea of a line of authority passed down from the Buddha himself was most fully developed in the Chán tradition and then spread to other Chinese Buddhist schools when Chán rose to institutional dominance during the Song era (960-1279). She provides a case study with the life, teachings, and literary activity of Chán teacher Qisong (1007-72) and also looks back to earlier Buddhist notions of succession and transmission in India and China before Chán arose. Morrison reviews various scholars’ works on the emergence of the Chán lineages, and Qisong’s composition of the True Lineage texts and his campaign for their acceptance at court. She also translates the first fascicle of the Critical Essay on the True Lineage of the Transmission of the Dharma (the Chuanfa zhengzong lun) and the Critical Essay revised and defended.


Schlütter, Morten, How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chán Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ of Hawaii, 2008). Brilliant scholarly report on the crucial developments of Chán from the mid Tang dynasty (618-907) and brief Five Dynasties/Ten Kingdoms era and then especially during the all-important Song dynasty (960-1279), when literary output exploded exponentially upon the invention of printing, the literati (shidafu) arose to prominence and made the Chán school the dominant Buddhist institution in China. But then a momentous factional split occurred between the Linji (J.: Rinzai) house of gong’an (koan)-oriented kanhua Chán, led by Dahui (d.1163), and a revived Caodong (J.: Soto) house of “silent illumination” mozhao Chán, led by Hongzhi (d.1157) and his predecessors, most notably Furong Daokai (1043-1118). Each school of Chán differed over the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine and practice of “acquired enlightenment” vis-à-vis “inherent enlightenment” (all beings are originally the Buddha-nature). Schlütter’s penetrating analysis of the Song-era literati’s “transmission histories” and their all-important focus on a teacher’s charisma as mystically linked by special transmission to earlier Tang dynasty masters (e.g., the “6 Chán Patriarchs” and then the lineages said to descend from Huineng), leads him to observe: “The entire [official Chan] lineage prior to the Song [dynasty] is best understood as a mythical construct, a sacred history that served to legitimize the Song Chán school and its claim to possess a special transmission. Even in the Song, the Chán lineage was subject to constant manipulation and reinterpretation in order to legitimize the lineages of certain teachers and their descendants or to bolster polemical and religious claims.” “The Tang Chán lore served to exalt the position of the abbot in the Song Chán monastic setting.” Schlutter, like other scholars, clarifies that two really “distinctive” elements of Chán, encounter dialogue and gong’an/koan stories, “cannot be reliably traced back to Tang-dynasty Chán [618-907]. There is no evidence at all of [wild Chan-style] encounter dialogue prior to the 952 Zutang ji (Anthology from the Halls of the Patriarchs), and even here it does not feature nearly as prominently as it does in the later Song sources.” (pp. 15-17) Taking off from the considerable work by Ishii Shudo in Japanese, Schlütter also unfolds the history of the key players in the “new Caodong School” that arose especially through the work of Furong Daokai and his disciples in saving the Caodong lineage from extinction, launching the intensive mozhao silent illumination practice, and, in the case of Hongzhi, defending it against the vociferous charges made by Linji-Chan sage Dahui, whose story and concerns with superficial Chan are also told here. Schlütter is a specialist on this period, having written his PhD dissertation on the subject, “Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China (960-1279): The Rise of the Caodong Tradition and the Formation of the Chan School,” Yale University, 1998, with much information on, for instance, individual Caodong Chan masters.


Hershock, Peter, Liberating Intimacy: Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Ch’an Buddhism (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1996). A daring, not always convincing philosophical work whose main aim, as reviewer Steven Heine puts it, “is to defeat the stereotypical view that Ch’an is elitist, escapist, life-negating, and other-worldly by showing that fundamental to Ch’an religion is a dimension of social engagement and virtuosity based on a realization of intimacy that liberates self and other.” Hershock has new translations and interpretations of the encounter dialogues created in the Song dynasty about Mazu, Baizhang, Huangbo and Linji, though it must be added that the work of John McRae, Mario Poceski, Albert Welter, et al. has shown that almost all of this eccentric dialogue material was invented early in the 10th century and then amplified to extreme by Song-era literati (the shidafu).


Hershock, Peter, Chán Buddhism (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 2004). Here Hershock utilizes the philosopher’s critical tools along with practitioner’s insights to explore early Chán views and practices such as sudden awakening, the unity of wisdom and practice, meditation’s importance, the use of shock-tactics and gong’ans (J.: koans), the centrality of the teacher-student relationship; and the celebration of enlightenment narratives.



Central Reading List on Chán/Zen/Seon/Thien Buddhism

Abe, Masao, Zen and Western Thought, William LaFleur, Ed. (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1989), receiving the American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence, the first three-fourths of this collection of articles by an outstanding Japanese Zen philosopher of the 20th-century Kyoto School is devoted to elucidating Zen topics, followed by a comparison of Zen with famous western theologians and philosophers. This book was followed up by Abe’s two sequels: Zen and Comparative Studies: Part Two of a Two-Volume Sequel to Zen & Western Thought, Steven Heine, Ed. (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1996), and Zen and the Modern World: A Third Sequel to Zen & Western Thought, S. Heine, Ed. (Univ. of Hawaii, 2003). Abe clarifies the true meaning of Buddhist emptiness in comparison with, for instance, Aristotle’s notion of substance and Whitehead’s notion of process; he stresses that Zen (and Mahayana Buddhism) overcomes dualism, not by establishing a monism, but only by inviting a profound ego-death (cf. Jesus’ kenosis or “self-emptying”) and awakening to the nondual Self, Absolute Reality or Buddha-nature. See also some of Masao Abe’s other works, including his masterful A Study of Dōgen: His Philosophy & Religion, S. Heine, Ed. (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992).


Abels, Janet Jiryu, Making Zen Your Own: Giving Life to Twelve Key Golden Age Ancestors (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2012). American Rinzai Zen teacher Abels sweetly repeats and comments upon many of the legends generated during the Song dynasty (960-1279) about earlier Chán figures from the “Golden Age” of Chán during the Tang dynastic period (618-907). Scholarship of the past 30 years has debunked many of these ideas, anecdotes and pseudo-biographic sketches as tale-telling done centuries after the actual time-period of the old Chinese teachers covered here. Yet this book is still worthwhile for Sensei Abels’ insightful homilies on the pragmatic lessons and modern applications to be gained from contemplating the teachings, deeds and lives of Chán Buddhism’s ancient worthies.


Addiss, Stephen, Stanley Lombardo, Judith Roitman & Paula Kane Robinson Arai, Eds., Zen Sourcebook: Traditional Documents from China, Korea, & Japan (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008). Good overview and selections from great adepts of all three countries—Korea is usually neglected in such collections, though in Zen Sourcebook it is still rather sparsely represented. A criticism to be made here, as with virtually all Chán/Zen readers in print, is that this “Sourcebook” ignores the very early bonafide Chán texts of the so-called “Northern School” of Chán, and, instead, early in its lineup (after opening chapters on the Heart & Kanzeon Sutras and the Two Paths/Entrances text by Tanlin and attributed to Bodhidharma) focuses upon the late work Xinxin Ming (circa 760) falsely attributed to the much earlier “cipher” figure, Sengcan, and upon the equally late, entirely apocryphal Platform Sutra compiled c780 and attributed to Huineng (d.713) as his autobiography, but which was really a work of propaganda on behalf of those Channists benefitting from an altered genealogy away from Shenxiu and onto Huineng as the leading disciple of “5th Patriarch” Hongren. Zen Sourcebook goes on to usefully present Shitou’s Sandokai, and then excerpts from Huangbo’s Transmission of Mind, the rather late Linji Record, anecdotes and poems of the Pang family, select poems by Chinese Chán nuns (an unusual, welcome addition), excerpts from the Record of Zhaozhou (d.897), Kuoan’s Ten Ox-Herding Poems (12c.), the complete Wumenguan/Gateless Barrier by Wumen (d.1260), excerpts from Biyanlu/Blue Cliff Record, Dahui’s (d.1163) Swampland Flowers (excerpts), the Biography of Miaozong (d.1170), Korean Seon master Jinul/Chinul’s (d.1210) On Cultivating the Mind (excerpts), select writings from Dogen (d.1253), the awakening of nun Mugai Nyodai (d. 1298) (complete), select poems from Muso Soseki (d.1351), and select sayings of Korean master T’aego Bou (d.1382). All of these works are available in complete or more extensive forms from other sources, but Zen Sourcebook puts them together quite nicely.


Addiss, Stephen, The Art of Zen: Paintings & Calligraphy by Japanese Monks 1600-1925 (NY: Harry Abrams, 1998). Beautifully covers seven periods of Japanese history and the life and work of various Zen adepts of the brush from 1600-1925, though one wishes to see more works of pioneering figures from the earlier, crucial Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods. See also Addiss and John Daido Loori, The Zen Art Book: The Art of Enlightenment (Boston: Shambhala, 2009), featuring 40 masterpieces of suibokuga painting and shodo calligraphy by the renowned Zen master Hakuin (1686–1769), Sengai (1751–1837), et al., with illuminating commentary by Addiss and Loori.


Ahn, Juhn Young, Malady of Meditation: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Illness and Zen, PhD dissertation (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2007). In an impressively scholarly work on a sparsely investigated subject area, Ahn explores the Chanbing or Zenbyo “meditation sickness” experienced by Hakuin and others who fell into the wrong kind of “silent illumination” quietist Chán/Zen.


Aitken, Robert, Taking the Path of Zen, (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1982); The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics (North Point, 1984); The Gateless Gate: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan) (North Point, 1990/1997); The Dragon Who Never Sleeps: Verses for Zen Buddhist Practice (Monterey, KY: Larkspur Press, 1990); Encouraging Words: Zen Buddhist Teachings for Western Students, (NY: Pantheon, 1993); The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective (Pantheon, 1994); Original Dwelling Place: Zen Essays (Upland, CA: Counterpoint, 1996); The Morning Star: New and Selected Zen Writings (Washington DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003); etc. A bibliography of all books, articles, etc. up to 1993 for Aitken is archived at Aitken Roshi (1917-2010), the prolific American author, social justice advocate and much-respected early Western Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani line (after studying with Nakagawa Soen and others in Japan and Nyogen Senzaki in California), founded with his wife Anne the influential Diamond Sangha in 1959, with branches now in several countries. Many western teachers trained with the wise, compassionate, and level-headed Robert Aitken and have, in turn, brought the same sensibility to training their own students. Helen Tworkov profiles and interviews Aitken Roshi in her Zen in America: Profiles of Five Teachers (1989/1994). See also the recent work by Helen J. Baroni, Love, Roshi: Robert Baker Aitken and His Distant Correspondents (Albany, NY: State Univ. of NY Press, 2012), examining the large archive of his correspondence with solo Zen practitioners and Buddhist sympathizers.


Anderl, Christoph, Ed., Zen Buddhist Rhetoric in China, Korea, and Japan (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012). Excellent papers (forming a 474-page book) from a conference on the topic in 2008 in Norway presented by well-known scholars. These include William Bodiford (on rhetoric of Chinese language in Japanese Zen), Steven Heine (on Dogen’s use of Chinese sources) and Robert Buswell (on Jinul/Chinul and Kanhwa Seon), as well as several lesser-known European scholars—Anderl (Introduction and chapter on rhetorical function of Chan technical terms), Jens Braarvig (on the Mahayana rhetoric of Emptiness), Bart Dessein (on rhetoric in Mahayana Abhidharma texts), Christoph Harbsmeier (on aspects of the One Hundred Parables Sutra), Halvor Eifring (on Wang Wei’s Chan poetry), Christian Wittern (on Chan Yulu-genre encounter dialogues), Jorg Plassen (on Solcham’s commentary on the Five Ranks), Vladimir Tikhonov (on Manhae Han Yongun), Therese Sollien (on Xuyun’s discourses), and Korean scholar Jongmyung Kim (on Hyujong).


Anderson, Reb, Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation (Berkeley: Rodmell, 2005); Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts (Rodmell, 2000). One of the true spiritual heirs of Shunryu Suzuki, Tenshin Reb Anderson was with him from 1967 til Suzuki’s passing in 1971, and, over 40 years later, is one of the most respected teachers in American Zen today, with much wisdom to share here with serious Zennists on their Soto Zen practice of shikantaza “just sitting,” and their taking the Bodhisattva Precepts after, ideally, one to two years of Zen practice.


Aoyama, Shundo, Zen Seeds: Reflections of a Zen Priest (Tokyo: Kosei Publ. English ed., 1990), by a leading female Japanese Zen teacher/author, chief priest/abbess at Muryo-ji temple and Aichi Semmon Niso-do training temple for women priests in the Soto Zen school. See also coverage of Aoyama’s work in Paul Kane Robinson Arai, Women Living Zen (1999).


Arai, Paula Kane Robinson, Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns (Oxford Univ. Press, 1999). A fine historical and ethnographic account by Robinson Arai of a much neglected and crucial topic. Arai is fluent in Japanese and conducted key ethnographic research in 1989-90 at Soto Zen nunneries in Japan. Her surveys of the nuns reveal remarkable findings about the immense courage, graciousness, and loving-kindness of the nuns in their dedication to the strictest form of Zen training set down by Dōgen Zenji in the 1230s-50s and Keizan a few generations later. Since the Meiji Restoration made life difficult for Japanese Buddhist monastics, the Soto nuns have broken through various limiting strictures to restore traditional female Zen Buddhist monasticism in an impressive manner. Arai sees them as, on average, compared with their male Soto Zen brothers, training longer and with greater purity of practice; more self-sufficient and more successful in preserving not just the meditative lifestyle (some nunneries are holding sesshin retreats more often than leading male monasteries) but also the treasured old Japanese Zen arts of tea ceremony, flower arrangement, hymn singing, etc.; entering the nunnery at a much more mature average age (43), bringing with them greater practical skills and experience; and also outranking most monks in garnering respect from lay society for their depth of spirituality and their various contributions to the welfare of the needy. Happily, the data show that women in far greater percentages compared to 1950 are by 1990 attaining the higher ranks in the Soto Zen institution. On the downside, fewer women are entering the monasteries, for reasons including much smaller families now in Japan (parents are less willing to let a sole daughter become a nun) and there is more of a comfort-gap between monastic and lay lifestyles compared to earlier generations. Would that someone put together a similar research project on Japanese women of the Rinzai Zen branches, though it is likely that all or nearly all of the same conclusions would hold as discovered by Arai.


Austin, James, Selfless Insight: Zen and the Meditative Transformations of Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011); Zen Brain Reflections: Reviewing Recent Developments in Meditation and States of Consciousness (MIT Press, 2010); and see his earlier work on Zen and neuroscience, Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness (MIT Press, 1998). Interesting scientific findings and hypotheses by a neuroscientist on zazen meditation’s various effects on and changes to the bodymind. These volumes serve as much needed updates to basic experimental work done in Japan back in the 1950s and 1960s on Zen meditation.


Bankei, Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei, Peter Haskel, Tr., Yoshito Hakeda, Ed. (NY: Grove Weidenfeld, 1984); and Norman Waddell, The Unborn: The Life and Teaching of Zen Master Bankei, 1622-1693 (Berkeley, CA: North Point Press, rev. ed., 2000; orig. publ. 1984). Both these books contain biographical/autobiographical anecdotes and teachings (sermons, talks, questions-and-answers) of Bankei Yotaku (1622-93), a hugely popular and immensely important Zen Master who surpassed all sectarian conflicts, class divisions, sexism, and classical Chinese formalism (which constricted much of Japanese Zen) to informally yet formidably present the simple, subtle, intuitive realization of “the Unborn” (Fu-sho). Bankei, who preached to crowds sometimes surpassing 5,000 or even 10,000 monks, nuns and laity—including emperors, samurai, merchants and peasants—centered his entire teaching on awakening to one’s “Unborn” Buddha-nature, i.e., not getting “born” in narrow, limited identities and attachments. Haskel’s book contains the greater variety of teaching material from Bankei, including his “Song of the Unborn” and other poems and some of his correspondence with disciples, while Waddell provides complete translation of two of Bankei’s famous sermons from 1690 that Haskel gives in slightly abridged form; in the more recent 2000 edition of his book, Waddell also translates a greater amount of the Zeigo or “Unnecessary Words” talks and dialogues that in his earlier edition and in Haskel are represented only briefly. Both authors provide extensive useful background notes.


Baroni, Helen, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism (NY: Rosen Publ. Group, 2002). Handy reference, with over 1,700 entries and numerous large black-and-white illustrations across its 426 pages, including not just Zen but also early Indian Buddhism. Not nearly as much coverage of Chinese Chán vocabulary and historical precedents as one would like (and using the outdated Wade-Giles transliteration for Chinese names), and virtually no material on Korean Seon, but the single volume is still valuable for its strong Japanese Zen focus, including some coverage of the too-often neglected Obaku school, on which Baroni is an expert. This book has unique entries not to be found in the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (q.v.) and is useful especially to English-speaking students practicing in centers stemming from Japanese Zen lineages. Students of Chinese Chán and Korean Seon Buddhist lineages will find the book far less useful.


Baroni, Helen, Obaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa, Japan (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 2000). On Obaku, Japan’s minor third sect of Zen, which stimulated reform in Rinzai school; it was founded in 1661 by a small group of Chinese Chán teachers led by Yinyuan Longqi (1592-1673; Jap.: Ingen Ryuki) and Japanese students at their major temple, Manpuku-ji in Uji, Kyoto. See also Helen Baroni, Iron Eyes: The Life & Teachings of Obaku Zen Master Tetsugen Doko (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2006). The best-known Obaku exponents after Yinyuan/Ingen were his Chinese disciple Muan Xingtao and the Japanese humanitarian, preacher, and editor of the first major Japanese collection of the Buddhist canon, Tetsugen Doko (1630-82).


Basho, Basho: The Complete Haiku, Jane Reichhold, Tr. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2008); The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and Other Travel Sketches, Nobuyuki Yuasa, Tr. (London: Penguin, 1966); A Haiku Journey: Basho’s Narrow Road to a Far Province, Dorothy Britton, Tr. (Kodansha, 2002); Basho’s Journey: Selected Literary Prose by Matsuo Basho, David Landis Barnhill, Tr. (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2005); Narrow Road to the Interior and Other Writings, Sam Hamill, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 2000) and The Essential Bashō, Sam Hamill, Tr. (Shambhala, 1999); Basho’s Haiku: Selected Poems of Matsuo Basho, David Landis Barnhill, Tr. (SUNY, 2004); Robert Aitken, A Zen Wave: Basho’s Haiku and Zen (NY: Weatherhill, 1978); Makoto Ueda, The Master Haiku Poet, Matsuo Basho (Kodansha, 1982), M. Ueda, Matsuo Basho (Tokyo: Twayne, 1970), and M. Ueda,  Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary. (Stanford Univ. Press, 1992). Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the most widely renowned poet of Japan’s Edo period (1600-1868); many of his best poems are in his “Narrow Road” travelogue, written joyfully rather late in life after overcoming years of depression. Only loosely affiliated with Zen.


Batchelor, Martine, Principles of Zen (London: Thorson’s, 1999). Excellent introduction to Zen by a woman who lived as a Korean Seon (Zen) nun from 1975-85, part of that time practicing at Korea’s leading Seon training monastery, Songgwang-sa, including training time under its abbot until he died, the illustrious Kusan Sunim (1901-83).


Batchelor, Martine and Son’gyong Sunim, Women in Korean Zen: Lives and Practices (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press, 2006). Frenchwoman Martine discusses the situation of Korean Buddhist nuns, including their equality and authority in the Seungga/Sangha, a positive element compared to numerous other Buddhist countries. She provides some demographic data from 2004, showing a vibrant situation for Korea’s Buddhist (largely Seon Buddhist) nuns and, happily, their near equal status as beneficiaries of donations from the laity. She also tells of her difficulties as a westerner adjusting to Korean monasticism and culture—rigorous meditation schedules, communication difficulties, heavily spicy food, etc. In 1980-2 she had recorded the fascinating oral autobiography of her elderly teacher, Seon’gyong Seunim (1903-94), who was still spending ten hours daily overseeing all activities at the meditation hall in Naewon-sa, one of the principal nunneries for practicing Seon/Sŏn, and Martine provides this autobiographical account in the book’s second half, along with eleven poems by Son’gyong Sunim. (This fascinating autobiography is also online at )


Bayda, Ezra, Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life (Boston: Shambhala, 2003); At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace Within Everyday Chaos (Shambhala, 2004); Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts) (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2005); Zen Heart: Simple Advice for Living with Mindfulness & Compassion (Shambhala, 2009); Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment (Shambhala, 2010). Insightful popular books from Zen teacher Bayda (b.1944), who was appointed by Charlotte Joko Beck, though he and his Zen-teacher wife Elizabeth Hamilton had that transmission revoked in 2006, after which Bayda and Hamilton joined the late Maezumi’s White Plum Asanga network of teachers. Bayda has, among other things, usefully distinguished what he calls the three phases of practice: the Me-Phase, Being Awareness, and Being Kindness.


Beck, Charlotte Joko, Everyday Zen: Love & Work, Steve Smith, Ed. (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1989); Nothing Special: Living Zen (NY: HarperCollins, 1995); and see her interview in Lenore Friedman, Meetings With Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America (Boston: Shambhala, 1987). Beck (1917-2011), chronologically the 3rd Dharma-heir of Soto Zen teacher Maezumi Roshi, broke from him after his improprieties were revealed to go head the Zen Center of San Diego (ZCSD) from 1983-2006, also co-founding with three of her students the Ordinary Mind School in 1995 for the purpose of integrating Zen practice with the psychology of healing emotional complexes and dysfunctional conditioning. Her nine Dharma-heirs have included Elihu Genmyo Smith of Champaign, Illinois, psychiatrist Barry Magid of NYC, Diane Eshin Rizzetto of Oakland, California, and also the husband-wife couple, two co-founders of OMS, the aforementioned Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton, who succeeded her at ZCSD but with whom she had a falling out in 2006. Joko emphasized Buddhist mindfulness meditation in addition to Soto shikantaza meditation, and de-emphasized kensho, dharma-transmission and certain formalities for the sake of an uncluttered realization of nonduality.


Benoit, Hubert, Let Go! Theory and Practice of Detachment According to Zen, Albert Low, Tr. (NY: Samuel Weiser,1973; orig. French publ., 1954). Going beyond his earlier The Supreme Doctrine: Psychological Studies in Zen Thought (NY: Pantheon, 1955, Terence Gray, Tr.; Sussex Academic Press 2nd ed., 1998), French Zen psychiatrist Benoit (1904-92), a former surgeon severely injured for years after a WWII bombing of his town, discusses convergent and divergent (letting go) practices in Zen, and suggests a daily exercise—uninhibited babbling—to allow full letting go. In his final book, The Interior Realization, J.F. Mahoney, Tr. (S. Weiser, Amer. ed., 1987), Benoit simplifies the approach: just BE.


Besserman, Perle, and Manfred Steger, Grassroots Zen (Boston: Tuttle, 2002). Married university professors Besserman (The Shambhala Guide to Kabbalah & Jewish Mysticism) and Steger, a teacher authorized by Robert Aitken Roshi of the Diamond Sangha in Hawaii (and author of Gandhi’s Dilemma: Nonviolent Principles and Nationalist Power) discuss the “grassroots Zen” phenomenon occurring in America. This is where relatively small, democratically run groups of Zen practitioners band together and sustain a sangha-community free of the hierarchy and formality of the usual Zen monasteries of East Asia (this Asian model having been brought to the West with limited success and several problems). Starting as the Princeton Area Zen Group, these “grassroots Zen” members found they were replicating an old Chinese tradition (cao ben chan): “without official sanction from Buddhist priests and beyond the monastery walls... like-minded men and women gathered together to sit in meditation.” “We eliminated monastic robes and tonsure [head shaving], as well as every vestige of militarism and male dominance inherent in Japanese Zen training.” Steger and Besserman discuss how to carry on what they consider to be Zen’s essential elements: zazen, formal sitting meditation; sesshin, silent meditation retreats; dharma-talks by teachers; koans, the riddles for provoking great doubt and great awakening; and dokusan student-teacher interviews. An editorial statement here would suggest that other communities might wish to do things a bit differently, like substitute the simpler huatou (J: wato) practice for koans, and include the kind of sophisticated combination of Chán and devotional Pure Land practice as developed in China over the centuries and advocated by people like D.T. Suzuki toward his latter years when he integrated the paths of “Zen effort” with the “grace” found via Jodo Shin-shu Buddhism.


Besserman, Perle, and Manfred Steger, Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2011). Insightfully discusses eight Rinzai Zen teachers from 8th century China down to modern America—starting with two famous Chinese sages, Layman Pang (a disciple of Mazu) and Linji (J: Rinzai), and then six Japanese figures of the past six centuries: Bassui, Ikkyu, Bankei, Hakuin, Nyogen Senzaki and Nakagawa Soen. This book is a revised release (with an extra chapter included) of the authors’ earlier work: Crazy Clouds: Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers. The chapters are well-written, also furnishing useful historical background for the different eras in which these Chan/Zen masters functioned.


Blofeld, John, Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening (Buddhist Publishing Group, 2006, originally published as The Zen Teaching of Hui-hai on Sudden Illumination, Rider, 1962). Dazhu Huihai (Tai-chu Hui-hai) (n.d., active c750s onward), was a very early disciple of Mazu and listed as his most “senior” disciple (and not to be confused with Baizhang Huaihai, a somewhat later prominent disciple of Mazu). Dazhu’s own written work was the Dunwu rudao yaomen lun (Tun-wu ju-tao yao-men-lun), which is translated here along with a shorter work by John Blofeld (1913-87), a longtime resident of Chán monasteries during China’s Republican era.


Blofeld, John, The Zen Teaching of Huang-po on the Transmission of Mind (NY: Grove Press,1959). Huangbo Xiyun (Huang-po Hsi-yün, d. early 850s), enlightened disciple of long-lived Baizhang Huai-hai (749-814), was sagely teacher of Peixiu, Daozong and ten other Dharma successors; also a teacher of Linji. The two existing records of Huangbo’s teachings, the Chuanxin Fayao and Wanling lu, were in large part compiled by his close friend Pei Xiu, a high-ranking official and later prime minister, so they are (fortunately for us) a contemporary account of a master’s teachings by a disciple of high intellectual caliber along with the wise monk-disciples of Huangbo with whom he consulted. Yet Dale Wright, in Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998), brings a postmodernist critique to Blofeld’s work on Huangbo; see also Wright’s chapter, “The Huang-po Literature,” in S. Heine & D. Wright, Eds., The Zen Canon (2004; see listing below). In both these works, Wright reminds us that, despite the early provenance of these collections of Huangbo’s teachings, they still come to us not directly from the sage but as filtered through the mind of Pei Xiu and other disciples. However, this same criticism must apply even more severely to most other “collected sayings/teachings of Chán masters” literature of Tang and even Song dynastic periods, which look suspiciously doctored to appear more antinomian, iconoclastic, and spiced up with “encounter dialogues.” On the content of Huangbo’s teachings, concerning especially the topic of “the One Pure Mind,” see Albert Welter, “Huang-po’s Notion of Mind,” M.A. thesis, McMaster Univ. (1978), available at


Blyth, R.H., Zen and Zen Classics, 5 vols. (Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1960-70): Vol. 1: General Introduction, from the Upanishads to Huineng (1960); Vol. 2: History of Zen (1964); Vol. 3: History of Zen (1970); Vol. 4: Mumonkan (1966); Vol. 5: Twenty-Five Zen Essays (1962). Reginald H. Blyth (1898-1964) and his first wife were residents of Korea from 1925 on (where he soon began training under Japanese Zen roshi Hanayama Taigi of Myoshin-ji Keijo Betsuin in its Seoul branch), was interred by the Japanese during WWII, and then until his death lived in Japan with his second (Japanese) wife, involved in high-level diplomacy, then teaching at Gakushuin University, and popularizing Zen philosophy for Westerners. Zen and Zen Classics were erudite works for their time; in vol. 1, Blyth surveys pre-Buddhist views in India and China going back to 1,000 BCE and then pre-Chan Buddhist currents before launching into a study of Chán up to 750 CE, including discussion of the Hsin-hsin-ming (Xinxinming, falsely attributed to 3rd Patriarch Sengcan), and the Platform Sutra (falsely attributed to 6th Patriarch Hui-neng). Subsequent volumes bring his treatment all the way up to essays on Zen in modern-era Japan. For a good 1-volume anthology from Blyth’s long out-of-print works, see Frederick Frank, Ed., Zen and Zen Classics: Selections from R.H. Blyth (NY: Vintage, 1978; reprint by Heian, 1992). Among his wide-ranging writings, Blyth was also famous for introducing to Westerners the art of haiku poetry; see his 4-volume book series Haiku (1949-52), and his 2-volume History of Haiku (1964) (both published by Hokuseido).


Bodiford, William, Soto Zen in Medieval Japan (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1993). Groundbreaking historical work on how Soto Zen actually grew and functioned from the 1200s to 1600s, serving the populace not just with Dogen’s, Keizan’s and other masters’ instruction on and strong support for zazen meditation, but also koan-study, impressive Mahayana rituals, veneration of and/or conversion of local spirits in a continuance of an ancient mountain-shaman consciousness, “magical” practices like rainmaking, and the promotion of a religious atmosphere further colored by elements from the several-hundred-year-old Japanese Vajrayana traditions of Shingon and Tendai Buddhism, dominant in Japan from the 9th century until the rise and flourishing of Zen. Bodiford, steeped in massive scholarly knowledge and insights about medieval Japanese Buddhism and the political milieu, candidly examines the tangled lineages and history of the major Soto monasteries in their centuries-long rivalries—Dogen’s Eiheiji and the Yokoji and Sojiji temples founded by Keizan.


Bopjong Sunim, The Sound of Water, the Sound of Wind: And Other Early Works by a Mountain Monk, Brian Barry, Tr. (Fremont, CA: Jain Publ., 2010). Bopjong or Beopjeong Sunim (1932-2010), not to be confused with Dorim Beopjeon (b.1925), was a reclusive mountain hermit-monk and Seon master, whose Korean-language works on Seon meditation, voluntary simplicity, and other topics were widely read by his countrymen and women. Many of his essays are available at the Seon Buddhist Jogye Order website:

Borup, Jørn, Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism: Myōshinji, a Living Religion, (Leiden: Brill, 2008). Expensive but really excellent scholarly work on contemporary Rinzai Zen, one of the two dominant Japanese Zen traditions (along with Soto Zen), focusing on by far the most important of the 14 Rinzai head monasteries of the past several centuries, the Myōshin-ji. With its more than 3,500 subtemples, the Myōshin-ji branch is larger than all the other 13 branches of Rinzai Zen combined (which collectively have another 2,500 subtemples). Covering a very wide range of topics in nearly 300 pages, Borup draws on textual studies and ethnographic fieldwork to analyze how the Myōshin-ji’s male and much smaller number of female practitioners understand and practice their religion and how different kinds of Rinzai Zennists (monks, nuns, priests, wives, children, lay people) interact and define themselves within the religious organization.


Boucher, Sandy, Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988).


Braverman, Arthur, Tr., Mud and Water: The Teachings of Zen Master Bassui (Boston: Wisdom Publ., rev. expanded ed., 2002; orig. publ. 1989). The independent-minded Zen master Bassui (1327-87) trained in both Rinzai and Soto but refused to wear monk’s robes until it was time for him to teach, yet he meditated far more than other monks; he revitalized Zen as the sincere, “straightforward” way beyond either licentiousness or attachment to forms/rituals/dogma. He lived at hermitages and temples all over Japan before founding Kogaku-an (later Kogaku-ji) near Mt. Fuji, where he lived from 1380 up to his sudden death while meditating in 1387.


Braverman, Arthur, A Quiet Room: The Poetry of Zen Master Jakushitsu (Boston: Tuttle, 2000). Jakushitsu (1290-1367) studied with Linji teachers in China from 1320-26, the last great Japanese Zen master to make the journey, then lived back in Japan as hermit for decades; late in life he accepted the abbot role at Eigen-ji, built for him to teach Zen. A flute player and one of the great poets of the era. A good friend of the younger independent Zen master, Bassui.


Braverman, Arthur, Living and Dying in Zazen: Five Zen Masters of Modern Japan (NY: Weatherhill, 2003). Fine testament to a cluster of modern zazen adepts and their teachings, deserving to be far better known in the West, especially: the renowned traveling zazen proponent and straight-talking reformer “Homeless Kodo” Sawaki Roshi (1880-1965); his two disciples, Kosho Uchiyama (d.1996), presiding abbot of Sawaki’s Antaiji Soto Zen monastery when it was in northern Kyoto (where Braverman and other westerners trained from the late 1960s on), and disciple Sodo Yokoyama (1904-84), who for nearly three decades after training at Antaiji sat zazen and also played a “leaf-flute” in Kaikoen park as a living monument to zazen; Sawaki Roshi’s Rinzai friend and “laughing Buddha” zazen adept, Kozan Kato (c1875-1971), a teacher of many Zen masters of some of Japan’s biggest monasteries; and charismatic laywoman zazen teacher Motoko Ikebe (1898-1989). Antaiji, a place for pure, intensive zazen practice, relocated in 1976 from the encroaching city to the remote mountains outside Shin’onsen, 16 km SE of Hamasaka in Northern Hyugo Prefecture. Kosho Uchiyama, The Zen Teaching of “Homeless” Kodo (Kyoto: Kyoto Soto-Zen Center, 1990), and for further teachings from Sawaki Roshi not translated therein. And see Kosho Uchiyama Roshi’s valuable teachings in Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice, Tom Wright, Jisho Warner & Shohaku Okumura, Tr. & Ed. (Boston: Wisdom Publ., rev. expanded ed., 2004; orig. publ. 1974 as Approach to Zen); Kosho Uchiyama, The Wholehearted Way: A Translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa with Commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, Shohaku Okumura & Taigen Daniel Leighton, Tr. (Boston: Tuttle, 1997).


Briggs, William, Ed., Anthology of Zen (NY: Grove Press, 1961). An early, pre-critical collection.


Brinker, Helmut, & Hiroshi Kanazawa, Zen Masters of Meditation in Images and Writings (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1996). A major academic publication on many kinds of Chan/Zen painting; includes history of Chan/Zen and chapters on “Zen Aestheticism and Theory of Art,” “Zen symbols and Metaphors,” etc. See also Helmut Brinker, Zen in the Art of Painting (London/NY: Arkana, 1987) for a shorter, easier read on many of these topics.


Broughton, Jeffrey, with Elise Yoko Watanabe, The Chan Whip Anthology: A Companion to Zen Practice (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014). This is an annotated translation of the Whip for Spurring Students Onward Through the Chan Barrier Checkpoints (Changuan cejin), which Broughton abbreviates as Chan Whip. This important anthology of Chan teachings and anecdotes going back as far as Tang dynasty sources of the late 800s CE up to his own time in 1600, including highly interesting autobiographic excerpts from certain Linji Chan masters of the 13th century on, was compiled by the eminent Ming dynasty Linji Chan master and Pure Land teacher Yunqi Zhuhong (1535-1615), who also adds a short section of excerpts from the Mahayana Buddhist canon. His anthology, which became extremely popular in his era and beyond, served as a basic Chan handbook in method, morale and morality for both China and Japan (Zen master Hakuin carried around a copy printed by his disciples). Broughton adds a valuable introduction, filled with much interesting information.


Buswell, Robert E., Jr., The Zen Monastic Experience: Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea (Princeton Univ., 1992). A thorough examination of the topic, patterned in some of its chapters after Holmes Welch’s The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900-1950, e.g., in the extensive discussion of the duties of the master, the abbot, and the other officers of a Seon/Chan monastery; the steps in going from novice to postulant to full monasticism; and the relationship between the monastery and the wider community of laity. Just as Welch primarily focused on Jinshan-si and Gaomin-si for his illustrations of monastic practices, so Buswell mainly examines the monastery where he himself trained in the 1970s—Songgwang-sa on Mt. Jogye, 18 miles from the sea in SSW Korea, one of the leading “Three Jewel Temples” of Korean Seon Buddhism (along with Haeinsa and Tongdosa) since the time of its establishment by renowned sage Jinul (d.1210). Songgwang-sa was completely rebuilt after near total destruction in the Korean War (1950-3), especially through the efforts of Kusan Sunim (1901-83), who, like Jinul, gave the monastery a strong meditation focus for those monks who have chosen the life of deep stillness and inquiry (while other monks/nuns chose to engage in scripture study, ritual, and/or the supportive services required to maintain the monastery). Buswell provides much information about his illustrious teacher Kusan and also adds a very useful conclusion chapter debunking numerous myths about Zen that are rampant in the West. Buswell, we add, has been extremely prolific in his work on Korean Buddhism and the Seon sect in particular. Among his many articles and several books, see his magisterial work on Jinul/Chinul, listed under “Jinul” here on this bibliography. See Buswell, The Formation of Ch’an Ideology in China and Korea: the Vajrasamadhi-Sutra. A Buddhist Apocryphon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 1989). See also Buswell, Tr. & Introd., Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wonhyo’s Exposition of the Vajrasamadhi-sutra (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007). Buswell, et al., have pretty much proven that the Vajrasamadhi-Sutra, “The Book of Adamantine Absorption,” is a Korean production of the Silla Dynasty, not an earlier Indian work, but the text had a major impact on the Korean Seon and Chinese Chán traditions with its furthering the ideas of Original Pure Mind, intrinsic Enlightenment (only covered up by insubstantial “adventitious defilements”), and the nondual “one taste” (Skt: eka rasa) of all experiencing. Seon and Chán owe much to the foundational Buddhist exegesis and systematizing by the illustrious Korean monk Wonhyo (617-86), and his brilliance is on display in the commenntary translated by Buswell in Cultivating Original Enlightenment. This commentary was Wonhyo’s last great work in life. 


Buswell, Robert E., Jr., Ed., Encyclopedia of Buddhism (NY: Macmillan Reference / Thomson-Gale, 2004). 1,000-page reference volume, with numerous Zen- and Mahayana-related subjects covered herein with high resolution art images and useful historical maps. Especially substantial and relevant entries on Zen and Mahayana are John Jorgensen’s long essay on “Chan School,” Gregory Schopen’s remarkably revisionist entry on “Mahayana,” Robert Gimello on “Bodhi” and “Satori” (Awakening), Luiz Gomez on “Meditation,” John McRae on “Huineng” and “Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu Tanjing),” Morten Schlütter on “Koan” and “Mozhao Chan,” and Charles Lachman on “Chan Art.” But for readers seeking from a reference book much more breadth and depth of knowledge on Chán and Zen, the volume by Baroni (2002) and the two volumes by Shambhala (1985, 1991) contain far more information.


Caplow, Zenshin Florence, & Reigetsu Susan Moon, The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2013). This is a collection of 100 classic gong’ans/koans and stories from ancient times in India to modern times in America and Europe, involving early Pali Buddhistand later Chan, Zen, Seon and other Buddhist women, including a few cases of imaginary Mahayana textual figures. Each case is accompanied by commentary by one of 100 modern-era women from several Buddhist traditions, not just Chan-Zen-Seon. Well over half of the stories are drawn from the Chan-Zen-Seon literature, ancient to modern. There is no chronological order here for the female subjects; rather, the selections and short commentary essays are arranged according to four topic groups: 1) seeking and awakening; 2) being human; 3) words in the midst of wordlessness; 4) the path of practice. Altogether, including front and back matter, the book runs to 440 pages.


Carter, Robert, The Kyoto School: An Introduction (Albany, NY: State Univ. of NY Press, 2013). Examines the philosophic thought of the three most important members of the Kyoto School—Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime, and Nishitani Keiji—and an associate member, Watsuji Tetsuro. Each brought his own unique perspective to dealing systematically with the Zen idea of “nothingness.” Carter is the author of several other Zen-related books, The Japanese Arts & Self-Cultivation (SUNY, 2008), focusing on the way of tea, flower arrangement, garden design, pottery, and aikido; and Encounter with Enlightenment: A Study of Japanese Ethics (SUNY, 2001), which considers the role of Shinto, Confucianism, Mahayana Buddhism and Zen in Japanese ethical thinking, and implications for diverse social, economic, and environmental challenges.


Chan, Wing-Tsit, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1963)—good introduction to and selections from Daoist, neo-Daoist, Confucian and especially neo-Confucian sources, as well as some key excerpts from seminal Buddhist thinkers of China. The material on Chan Buddhism is not extensive, limited to teaching excerpts from the Sixth Patriarch Platform Sūtra, some Shenhui dialogues, and Linji Yixuan material. But this text is useful for providing earlier context for the arising of Chan Buddhist thinking. See also Wing-Tsit Chan’s translation of the Platform Sūtra from the Dunhuang manuscript, The Platform Scripture (NY: St. John’s University Press, 1963).


Chang, Garma Ch’en-chi, The Practice of Zen (NY: Harper Perennial, 1970). Great stories and spiritual analysis of old Chán masters. Pre-dates much of the revisionary scholarship by Japanese and western academics, but still very representative of the Chán “feel” in the lore generated during the Sòng dynasty-era.


Chadwick, David, Thank You and OK! An American Zen Failure in Japan (Boston: Shambhala, 1994/2007). Colorful, light-hearted account of his four years in Japan from 1988 to 1992 by Chadwick, an early student of Shunryu Suzuki (from 1966 onward at the San Francisco, Tassajara and Green Gulch Soto Zen centers) and Suzuki’s biographer (Crooked Cucumber, 1999). This sojourn in Japan included six weeks under Katagiri Sensei’s and fellow monks’ benevolent tutelage at Shogoji (what he names “Hogo-ji” for anonymity), a beautiful yet austere little Soto Zen temple in the mountains of Kumamoto on Kyushu Island, and also three and a half years living with his wife in a quiet suburban area of western Japan near an unspecified Rinzai temple where they practiced Zen in between working (he taught English classes and learned much about the culture from his adult students). Many aspects of Japanese Zen life and secular life are illumined by Chadwick’s warm, witty descriptions. The prominent “Norman” figure in the book is, says James Ishmael Ford (Zen Master Who?), Nyonin Chowaney “charmingly and accurately described,” now abbot of the Nebraska Zen Center in Omaha.


Ch’en, Kenneth, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1964). Valuable overarching view of Chinese Buddhist history, with extensive material on Chan Buddhism, its antecedents and its competitors. This book was a pioneering work of scholarship; since Ch’en wrote it, considerable details have been filled in by other scholars working on Buddhism and Chan during different dynastic periods and pertinent issues not raised by Ch’en. Still an excellent read.


Jinul, The Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1983), Robert Buswell, Jr., Tr. & Introduction. A monumental 468-page tome by eminent Korean Buddhism scholar Buswell, later published in an abridged form (232 pages) as Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul’s Korean Way of Zen (Kuroda / Univ. of Hawaii, 1991; this latter work dropped 5 of 8 texts by Jinul translated in the larger volume, and shortened another text, but still featured core wisdom from Jinul, and kept intact Buswell’s masterful Introduction and Notes to all chapters). See also Buswell, Chinul: Selected Works, in Vol. 2 of The Collected Works of Korean Buddhism (Seoul, Korea: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, 2012). This work re-translates several of Jinul’s texts and provides some updated scholarly notes. It is available, along with all 12 volumes of The Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, through the auspices of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism at Jinul (Chinul; 1158–1210), “National Master Bojo (Pojo),” is the most crucial figure in the formation of Korean Seon (Sŏn) Buddhism after Chán was first brought to Korea in the 7th and then 9th centuries; he grew Songgwang-sa monastery on Jogye Mountain, where he taught in a straightforward manner without obfuscation the way of “Sudden enlightenment followed by gradual cultivation,” later integrating hwadu or koan practice and even Pure Land practice in compassion for those with devotional temperament. Myo Bong, Tr., Gateway to Son (Chan) (Irvine, CA: HOSO Son/Zen Academy, 1986) has full translations (with accompanying Korean text display) of two of the several works of Jinul also translated by Buswell, namely, Golden Teaching of Mind Cultivation and Direct Talk on Sublime Functioning of True Mind, each work containing good question-and-answers between students and Jinul. Note that Buswell’s abridged book mentioned above contains these two very readable works in full translation, with introductory notes. On Jinul/Chinul, see also Hee-Sung Keel, Chinul: The Founder of the Korean Son Tradition (Berkeley: Center for South and South East Asian Studies, University of California / Institute of Buddhist Studies, 1984).


Cho, Eun-su, Ed., Korean Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen: Hidden Histories, Enduring Vitality (Albany: State Univ. of NY Press, 2011). A history of Buddhist women’s status from the 4th to 20th centuries. The seven papers herein provide information on Korean Seon nuns of past and present. For some of the women of past eras, the contributing authors draw on teaching records, dynasty annals, temple publications and donation records. The last chapter, especially, fills in some knowledge-gaps as to how South Korea’s Seon Buddhist nuns experienced such a strong revival beginning in the 1950s, coming to have a thriving monastic community under their own control within the Jogye Order, and functioning so well as teachers of meditation and scripture and providers of social service. This chapter examines the women who built the new communities, often without the support of the Jogye Order.


Cleary, J.C., Zen Lore from the Source Mirror (CA: Nanyang Books, 1979). A translation of the 98th scroll of the crucially important text Zongjing lu, this 98th fascicle being a collection of wisdom pearls from earlier Chán masters and other Buddhist sages, compiled and released in 961 by Chán master Yongming Yanshou (904-76). The entire text is notable for its straightforward, “no nonsense” teachings and absence of wild “encounter dialogues” that were being created for the Zutang ji in 952 CE and Chuandenglu in 1004, etc., and certainly were soon generated as the preferred style of Chán discourse among Song-period literati in the Denglu and Yulu genres and the popular gong’an/koan collections.


Cleary, J.C., Introd. and Tr., A Tune Beyond the Clouds: Zen Teachings From Old China (Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1990). An introduction to and translation of teachings from 13th-century Chan master Shiqi Xinyue (d.1254), of southern China. Shiqi’s teachings reflect his being steeped in the gong’an (J: koan) tradition of the previous 150 years.


Cleary, J.C., Zen Under the Gun: Four Zen Masters from Turbulent Times (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2010). Cleary translates teachings from four Chán masters about whom little is known other than that they were eminent teachers of their troubled times—the violent Mongol invasion ending the Song dynasty in 1279, establishing the Yuan dynasty, and eventually being overthrown by the Mings in 1369. The Chán teachers here are Hengchuan (1222-89), Gulin (1262-1329), Gulin’s student Zhuxian (1292-1348), who spent the last 20 years of his life teaching in Japan, and Daian (1347-1403). This time period has been largely neglected in traditional coverage of Chán teachers mainly from the earlier Tang and Song dynasties.


Cleary, Thomas and J.C. Cleary, Tr., The Blue Cliff Record, 3 vols. (Boston: Shambhala, rev. ed., 2000; orig. publ. 1977). See also T. Cleary, Tr., Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record: Zen Comments by Hakuin and Tenkei (Shambhala, 2000). The Biyan lu (Wade Giles: Pi Yen Lu, J: Hekiganroku) is a famed Song-dynasty collection—and a prime text for the Linji Chán / Rinzai Zen school—of old Chán teachers’ sayings/doings, consisting of 100 gong’ans (J: koans) compiled by Xuedou with commentaries by Yuanwu. On Yuanwu, see also the Cleary brothers’ translation, Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu (Shambhala, 1994), on Yuanwu Keqin (1063-1135). The same year that the Cleary brothers came out with their translation of the Blue Cliff Record, Katsuki Sekida also released his translation in Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan and Hekiganroku.


Cleary, Thomas, Tr., The Book of Serenity: One Hundred Zen Dialogues (Boston: Shambhala, 2005; originally published by Lindisfarne, 1990). Translation of the Congrong lu (Ts’ung-jung-lu; J.: Shoyoroku) with 100 gong’an/koan and verse and prose comments, compiled in the 12th century by Caodong master Hongzhi Zhengjue (Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh) (1091-1157). See also the translation and commentary by Gerry Shishin Wick.


Cleary, Thomas, Tr., No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan: A New Translation of the Zen Classic Wumenguan (Mumonkan) (NY: Bantam, 1993). Cleary translates the famous gong’an (koan) collection compiled by Wumen Huikai (1183-1260), which also exists in several other English translations.


Cleary, Thomas, Sayings and Doings of Pai-chang: Ch’an Master of Great Wisdom (L.A.: Center Publ., 1978). Baizhang Huaihai (Pai-chang Huai-hai, 749-814) was a foremost disciple of Mazu (709-88), training under him for six years; in turn he mentored great disciples Huangbo, Guishan and many others. Baizhang was noted for his great wisdom, archived in the fairly early sayings-collections, Baizhang guanglu (Baizhang’s Extensive Record) and in the much later, much shorter, and “wilder” typical yulu-genre text, the Baizhang yulu. The Baizhang guanglu is fortunately a very early work, compiled soon after his passing by disciples. Cleary translates both texts, along with some anecdotes (dubious because of their late provenance) involving Baizhang in the later gong’an collections.


Cleary, Thomas, Minding Mind: A Course in Basic Meditation (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1995, rev. ed., 2009). Here Cleary presents the teachings of seven Chan/Seon/Zen masters (Hongren, Changlu Cijiao, Foxin Bencai, Jinul, Dōgen, Ejō, Manan) for meditating on Original Mind.


Cleary, Thomas, Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1994). In another of his many important offerings, Cleary, after a cogent introduction to the essence of authentic Chán/Zen and a critique of “Zen cultists,” translates the important sermons of the relatively neglected Song-dynasty Chán master Foyan Qingyuan (Fo-yen Ch’ing yüan, 1067-1120), a Dharma-heir of Wuzu Fayan and a straight-talking Chán master who clarifies many problematic issues for Chán students, and also strongly critiques many unenlightened contemporaries for presuming to spew their confusing verbiage.


Cleary, Thomas, Tr., Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership (Boston: Shambhala, 1989). A translation of the Chanlin (or Chanmen) Baoxun, a sober anthology of pragmatic wisdom, deep virtue and mature leadership compiled by the famous Dahui (in the text he is named Miaoxi) and Zhu’an of the 12th century, expanded later in the century by monk Jingshan into its standard form. The compilation draws on the personal teachings and critical reflections of great Linji Chan masters of the Northern Song and early Southern Song periods, and some material by the compilers. This is a valuable collection of straightforward Chan lore, most of which is not found anywhere else, some of the sources no longer being extant. The Chanlin Baoxun is a very useful contrast to the “crazy wisdom” gong’an, denglu and yulu collections that dominated the Song era and so much of the usual Zen teaching-style down to the present. Cleary does not provide any further information on the sources used by Dahui, Zhu’an and Jingshan. Such information is available for about two-thirds of the sages in Andy Ferguson’s Zen’s Chinese Heritage (2000). Cleary’s translation makes for a fine complement to the kind of crazy wisdom that dominates Ferguson’s anthology, the latter being primarily translated excerpts from the last major Denglu text, the Wudeng Huiyuan (1252) and the earlier Chuandenglu (1004).


Cleary, Thomas, Timeless Spring: A Soto Zen Anthology (NY: Weatherhill, 1980). Includes excerpts from works of both Chinese Caodong Chán and Japanese Soto Zen masters. An excellent selection for getting a sense of the spirit of the Caodong-Soto tradition.


Cleary, Thomas, The Original Face: An Anthology of Rinzai Zen (NY: Grove Press, 1978). Starts with Linji Chán missionary to Japan, Lanqi Daolong (1213-79; J.: Rankei Doryu / Daikaku Zenji), then focuses on Shoitsu (1202-80), Daio (1235-1309), Jakushitsu (1290-1367), Bassui (1326-87), Ikkyu (1394-1481), Bunan (1603-76), Bankei (1622-93), Hakuin (1686-1769) and his disciple Torei. Great introduction to Rinzai thought in Japan.


Cleary, Thomas, The Five Houses of Zen (Boston: Shambhala, 1997). On the famous five jia or “families/houses” of Chán and their proponents in Song dynasty China (960-1279). See also a few other selections/translations by Thomas Cleary not already listed here: Zen Essence: The Science of Freedom (Shambhala, 1989), presenting talks, sayings, and records of heart-to-heart encounters between the Zen teachers and disciples—a good basic reader on Zen. Teachings of Zen (Shambhala, 2000) is another excellent basic anthology of teachings from many Chán/Zen teachers. See also Cleary, Kensho: The Heart of Zen (Shambhala, 1997), on the central “breakthrough enlightenment” so emphasized in Rinzai Zen, deemphasized in Soto Zen.


Collcutt, Martin, Five Mountains: the Rinzai Zen Monastic Institution in Medieval Japan (Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard Univ., 1981). Important scholarly study of what Rinzai Zen actually looked like in that era, especially after Muso Soseki’s wide-ranging establishment of temples in the Five Mountains (Gozan) network in his collaboration with the Ashikaga shogunate. See also: David Pollack, Tr., Zen Poems of the Five Mountains (Scholars Press, 1985) and Marian Ury, Poems of the Five Mountains: An Introduction to the Literature of the Zen Monasteries (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, rev. ed., 2002), on the poems written in classical Chinese by Japanese monks of the Five Mountains Gozan group in Kamakura and Kyoto founded by Muso Soseki (1275-1351) (q.v.).


The Collected Works of Korean Buddhism (Seoul, Korea: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism / Compilation Committee of Korean Buddhist Thought, 2012). A monumental, multi-person achievement with much of the work for years carried on by one elderly Korean monk. In order to make Korea’s Buddhist teachings more readily accessible, Dongguk University had previously published a 14-volume compilation of Korean Buddhist works written in literary Chinese, the traditional lingua franca of East Asia, comprising over 320 different works by some 150 eminent monks over 1700 years of Korean history. From that anthology, 90 representative texts, large and small, were then selected and translated first into modern vernacular Korean and then into English by some of the best scholars in the field, a total of 12 published volumes for each language, most over 500 pages each. Through the graciousness of Korea’s Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, these volumes in August 2012 became freely available on the Internet at The entire project was the brainchild of Ven. Jikwan Sunim (1932-2012), one of the most eminent Korean Seon Buddhist monks and prominent scholars of his generation, who first conceived the project and spearheaded it during his term as president of the Jogye Order. He died shortly before seeing it finally come into publication. The 12 volumes include the selected works of Wonhyo, Jinul/Chinul and Hyujeong (Seosan) (vols. 1-3), the Hwaeom/Huayan tradition (vols. 4-5), the doctrinal treatises (vol. 6), gong’an/koan collections (vol. 7, parts 1 & 2), Seon dialogues (vol. 8), Seon poems (vol. 9), Korean Buddhist Culture (a pilgrimage, monuments, eminent monks) (vol. 10), Exposition of the Sutra of Brahma’s Net (vol. 11), and Anthology of Stele Inscriptions of Eminent Korean Buddhist Monks (vol. 12).


Covell, Jon Carter, and Yamada Sobin, Zen at Daitoku-ji (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1974). An unabashed homage to life at Kyoto’s famous Rinzai temple-complex, initially founded as a rather small monastery in 1319 by Daito Kokushi, greatly expanded in the 1320s by sponsoring emperors, magnificently revived after the Onin War by the famous Zen eccentric Ikkyu (d.1481), and later presided over by sages like the illustrious Takuan Soho (d.1645). Daitoku-ji was a central site for the refining of the “dry landscape” garden designs, ink-wash painting, calligraphy, tea ceremony, and other arts associated with the Zen spirit. Over 100 illustrations are included, with many plates in color. See also Janwillem Van de Wetering, The Empty Mirror, for his account of two years of Zen training there in the late 1950s, and also Gregory Levine’s book, Daitokuji, for the art-history angle by an academic.


Covell, Stephen Grover, Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation (Honolulu: U. of Hawaii Press, 2005). An indepth academic study of the struggles and worsening challenges for modern Japanese Buddhist clergy at their family temples. While Covell is trained as a Tendai priest and the book focuses primarily on Tendai temples, he furnishes many examples of Japanese Zen temples, too, and much of his research is applicable in a pan-Buddhist way to the situation in Japan.


Cox, Rupert, The Zen Arts: An Anthropological Study of the Culture of Aesthetic Form in Japan (London/New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003). Usefully looks at a wide range of Japanese arts more-or-less influenced by Zen, as well as examining the iemoto seido “family/school headmaster system” that both conserves and constrains the practice of these arts.


Cunningham, Eric, Zen Past and Present (Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Asian Studies, 2011). A concise, comprehensive survey of Zen history, going back to the roots of Chinese Buddhism in India and down to the present in Japan, examining religious, literary, artistic, and political dimensions.


Daehung Kun Sunim, No River to Cross: Trusting the Enlightenment That’s Always Right Here (Boston: Wisdom Publ. 2007); Mind, Treasure House of Happiness: The Teachings of Seon Master Daehaeng (Anyang, S.Korea: Hanmaum International Culture Institute, 2003); The Inner Path of Freedom: The Teachings of Seon Master Dae Haeng Sunim, (HICI, 1999); Wake Up and Laugh: Dharma Talks by Korean Seon Master Daehaeng (HICI, 2005); Find the Treasure Within: The Teachings of Seon Master Daehaeng (HICI, 2003); My Heart Is a Golden Buddha: Buddhist Stories from Korea (HICI, 2006); No River to Cross, No Raft to Find: The Teachings of Seon Master Daehaeng (HICI, 2005). The amazing Korean Seon nun, Daehaeng Kun Sunim (1927-2012), had profound realizations of the Buddha Nature as the omnipresent, all-loving Appa, “Dad,” while she roamed the wilds as a little child after her aristocratic family fled home and possessions to escape the Japanese military in 1933. She became a Buddhist novice and had her deep enlightenment confirmed in 1950 by eminent Seon Patriarch Hanam Jungwon (1876-1951). After the Korean War erupted, she spent a year helping cook and mend clothes for the poor at Busan, then, feeling the urge to help people at a deeper level, she spent ten more years in the wilds, traversing the mountains of Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces, in the center of the peninsula near the battle zones, severely neglecting food, water, bodily warmth and physical safety (numerous “divine interventions” saved her from death)—and spending much time in samadhi and contemplation of our True Nature and the wondrous knowings and healing powers of Juingong (our formless True Nature, all-accomplishing and connecting us with all life), which she used to benefit the mountain villagers. In the late 1950s she settled into a hut below Sangwon Temple in the Chiak Mountains, a base for her mentoring and healing work in the vicinity of Wonju city. In 1972, Daehaeng moved to Anyang City (just south of Seoul), and founded the first HanMaum (One Mind) Seon Center within the Jogye Order; as a result of public demand elsewhere, this grew to a network of 15 temples in Korea, 10 abroad, over 50,000 lay disciples and over 180 Seunims (nuns and monks) under her tutorship. She became the only Korean nun to train monk disciples, previously unheard of in Korea’s patriarchal society. By the 1980s Daehaeng was the most visible nun in S.Korea with her holy example and very accessible teachings about turning over all matters to our formless root, the True I or Buddha Nature, and to completely integrate Seon enlightenment with everyday living, whether one is a monastic or layperson. One of her monks, Chong Go Sunim (formerly Brian Zingmark), has an informative blog about her and Korean Buddhism ( and an essay on Daehaeng as chapter 10 in the scholarly anthology edited by Jin Park, Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (SUNY Press, 2010).


Dahui / Ta-hui, Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui, J.C. Cleary, Tr. (NY: Grove, 1977). Ta-hui or Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163), disciple of Yuanwu, was, says Miriam Levering, who wrote her 1978 PhD dissertation on Ta-hui (and see her article on Dahui for S. Heine and D. Wright,  Zen Masters, 2010), “arguably the Song Dynasty’s most important Chán monk… he changed the way teaching and practice were done in the Lin-ji house… for all the succeeding centuries in China, Korea and Japan” by his revival of intense koan practice to go far deeper than what he termed mere “silent illumination” into total realization of “unborn present Awareness.” Great sage Hongzhi befriended him despite Ta-hui’s severe criticism of the silent illumination emphasized in the Caodong Chán school (along with a limited amount of koan study). See Morton Schlutter’s How Zen Became Zen for more information on the two schools’ divergence and more about Ta-hui/Dahui. An excellent online article on Ta-hui is Chun-Fang Yu, “Ta-hui Tsung-kao and Kung-an Ch’an,” J. of Chinese Philosophy, 6 (1979): 211-235, archived at


Davis, Leesa, Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry (NY: Continuum, 2010). Useful comparison of India’s ancient Advaita Vedanta and Zen, the two most extensive and sophisticated nondual traditions of the East.


De Bary, W.T., Ed., The Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan (NY: Vintage Books, 1972). Contains translated selections from certain important texts in Chán and Zen through the centuries. A significant anthology then and now.


DeVido, Elise Anne, Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns (Albany, NY: State Univ. of NY Press, 2010). After introducing readers to the remarkably high percentage of female Buddhist monastics in Taiwan, the highest anywhere in the world, DeVido primarily focuses on the great humanitarian nun Zhengyan (Cheng Yen) and the nuns and laywomen involved in her Ciji (Tzu-Chi) Foundation, the largest NGO in the Chinese-speaking world; DeVido also examines the nuns and laywomen of the Luminary Buddhist Institute.


Dogen Zenji, Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo, 2 volumes, Kazuaki Tanahashi, Ed., Robert Aitken, Chozen Bays, Joan Halifax, John Daido Loori et al., Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 2011, subsequently reprinted in one volume); Gudo Nishijima & Chodo Cross, Tr., Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, 4 volumes (Woods Hole, MA: Windbell Publications, 1994; full download at; Rev. Hubert Nearman, Tr., Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching (Mt. Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey, 2007; full download at; Kosen Nishiyama & John Stevens, Tr., Dogen Zenji’s Shobogenzo: The Eye & Treasury of the True Law, 4 vols. (Sendai, Japan: Daihokkai, 1975-8). These are four complete translations or renderings of the full 95 chapters or “books” of the official 1906 edition of the primary opus by the famous founder of Soto Zen in Japan, Dogen Zenji (1200-53), a profoundly subtle sage and master of an embodied nondual spirituality. His Shobogenzo collection of essays and talks to monks from 1231-1253 was rearranged a few times by Dogen—e.g., he finished a 75-book version and then late in life started a new version but only completed 12 books before his early death; then in the modern era it was reworked to include some works not originally included by Dogen himself (such as his early essay Bendowa from 1231). This is considered “the first major Buddhist philosophical work composed in Japanese” and “one of the highest manifestations of Buddhist thought ever produced.” The recent translation by the team under Kaz Tanahashi is now the one most highly regarded by scholars, and it is the most literal translation. See also Hee-Jin Kim Flowers of Emptiness: Selections From Dogen’s Shobogenzo (NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985), which has Prof. Kim’s translation and expert commentary on 30 chapters of Shobogenzo; Gudo Nishijima, Understanding Shobogenzo (Windbell, 1992); Norman Waddell & Masao Abe, Tr., The Heart of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002); and Thomas Cleary, Tr., Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1986).

      For another major opus by Dogen, considered essential reading along with his Shobogenzo, yet previously given far less attention by scholarship inside and outside Japan, see the long awaited Dogen’s Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku, Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohaku Okumura, Tr. (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2004/2010), which focuses on the ten-part Eihei Koroku; this is a record of Dogen’s early and later teaching career as expressed in Chinese language and consisting in his formal and informal talks, koan-commentaries and poems. An earlier, less available and reliable English translation of the Eihei Koroku is by Yuho Yokoi, The Eihei Koroku (Tokyo: Sankibo Buddhist Bookstore, 1987). Another text is the Eihei Shingi, actually a composite work assembled in 1667 by Kōshō Chidō based on some (not all) of Dogen’s prescriptions for monastic life given in his various original works; English translations are by Yuho Yokoi, Eihei Genzenji Shingi (Tokyo: Sankibo, 1973) and by Leighton & Okumura, Tr., Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community, A Translation of Eihei Shingi (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1996). On Dogen’s diary or reminiscence of his years in China, see Takashi James Kodera, Dogen’s Formative Years in China: An Historical Study & Annotated Translation of the Hokyo-ki (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), which provides many details of Dogen’s first half of life. See Steven Heine’s revisionist, playfully-titled work, Did Dogen Go to China? What He Wrote and When He Wrote It (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006), with much new thinking about the historical Dōgen and his writings by Heine and other scholars he cites. Two important edited volumes in more recent years are Steven Heine, Ed., Dogen: Textual & Historical Studies (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012) and S. Heine, Ed., Dogen and Soto Zen (Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), which both incorporate a massive amount of the most updated scholarly material on the sage, with penetrating essays by leading Dogen scholars, East & West. The first volume presents (after Heine’s introduction) William Bodiford’s expert essay that critically surveys, evaluates and clarifies misunderstandings about Dōgen’s main texts, especially the major editions of the Shōbōgenzō, i.e., the 12-fascicle, 28-fascicle, 60-fascicle, 75-fascicle and 95-fascicle texts, as well as versions of the Eihei Kōroku, Zuimonki, Eihei Shingi, and other, shorter works. This volume edited by Heine includes two of his own essays, a second essay by Bodiford, and essays by T. Griffith Foulk, Taigen Dan Leighton, Ishii Shudo, Carl Bielefeldt, Albert Welter, and Ishii Seijun (“New Trends in Dogen Studies in Japan”). Heine’s most recent (2015) edited collection on Dogen, Dogen and Zen, includes essays by Heine, Bodiford, Foulk, Miriam Levering, John Maraldo, Gereon Kopf, David Riggs, Diane Riggs, Michaela Mross, Pamela Winfield on Dogen and broader Soto Zen tradition. These two volumes are, along with Heine’s own 2006 work, now prime sources for analyzing many aspects of the sage’s historical life and literary output. An earlier and still very useful collection of English-language scholarly articles on the multi-faceted Dogen Zenji is William LaFleur, Ed., Dōgen Studies (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1985), with essays by Carl Bielefeldt, Hee-Jin Kim, Abe Masao, Thomas Kasulis, Francis Cook, John Maraldo, Robert Bellah and William LaFleur.

      The Zuimonki, usually still misleadingly called the Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki, is a series of questions and answers with Dogen and stories and commentaries by him from Fall 1234 to Spring 1238 as heard, recorded and edited by his foremost disciple Koun Ejo; several English translations can be found: Reiho Masunaga, Tr., A Primer of Soto Zen-A Translation of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Zuimonki (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii / East-West Center Press, 1971); Yuho Yokoi, The First Step to Dogen’s Zen: Shobogenzo Zuimonki (Tokyo: Sankibo Buddhist Bookstore, 1972); Thomas Cleary, Tr., Record of Things Heard: The “Shobogenzo Zuimonki,” Talks of Zen Master Dogen as Recorded by Zen Master Ejo (Boulder, CO: Prajna Press, 1980); Shohaku Okumura, Tr., Shobogenzo-zuimonki: Sayings of Eihei Dogen (Kyoto: Kyoto Soto Zen Center, 1987), this last one is the version published online by the Sōtō Zen-shū at by the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center.

      See Steven Heine on two aspects of Dogen’s work—koans and poems—topics not much written about outside Japan, Dogen and the Koan Tradition : A Tale of Two “Shobogenzo” Texts (SUNY, 1994); The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace (Boston: Tuttle, 1997), featuring all his Japanese waka and Chinese kanshi poems. For more specific discussions of two chapters within his Shobogenzo, see Leighton & Okumura, Tr., The Wholehearted Way: a Translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa, with commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi (Boston/Tokyo: Tuttle Pub., 1997), on the independent first work by Dogen that is included in the later “official” 95-book collection and made to be the first chapter of his Shobogenzo; and Mel Weitsman, Michael Wenger & Shohaku Okumura, Eds., Dogen’s Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2011), with different translations of the Genjo Koan, positioned as the first book of the original 60- and 75-book version of Shobogenzo, with commentaries not only from the aforementioned editors Weitsman, Wenger and Okumura, but also from luminaries such as Nishiari Bokusan, Shunryu Suzuki, Uchiyama Kosho, and Kazuaki Tanahasi.

      Beyond some already mentioned books by Heine, et al., highly recommended overall works on Dogen’s thought, his way and his significance are Hee-Jin Kim’s insightful and groundbreaking studies, Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist (Wisdom, 4th ed., 2004, orig. publ. in 1975 as Dogen Kigen—Mystical Realist) and Dogen on Meditation and Thinking: His View on Zen (SUNY, 2006) (and see his earlier-cited Flowers of Emptiness on the Shobogenzo); Masao Abe’s masterful A Study of Dōgen: His Philosophy and Religion, Steven Heine, Ed. (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992); Kazuaki Tanahashi & Peter Levitt, Ed. & Tr., The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master (Shambhala, 2013), organized by topics and based on Tanahashi and Levitt’s translation of Shobogenzo; K. Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds: Life and Work of Zen Master Dogen (Shambhala, 1998); K. Tanahashi, Ed. & Tr., Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1985); and Beyond Thinking: Meditation Guide by Zen Master Dogen (Shambhala, 2004); Thomas Cleary, Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1993/2001), containing excerpts from both Shobogenzo and Eihei Koroku, plus good commentary; Yuho Yokoi & Daizen Victoria, Tr. & Ed., Zen Master Dogen: An Introduction with Selected Writings (NY: Weatherhill, 1990), which translates the last 12 essays written by Dogen for his Shobogenzo and also translates three other works; Shohaku Okumura, Tr. & Ed., Dogen Zen (Kyoto: Kyoto Soto Zen Center, 1988) and Okumura, Ed., Dogen Zen and Its Relevance for Our Times: An International Symposium Held in Celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Birth of Dogen Zenji (S.F.: Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, 2003); Francis Cook, Sounds of Valley Streams: Enlightenment in Dogen’s Zen (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1989) and How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice in Dogen’s Shobogenzo (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2002); Carl Bielefeldt, Dogen’s Manuals of Zen Meditation (Berkeley / L.A.: Univ. of California, 1988), focusing especially on the different versions of Dogen’s basic short training essay Fukan Zazengi and other works related to zazen; Steve Bein, Purifying Zen: Watsuji Tetsuro’s Shamon Dogen (Univ. of Hawaii, 2011) (on the earliest objective Dogen scholar, Watsuji Tetsuro, who was analyzing and teaching about Dogen in the 1920s); Jisho Warner, S. Okumura, John McRae, & Taigen Dan Leighton, Eds., Nothing is Hidden: Essays on Zen Master Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook (NY: Weatherhill, 2001); and David Shaner, The Bodymind Experience in Japanese Buddhism: A Phenomenological Study of Kukai and Dogen (SUNY, 1985) (Kukai / Kobo Daishi founded Shingon in Japan in 805, this is the esoteric-tantric form of Buddhism, brought by him from China).


Dumoulin, Heinrich, Zen Buddhism: A History—Volume 1 India and China, James Heisig & Paul Knitter, Tr. (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, rev. ed., 2005; first English ed. publ. 1988, transl. from the 1985 German ed., then released in rev. ed. by Macmillan, 1994 “with a New Supplement on the Northern School of Chinese Zen”). This volume replaces the first half of Dumoulin’s older single-volume work, Zen Buddhism: A History, published in English transl. in 1963 based on the 1959 German original, which itself was an elaboration of his early work, The Development of Chinese Zen after the Sixth Patriarch in Light of the Mumonkan, with Notes & Appendices by Ruth Fuller Sasaki (NY: First Zen Institute, 1953). The early volumes by German Jesuit Catholic priest H. Dumoulin (1905-95), with Ruth Fuller Sasaki’s gigantic contributions, were landmark books for their time, the first straightforward comprehensive history of Chán in China and Zen in Japan to correct what scholar Hu Shih called the “mystifying” tendencies of D.T. Suzuki. In his last, 1985 version of his Zen history, Dumoulin overlooked much work on early Chán by Hu Shih, Yanagida Seizan, Iriya Yoshitaka, John McRae and Bernard Fauré on the Northern School and other topics, something which he then corrected in his 37-page “Supplement” that was added by publisher Macmillan in their 1994 revised edition of Dumoulin’s Zen Buddhism: A History, India and China.

      The second volume in this series is Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History—Volume 2 Japan, James Heisig & Paul Knitter, Tr. (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, rev. ed., 2005, originally publ. by Macmillan in 1990). For the World Wisdom 2005 editions of each volume, new introductions were written by scholars John McRae and Victor Sogen Hori, respectively, showing both the value and also the limitations of Dumoulin’s work, given that an avalanche of new scholarship had already within 15 years rendered some of his work obsolete. This was especially true of his overall idea of a “pure, authentic Zen” that gets revealed in an all-or-nothing “enlightenment” through the Indian and Chinese Patriarchs, that then gets “transmitted” down through generations of enlightened “pure Zen” followers. As Hori remarks in his introduction, Dumoulin’s 2-volume revised history was the last major scholarly attempt to put forth this genealogical, ideological vision of Chan/Zen “before Zen lost its innocence.” Bernard Fauré’s 1991 work, The Rhetoric of Immediacy was one of the newer scholarly works to rebut this naïve view of Chan/Zen history.

      Despite their being outdated in a number of respects, these twin volumes by Dumoulin are still considered a useful quick reference for many facts, dates, historical and spiritual insights—his volume 2 on Japan is especially worthwhile in this respect. The overall caveat on Dumoulin’s work is that it represents the insider “monks’ view” of Chan and Zen tradition—e.g., accepting fairly uncritically Chan’s myths of origin and succession concerning Bodhidharma, Sengcan, Huineng, Linji, et al. In academia, this insider’s view has generally been replaced by the much more cautious, critical and revisionist “outsider’s view,” albeit often based on some amount of “participant-observer” experience.


Dumoulin, Fr. Heinrich, Zen Enlightenment: Origin and Meaning, John Moraldo, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 2nd ed., 2007; orig. publ. by Weatherhill, 1979); and Zen Buddhism in the 20th Century, Joseph O’Leary, Tr. (Weatherhill, 1992) for modern-era developments in Japan.


Egan, Charles, Ed. & Tr., Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China, illus. by Charles Chu, (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2010). Egan presents an anthology of his translation of 190 poems by Chinese Chan monks of the 8th to 17th centuries, with well-detailed explanatory notes. Utilizing scholarly revisionist work on Tang-dynasty Chan by John McRae, Bernard Fauré, et al., Egan also lays out a fine brief history of demythologized Chan as part of his introduction, which includes such cogent distinctions as, “The break between Early Chan and Middle Chan [McRae’s distinction] is not between Northern and Southern Chan, but between doctrinal exposition and encounter dialogue.” Egan also has an interesting discussion of what might be said to constitute “Chan poetry” against the background of the secular poetic verse tradition. For instance, the “Chan poetic code” takes the elements of mainstream poetic imagery, allusions, stylistic forms, (etc.) from the “secular poetic code” and redirects these elements toward a spiritual meaning.


Fauré, Bernard, Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton Univ., 1996); The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton Univ., 1998); The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (Princeton Univ., 2003); Double Exposure: Cutting Across Buddhist and Western Discourses (Menlo Park, CA: Stanford Univ., 2004). Author of an important trilogy of books on early Chán Buddhism (see listings for Fauré in the revisionist scholarly section preceeding this main bibliography), in more recent decades Fauré, a talented student of Yanagida Seizan, increasingly uses postmodernist critical tools to provocatively revision old issues, raise fresh issues and see things in new light. For these reasons, Fauré’s works are recommended reading, despite all the dense, post-structuralist vocabulary in his more recent works.


Fields, Rick, How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America (Boston: Shambhala, 1992). With a very colorful section on the personalities of the Zen, Chán, Seon and Thien Buddhist teachers coming to the USA, starting with Soyen Shaku in 1893.


Fontein, J. and M. Hickman, Zen: Painting and Calligraphy (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1970). Excellent catalogue and commentary on some precious works.


Ford, James Ishmael, Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2006). Has entries on famous old Asian Chán and Zen teachers, but is largely focused on Zen teachers in America, including disappointing scandals around certain figures. See also Ford’s more recent personal reflections and simple wisdom of applying Zen insights and values to everyday life, If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life (Wisdom, 2012). And his blog:  Ford is not only a long-time Zen priest (of the Boundless Way Zen group) but also has served as a Unitarian minister the past 20 years.


Ford, James Ishmael, & Melissa Myozen Blacker, Eds., The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publ., 2011). After translating the commentaries of China’s Dahui and Japan’s Dogen and Hakuin on the “Mukoan, and a few modern Japanese commentators, the remainder of the book (well over half the contents) is commentary by seasoned Zen teachers of the West. A very useful volume, given that Mu is the first koan for nearly all practitioners of Rinzai Zen, and is often also used as a basic form of “critical phrase” inquiry or huatou (Korean: hwadu; Japanese: wato) for Chán, Seon and Zen practitioners working outside the Rinzai school.


Foster, Nelson, & Jack Shoemaker, Eds., The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader (Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1996). Two students of Aitken Roshi provide excellent excerpts from writings/sayings by or attributed to 46 figures, 28 from China (from Bodhidharma, Seng-ts’an and Hui-neng to Hung-chih, Ta-hui and Shih-wu), 18 from Japan (from Dogen to Ryokan). Nelson Foster does new translations of some of the early Chinese works. This is a very fine collection for its type, with brief but eloquently and insightfully written introductions to each figure generally running 2-3 pages, a bit longer for Hakuin and some others. The few critiques of this otherwise very valuable anthology are 1) that it contains no modern-era figures, no Chinese Chán figures past the 14th century (like Zhuhong, Hanshan or Zibo of the Ming era or Xuyun in the 19th-20th century), and no Korean Seon teachers at all (e.g., Jinul, Taego, Seosan, Gyeongheo, Seongcheol, Hanam); 2) as with almost all other Zen anthologies, in its early chapters, aside from excerpts from the genuinely early work, the “Two Entrances, Four Practices” text attributed to Bodhidharma and his followers, the book adds the terrible, apocryphal account of Huike cutting off his own arm before a callous Bodhidharma, and does not try to chronologically present the actual earliest Chán literature available to us from the East Mountain and Northern School teachings of Shenxiu and his predecessors Hongren and the earlier Daoxin. So instead the next chapter features the famous little text Xinxin-ming attributed to the alleged “3rd Patriarch” Sengcan (d.606?) which, as the authors/editors themselves admit, is a work of nearly two centuries later. Then comes the apocryphal Platform Sutra ascribed by Chán figures of the Tang dynasty to the so-called “6th Patriarch,” Hui-neng (d.713), when we know that its earliest extant version dates from around 780, and the text is full of agenda-driven distortions and whoppers. So, again, where are the writings of Shenxiu, “the real 6th Patriarch,” whose teachings were already circulating in the early 700s, nearly a century before the Xinxin-ming and probably 70 years before the Platform Sutra? Such quibbles aside, this book has stood as perhaps the best “Zen reader” for those who don’t wish to avail themselves directly of the few dozen books from which Nelson and Shoemaker drew almost all of their excerpts (aside from Nelson’s new renderings of a few works already existing in various translations).


Foulk, T. Griffith & Robert Sharf, “On the Ritual Use of Ch’an Portraiture in Medieval China,” in Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie (1993, bi-lingual French/English, pp. 149-219; archived at An important essay on the original role and later functions of what was known in China as zhenxiang (or dingxiang; J: chinsō) “true image” formal portraiture of a Chán master. Foulk and Sharf (with the help of extensive work by art historian Elizabeth Horton Sharf) document many fascinating aspects of the explosive growth, from the 11th century onward, of this art-form to commemorate both deceased and living Chán masters with painted or, far less often, sculpted images. The authors debunk a number of supposed “facts” about the genre, such as that these images were given as a sign of Dharma-transmission. In fact they were given to a wide variety of recipients, and usually inscribed by the master, often poking fun at the very idea of creating a “true life resemblance” when our real nature is formless Buddha-nature. Yet “emptiness is form, form is emptiness,” says the Heart Sūtra, which the authors appreciatively quote.


Fowler, Merv, Zen Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Eastbourne, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2005). A retired Head of Philosophy & Religious Studies at the University of Wales in Newport, a longtime Zen practitioner associated with the Soto Zen Priory at Throssel Hole in Northumbria, here connects Zen doctrines with those of the Buddha, traces some of the history of Chan and Zen, and explores practices, with an emphasis on Soto Zen, not Rinzai.


Franck, Frederick, Ed., The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and Its Contemporaries (World Wisdom reprint, 2004; orig. publ. 1991). Deeply insightful essays from leading 20th-century Japanese philosophers including respected Zennists of the Kyoto School. The book is valuable for its multi-faceted contributions on the nature of self and True Self, Reality, Zen, Emptiness, Nature, Shin Buddhism (Pure Land), existentialist thought, the historic interface between East and West, Meister Eckhart and Zen, Grace, etc. The authors here include D.T. Suzuki (four essays), Keiji Nishitani (three essays), Abe Masao (two essays), Shin’ichi Hisamatsu and other fine thinkers. Essays include “What is the ‘I’?”, “Self Unattainable” and “Apropos of Shin” by Suzuki; “The I-Thou Relation in Zen Buddhism” and “Science and Zen” (Nishitani); “God, Emptiness, and the True Self” (Abe Masao); “The Great Path of Absolute Other-Power” (Kiyozawa Manshi); and several others, all selected by Franck from The Eastern Buddhist, “one of the most quietly influential journals to have appeared in the twentieth century,” established by D.T. Suzuki in 1921. The 2004 edition includes an Introduction by scholar Joan Stambaugh.


Fromm, Erich; D.T. Suzuki and Richard De Martino, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (NY: Harper, 1960). Insightful essays by the two psychologists and an even more insightful one by their mentor here, prominent Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki. The book still holds up pretty well even though our knowledge of Zen is much more nuanced today, and the field of psychology has considerably evolved with further developments in Humanistic Psychology (f.1959) and especially with the founding and growth of Transpersonal Psychology (f. 1969).


Furuta, Shokin, Sengai: Master Zen Painter, Reiko Tsukimura, Tr. (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000). See also an earlier work by D.T. Suzuki (1971) on the same topic—the warm, witty Rinzai Zen master Sengai Gibon (1751-1837), who made Zen teachings much more accessible to a wider audience, especially via his light-hearted giga or zenga ink-brush paintings and calligraphy.


Glassman, Bernard Tetsugen, Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen (Boston: Shambhala, 2002); Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace (NY: Bell Tower, 1998); B. Glassman & Rick Fields, Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life that Matters (Bell Tower, 1996); and see also works co-produced by Glassman and Taizan Maezumi, The Hazy Moon of Enlightenment and On Zen Practice (3 vols.), cited under Maezumi. See also a profile and interview of Glassman in Helen Tworkov, Zen in America: Five Teachers and the Search for an American Buddhism (NY: Kodansha, rev. expanded ed., 1994), and Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master (Blue Rider Press, 2013). Glassman (b.1939) is the foremost of twelve Dharma-heirs of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi, the co-founder with Maezumi of the White Plum Asanga in 1979 (transferring leadership in 2006 to Dharma-brother Dennis Genpo Merzel, who resigned a few years later after his sexual transgressions came to light). After Glassman was installed as abbot of Mount Doji, Zenshin Temple of the Zen Community of New York, he spent two decades empowering the homeless in New York (establishing the Greyston Foundation as part of that work), and co-founded with his late wife (Sandra Jishu Holmes) the Zen Peacemaker Order (now Zen Peacemakers), which emphasizes a strongly “engaged Buddhism”—such as his “street retreat” sesshins, wherein Glassman and students go into the streets and parks for weeks at a time to live amongst the homeless at shelters, eat in soup kitchens, practice zazen in the parks and dokusan in the alleys. Glassman has several Dharma-heirs; some time ago he left the priesthood to simply function as a lay teacher, sharing his way of “Unknowing” that he learned from Maezumi.


Goddard, Dwight, Ed. A Buddhist Bible (Boston: Beacon Press ed., 1970). Originally published in 1932 in a 316-page edition focused on Zen sources (online at, an expanded edition in 1938 contained more texts in 677 pages. The book includes several crucial texts pertinent to Chán studies—the Chinese Platform Sutra attributed (falsely) to Hui-neng, and the pre-Chan Indian Mahayana works Lankavatara Sutra, Surangama Sutra, Heart Sutra, and Diamond Sutra, not to mention the Buddha’s words in the Dhammapada, the Daoist Daodejing (Tao Te Ching in the Wade-Giles transliteration used throughout here) and a text from Tiantai Buddhist master Zhiyi on meditation—these last two works an influence on many Chán teachers. Better, more scholarly translations and critical notes have become available for several of these texts (some of these better translations are now online), but these versions by Goddard and his colleagues are readable enough and conveniently bound in one volume for those who aren’t so serious about the scholarly nuances.


Grant, Beata, Eminent Nuns: Women Chan Masters of Seventeenth-Century China (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2008). An extremely valuable history of seven of China’s pre-modern era’s notable women spiritual adepts of the Linji Chan tradition which fills a big gap in western scholarship, not just in terms of Buddhist women, but for this rather neglected time period in Chinese Chan history: the transition from the Ming to Qing dynasties. Most of the women came from literati families and all entered the monasteries voluntarily, four after being widowed. Reviewer Ann Waltner has written for the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (June 2010), “Grant has located discourse records (yulu) written during the seventeenth century by seven women Chan masters of the Linji lineage. These were more or less hidden in plain sight in the [Mingban] Jiaxing Dazang jing, an edition of the Buddhist canon completed in 1719. Through a careful reading of these records and her meticulous detective work in assembling fragments from other sources, Grant has written a remarkable story of female Chan masters—women who studied with male Chan masters, taught women and men, managed and built monasteries, and, most important of all for this study, wrote about what they did…. Scholars of women writers in China have long noted that it was often the patronage of a kinsman that allowed women to publish texts. Nuns were less likely to have such patronage than were gentry laywomen: they depended on a particular kind of institutional patronage to keep their works, and during the seventeenth century Linji Chan provided that kind of patronage. Grant's calling our attention to the institutional aspects of Linji Chan that facilitated the work of nuns and the preservation of their texts is invaluable. Grant explores the lives of seven nuns in detail: the matriarch of the group Qiyuan [or Zhiyuan] Xinggang (1597-1654) in Chapters 3 and 4; two of her seven dharma successors who left yulu [Sayings Records], Yikui Chaochen (1625-1679) and Yigong Chaoke (1615-1661) in Chapter 5; Jizong Xingche (b. 1606) and Baochang Jizong (b. early seventeenth century) in Chapters 6 and 7, respectively; Zuiku Jifu (n.d. but an exact contemporary of Baochang Jizong) in Chapter 8; and Ziyong Chengru (1605-1672) in Chapter 9.”

      See also Beata Grant’s Daughters of Emptiness: Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2003), covering several dynasties and including many previously neglected Chan Buddhist women’s verses (in bilingual Chinese-English format), and her earlier lengthy article, “Through the Empty Gate: The Poetry of Buddhist Nuns in Late Imperial China,” in Marsha Weidner, Ed., Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2001), which has ample biographic material and poetry selections found on the female masters Xinggang et al. profiled in Grant’s other works. See also Grant’s “Female Holder of the Lineage: Linji Chan Master Zhiyuan Xinggang (1597–1654),” Late Imperial China, 17:2 (Dec. 1996): 51–76.


Green, James, Tr. & Introd., The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1998). On the very famous Chán master Zhaozhou Congshen (Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen; J: Joshu) (778-897); he and Linji Yixuan were considered the two great teachers of “North of the Yellow River Zen” during the Tang dynasty (618-907). See also Yoel Hoffmann, Radical Zen: The Sayings of Joshu (Brookline, MA: Autumn Press, 1978).


Grigg, Ray, The Tao of Zen (Boston: Tuttle, 1994). Argues against modern scholarship that Chán primarily consists of the contemplative Daoist/Taoist view and practice even more than it represents Mahayana Buddhism. Japanese Zen allowed the Daoist spirit to have a fresh influence in that country. Yet as far back as the early 7th century when his teachings were belatedly compiled, the “4th Patriarch” Daoxin (580-651) was heard to be gently critiquing the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi from a Chán Buddhist viewpoint and articulating an even freer view based more on Mahayana than on Daoism. Grigg is not the first to make the case for considerable Daoist influence on Chán. Yi Wu and other Chinese scholars have previously done so in academic papers.


Hakuin Ekaku, Wild Ivy, the Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin, Norman Waddell, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 1999/2010); N. Waddell, Tr., Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin: A Translation of the Sokko-roku Kaien-fusetsu (Shambhala, 1994) (Hakuin’s famously scathing lectures from Spring of 1740); N. Waddell, Tr., Hakuin’s Precious Mirror Cave: A Zen Miscellany (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2009); N. Waddell, Tr., Beating the Cloth Drum: Letters of Zen Master Hakuin (Shambhala, 2012) (with 28 of Hakuin’s letters to students, political figures, fellow teachers, laity and friends, beginning with the first one extant, from 1914, each letter accompanied by extensive commentary and notes); N. Waddell, Tr., Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra (Shambhala, 1996); Philip Yampolsky, The Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings (NY: Columbia Univ., 1971); Albert Low, Tr., Hakuin on Kensho: The Four Ways of Knowing (Shambhala, 2006); Audrey Yoshiko Seo & Stephen Addiss, The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin (Shambhala, 2010); and Katsuhiro Yoshizawa, The Religious Art of Zen Master Hakuin (Counterpoint, 2009), this valuable work by the editor/annotator of the 14 vols. of Hakuin’s official collected works in the modern Japanese edition. The exceptional spiritual master Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769) of Shoin-ji monastery was by far the most influential figure in Japan’s Rinzai Zen tradition since the Edo period, reviving the school from stagnancy by renewing its monastic life, intensifying the use of koan and zazen, and bringing Zen to people of all stations. So widespread and talented were his 50 known and likely another 50 unknown Dharma-heirs, that all Rinzai roshis today trace their lineage through him, and all modern Rinzai Zennists use practices derived from his teachings on disciplined koan and zazen meditation practice, kensho experiences, penetrating realization of the Four Wisdoms and Five Ranks (mutuality of Host-Guest, Absolute and phenomena), etc. Hakuin late in life also famously taught via his thousands of Zen paintings and calligraphic works, not just his dynamic talks and writings.


Hall, John Whitney, Gen. Ed., The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988-99). This six-volume series contains much information about Zen and related historical-cultural developments. Coverage specifically of Zen begins with Volume 3, Medieval Japan, Kozo Yamamura, Ed. (1990) and continues through Volume 4, Early Modern Japan, J.W. Hall & James McClain, Eds. (1991), Vol. 5, The Nineteenth Century, Marius Jansen, Ed. (1989), and Vol. 6, The Twentieth Century, Peter Duus, Ed. (1988).


Hanam Jungwon. See Patrick Uhlmann, “Son Master Pang Hanam: A Preliminary Consideration of His Thoughts According to the Five Regulations for the Sangha,” in Jin Y. Park (Ed.), Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (SUNY, 2010); B.K. Zingmark, “A Study of the Letters of Korean Seon Master Hanam,” Master’s Thesis, Dongguk University, Seoul, S.Korea, 2002; Chong Go Sunim (formerly Brian Zingmark), “The Life and Letters of Son Master Hanam,” International J. of Buddhist Thought & Culture, 9 (Sep. 2007): 61-86 (; and “The Letters of Hanam Sunim: Practice after Enlightenment and Obscurity,” International J. of Buddhist Thought & Culture, 10 (Feb. 2008): 123-145 ( The outstanding Seon master Bang [Abbot] Hanam Jungwon (Chungwŏn; 1876-1951) trained for four years under Gyeongheo/Kyongho (1846-1912, the modern-era reviver of Korean Seon Buddhism), before heading the meditation halls at Tongdosa Temple, other important temples in the Myohyang and Taebaek/Diamond Mountains, and then from 1925 onward residing at a small hermitage near Sangwon Temple and then the main temple itself in remote Odae Mountain in what is now northeast South Korea. Hanam reluctantly thrice accepted the title of Patriarch of the Jogye/Chogye Order of Seon Buddhism (in 1936, 1941, 1948), but rather than come to Seoul, he stayed at his far-off mountain base at Sangwon, living very austerely despite being chronically ill, primarily teaching the various aspects of a complete Seon Buddhism (not just deep meditation, but also scriptural study, etc.) to many visiting monks and nuns who came to train with him despite the especially tough living conditions. Most of his writings were destroyed in a fire in 1947, but his extant letters reveal a consummate, gracious sage who promoted peace and harmony among different factions and insisted, like National Master Jinul (d.1210), that diligent, nondual practice follow all enlightenment experiences so as to thoroughly eradicate all subtle forms of selfish karma, laziness and bad habits. Chong Go Sunim and Uhlmann have explained the politics of why Hanam and his teachings are only just in recent decades being rediscovered again by the Jogye Order.


Han-shan, The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, Red Pine, Tr. (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, rev. expanded bilingual ed., 2000). Red Pine, the pen-name of China-writer Bill Porter, gives readers a complete collection of verses by Chinese recluse Hanshan (Cold Mountain) (8th or 9th century), former householder and then prototypical “holy fool” of Chán along with his friend Shide. Earlier translators of Hanshan include Burton Watson, Robert Henricks, et al. Wikipedia has a long entry on Hanshan, featuring many poems transl. by Red Pine and Wandering Poet.


Han-shan, The Autobiography & Maxims of Chán Master Han Shan (1546-1623), Richard Cheung, Tr., Rev. Chuan Yuan (Ming Zhen) Shakya, Ed. (Honolulu, HI: Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun, 1993; online in full at See also Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk), Tr., "The Autobiography of Ch’an Master Han Shan (1546-1623)," in his Practical Buddhism (London: Rider, 1971). Other works of Charles Luk give considerable coverage to several of Hanshan’s writings—see Ch’an and Zen Teaching, Series 1 (London: Rider, 1960) and Series 3 (Rider, 1962); Secrets of Chinese Meditation (Rider, 1964). Hanshan Deqing (Han-shan Te-ch’ing, 1546-1623) was one of the most eminent “later men of Chan” flourishing in the last decades of the Ming dynasty along with his friend, Chán master Zibo Zhenke (1543-1604), and their elder contemporary Yunqi Zhuhong. All three Chán sages notably combined Pure Land recitation of and wise inquiry into the Buddha Amitabha’s name as part of a deep Chán practice. For a fine scholarly study, see Sung-peng Hsu, A Buddhist Leader in Ming China: The Life and Thought of Han-shan Te-ch’ing, 1546-1623 (University Park, PA: Penn State Univ., 1979), which, after the opening two sections on methodology and historical background, studies Hanshan’s autobiography and then in the last section analyzes his teachings on several topics. More recent scholarship includes Lynn Struve, “Deqing’s Dreams: Signs in a Reinterpretation of His Autobiography,” J. of Chinese Religions, 40 (2012), 1-44; Dewei Zhang, “Challenging the Reigning Emperor for Success: Hanshan Deqing (1546-1623) and Late Ming Court Politics,” J. of the American Oriental Society 134.2 (2014), 263-87.


Harada, Shodo, Morning Dew Drops of the Mind: Teachings of a Contemporary Zen Master (Frog Books, 1993); Harada, Shodo, with Jane Lago & Priscilla Daichi Storandt, The Path to Bodhidharma: Teachings of Shodo Harada Roshi (Tuttle, 2000). Harada (b.1940), abbot of Sogen-ji in Okayama, Japan, is a leading Rinzai roshi, chief student of Mumon Yamada (1900-88), the former head of Myoshinji temple-network in Japan, Rinzai’s largest temple complex. Both men formed extensive ties with Rinzai students in the West.


Harding, D.E., On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious (Carlsbad, CA: Inner Directions ed., 2004). This book, the first widely-read book of over a dozen Harding works, was originally published in 1961 in London by The Buddhist Society with the subtitle “An Introduction to Zen in the West.” It came nine years after his first major work, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth: A New Diagram of Man in the Universe (London: Faber & Faber, 1952), acclaimed as “a work of the highest genius” by C.S. Lewis in his Preface. (The Shollond Trust in U.K. in 1998 released an unabridged edition of this earliest work.) The deeply insightful and eloquent Douglas E. Harding (1909-2007) was an unpretentious sage, not affiliated with any religion or sect, who in the 1960s-1970s devised a brilliant set of “Experiments in the Science of the 1st Person” (leading to a book of the same name, publ. by Shollond in 1974), a form of self-inquiry and Self-Realization which he openly shared in workshops and talks for over 40 years, usually without ever charging a penny, whether teaching in his homeland of England or traveling to mainland Europe or the USA. These experiments immediately, clearly, and non-conceptually reveal our Formless and “Form-full” True Nature as the “No-thing-like” Source for all things, the “spacious capacity for all experience,” or the “Host for all guests/phenomena,” to use the language of Dongshan. Harding’s experiments like the “pointing finger,” “Big One/little one,” and “the open bag” demonstrably communicate this colorless, shapeless, formless, changeless Source-Reality more accessibly, directly and vividly than any spiritual method, teaching or scripture in existence. All his experiments are well-presented at the website for Harding’s life and work, created by his close friend Richard Lang. Many longtime Zen students who’ve struggled to realize their Original (Faceless) Face via zazen, huatou-investigation, koan-contemplation, or scripture-study can easily awaken to Intrinsic Reality or Open Awareness via Harding’s lucid experiments and illuminating words wisely pointing back to our True Nature (closer than thought, closer than the eyeballs), without having to become enmeshed in the rigid and even dysfunctional cult dynamics of too many Zen institutions promoting dubious “enlightenment” under authoritarian “masters.” British author Anne Bancroft, who compiled a few books on Zen (e.g., the well-illustrated Zen: Direct Pointing to Reality, Thames & Hudson, 1979), featured D.E. Harding as one of her chosen sages in Modern Mystics & Sages (London/NY: Paladin, 1978). In addition to the aforementioned early works, see some of Harding’s later books such as The Little Book of Life and Death (London: Penguin Arkana, 1988); Head Off Stress (Arkana, 1990); Look for Yourself (UK: Head Exchange Press, 1996; to be republished by The Shollond Trust); Face to No-Face, David Lang, Ed. (Inner Directions, 2000); To Be and Not To Be (London: Watkins, 2002); Open to the Source, Richard Lang, Ed. (Inner Directions, 2005), et al., several available as e-books, along with DVDs/videos at


Harris, Ishwar, The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji: The Life of Zen Master Keido Fukushima (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2004). The late Fukushima Keido (1933-2011), a disciple of Zenkei Shibayama (1894-1974) of Nanzen-ji, was from 1980 to 2009 the abbot of Tofuku-ji, Kyoto’s largest and one of its oldest Zen temples, and also a renowned calligraphy brush master who frequently toured the USA from 1989 on, giving demonstrations of the art as well as talks and trainings on Rinzai Zen. See also Jason Wirth (2003). The biographical material in Harris’ book is fairly short; much of the book is Harris’ commentary on some of Keido’s teachings.


Harris, Peter, Zen Poems (NY: Alfred Knopf / Everyman’s Library, 1999). One or more poems from 43 different Chinese, Japanese and Korean figures, most of them Chán/Zen adepts.


Haskel, Peter, Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tosui (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / U. of Hawaii, 2001). On a humble, eccentric Soto Zennist of the 17th-18th century who trained hard as a monastic for years, received inka from his illustrious Zen teacher, led training sessions at a Soto Zen temple for five years but then preferred to jettison institutional Zen. He suddenly left one day at the end of a retreat to adopt an independent spiritual life mixing with people from all walks of life when not living in seclusion. One disciple found him living under a bridge with beggars. At a certain point he was making straw sandals. Haskel provides a valuable introduction and notes and translates the “Tribute” to Tosui (the Tosui Osho Densan) completed in 1768 by the famous Soto Zen master and scholar, Menzan Zuiho, also providing copies of the woodblock print-images commissioned for the 1768 edition. This is a valuable window onto Zen life both inside and outside the monastery during the first half of the Edo era.


Heine, Steven, Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters (Oxford U. Press, 2004). An extremely important study by one of the finest scholars working today, Heine examines the cultural context for the arising of the famous ancient koans. For further work on koans by the same author, see S. Heine, Shifting Shape, Shaping Text: Philosophy & Folklore in the Fox Kōan (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999); S. Heine, Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Kōan in Zen Buddhism (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013). See, too, Heine’s several authored or edited works in the bibliographic listings under “Dogen Zenji.”


Heine, Steven, and Dale Wright, Eds., Zen Masters (Oxford U. Press, 2010); The Kōan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism (2000); Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory in Practice (2007); The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts (2004); Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism (2005) (all published by Oxford Univ. Press). Excellent collection of essays by various scholars of Chán/Zen such as Ishii Shudo, Mario Poceski, T. Griffith Foulk, John McRae, Albert Welter, Morten Schlütter, Heine, Wright, et al., based on the mountain of research now extant and continually emerging. The Zen Masters book has chapters on Baizhang (Pai-chang), Dongshan (Tung-shan), Yongming, Dahui (Ta-hui), Dogen, Menzan, and modern-era figures Shaku Soen, Hisamatsu Shin’ichi, Taizan Maezumi, and Seung Sahn. The Zen Canon and The Zen Classics are scholarly discussions of different seminal works, not translations of them. These books from Oxford Univ. Press make for a good recent sampling of the kind of disciplined investigation and re-thinking of old ideas that has been occurring in East Asian studies since work commenced in the early 1980s at University of Hawaii’s Kuroda Institute.


Heller, Natasha, Illusory Abiding: The Cultural Construction of the Chan Monk Zhongfeng Mingben (Harvard Univ. Press, 2014). Based on her doctoral dissertation, this book released late in 2014 examines the life, teachings and significance of Zhongfeng Mingben, who was the most respected Chán master of the early 14th century during the Mongol-led Yuan dynastic era. A number of important Chinese and Japanese disciples learned Mingben’s way, a no-nonsense way of meditating on Mind.


Herrigel, Eugen, Zen in the Art of Archery (NY: Pantheon, 1956, orig. publ. in German in 1948, based on 1936 lectures transl. into Japanese in 1941). The earliest of the “Zen and Art of...” books, it had worldwide impact, both on Japan and the West, telling of Herrigel’s training under Awa Kenzo in the latter 1920s. Shoji Yamada, in Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen and the West (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009) says that Awa Kenzo was not a trained Zen teacher, and that the book promotes an unreal ideal of the “Zen-ness” of Japanese culture. Herrigel had in fact befriended a lay Zen teacher earlier in Germany, and later learned much more about Zen. His The Method of Zen (1960) explains authentic Zen principles. Robert Sharf (1995), commenting on the supposed enlightenment experience that happened to a disinterested Herrigel as recounted in the first book on archery, has clarified that “Herrigel was neither a Buddhist scholar, nor an initiate in a traditional Buddhist sect. He was, rather, a German academic with a distinctly romantic bent of mind, who taught philosophy at Tokyo University in the 1920s.” And later, as Gershom Scholem documented in his 1961 paper “Zen Fascism” (and Sharf cites), Herrigel joined the Nazi party soon after returning to Germany and remained loyal to the Nazi cause throughout the course of World War II.


Hinton, David, Tr., The Mountain Poems Of Meng Hao-jan (NY: Archipelago Books, 2004). Meng Hao-jan (689-740 CE) was one of China’s great poets during the Tang era, deeply influenced by Chan Buddhism with his sense of terse and sometimes enigmatic wording; he was China’s first master of the short image-rich landscape poem that came to typify ancient Chinese poetry. The widely acclaimed translator Hinton (who has translated the Daodejing, Zhuangzi and Analects of Confucius and Mencius) here provides the first edition of Meng Hao-jan’s poetry in English translation.


Hirai, Tomio, Zen Meditation Therapy (Tokyo: Japan Publications, 1975). Includes experimental scientific studies on the efficacy of Zen practice for better mental and physical health.


Hodge, Stephen, Zen Master Class: A Course in Zen Wisdom from Traditional Masters (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2002). Beautifully illustrated, 144-page, uncritical presentation of something of the lives (or traditional myths) and limited teachings (genuine or apocryphal) of eleven Chinese Chan figures (Bodhidharma, Sengcan, Huineng, Mazu, Baizhang, et al. up to Yunmen), including Shenxiu and Yixing (685-727) of the Northern School (not usually presented in these types of books); and more reliable accounts of eight Japanese Zen masters (Eisai, Dogen, Jakushitsu Genko, Bassui, Takuan Soho, Bankei, Hakuin, and Ryokan). Each chapter ends with a type of “lesson,” hence the title of the book.


Hoffmann, Yoel, Tr., The Sound of The One Hand: 281 Zen Koans with Answers (NY: Basic Books, 1975). With the translating help of contemporary Zen master Hirano Sojo, and featuring Zen scholar Ben-Ami Scharfstein’s 33-page Introduction, this controversial but crucial book revealed for the first time in English “all the koans which the Zen novice has to answer during the long course of his training for qualification as a Zen master, together with the traditional answers”—the answers based on the kind of notes that a novice would be encouraged to keep, notes that would years later be reviewed and edited by a Zen teacher if/when he gave dharma-transmission to that student. The book was originally published in Japanese as the “scandalous” Gendai soji Zen hyoron, compiled by a certified Zen teacher, Fukunaga (or Tominaga) Shūho, in 1916 writing pseudonymously as “Ha Hōō,” “Arch-Destroyer of the Existent Order.” His intention, he said, was to expose the vast number of Rinzai Zen “masters” as fakes and empower anyone sincerely interested in Zen to know as much about koans as the supposed masters of the day and to find real enlightenment beyond their Rinzai Zen power structures. The rather puritannical-sounding “Ha Hōō” was mainly opposed to the way Hakuin’s followers had structured the koan learning-system and distanced themselves and their followers from the Buddha’s essential wisdom and the teachings and gong’an work of the old Chinese Chán sages and earlier independent Japanese sages like Bassui and Bankei, instead clinging to an artificial system with too many stereotyped, hollow responses. The original book contained pro and con commentary from Zen teachers added by the Japanese publisher. Copies of the book were bought up and destroyed by several Tokyo Zen teachers who thought the book heretical, but the publisher printed new editions. With Hirano Sojo’s help, Hoffmann gives readers an English translation of about half the book—the section focusing on the koans and their answers—but he leaves out the main part of the Japanese book, which formed a long critical analysis of the contemporary Rinzai Zen school, surely worth reading as a historical window onto the times. Yet Hoffmann, in his Translator’s Note, does synopsize “Ha Hōō’s” arguments (pp. 42-3) from the missing section, and he finally concludes: “It seems fair to assume that the worst part of the traditional system of ‘Hakuin-Zen’ was not composed by Master Hakuin himself but by some of his less-gifted disciples.” Hoffmann also marvels that the Japanese version of the book was able to be kept secret from most Japanese Zen scholars working just a few decades later and evidently also kept secret from nearly all western scholars except P.B. Yampolsky (who mentioned it in a brief footnote to his work The Zen Master Hakuin). Hoffmann thinks most early scholarship in English on koans suffered from not having the answers made available by Ha Hōō, and says, “I suspect that even D.T. Suzuki, who introduced Zen to the West a few decades ago, did not know the answers to the koans.”


Hoover, Thomas, The Zen Experience: The Historical Evolution of Zen Through the Lives and Teachings of Its Great Masters (NY: New American Library, 1980). Very brief overview of Daoist and Buddhist roots of Chán, then ably profiles two dozen major Chinese masters up to Dahui (Ta-hui), then four Japanese Zen masters (Eisai, Dogen, Ikkyu, Hakuin). See also Hoover’s Zen Culture: How Zen Has Influenced Art, Architecture, Literature, Sports, Ceramics, Theatre (NY: Random House, 1977). On Zen history, haiku poetry, raku ceramic art, zenshūyō architecture, chanoyu tea ceremony, ikebana flower arranging, Zen landscapes and rock-sand gardens, ink-brush landscape painting, and theater. Both of these books, somewhat dated in some of their contents, are available as free downloads from


Hori, Victor Sogen, Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice (University of Hawaii Press, 2003). A tour de force for Zen scholars and practitioners (especially Rinzai Zen students)—its long introduction containing perhaps the best writing anywhere on the nature and purpose of kōans (dispelling several myths) and also on the crucial jakugo or agyo “capping phrases” which are extensively used in kōan-training. These are the classical verses in Chinese demanded by the teacher to express one’s insight into the kōan after one has replied to the kōan. Thus, anything more than superficial study of kōans requires in-depth literary knowledge of classical Chinese traditions. Hori then provides over 500 pages of jakugo in fully translating two key Japanese works. He also furnishes a glossary of nearly 100 pages, filled with interesting terms, fictional and historical characters, and figures of speech from the Chinese and Japanese traditions. The exceptionally fine 90-page Introduction is available online at


Hsieh, Ding-hwa E., “Images of Women in Ch’an Buddhist Literature of the Sung Period,” in Peter Gregory & Daniel Getz, Jr., Eds., Buddhism in the Sung (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1999, pp. 148-87). This article contains useful material on medieval Chan Buddhist women. See also Ding-hwa E. Hsieh’s follow-up article, “Buddhist Nuns in Sung China (960-1279),” Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, 30 (2000): 63-96.


Hsü-yün (Pinyin: Xuyun), Empty Cloud: The Autobiography of the Chinese Zen Master Xu Yun, Cen Xuelu, compiler, Charles Luk, Tr., Richard Hunn, Ed. (Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element Books, 1988); Hsuan Hua, A Pictorial Biography of the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, 2 Vols. (San Francisco, CA: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2nd ed., 2003); Master Hsu Yun’s Discourses and Dharma Words, C. Luk, Tr. (Taipei, Taiwan: The Corporate Buddha Educational Foundation, 1996; online in full at; Jy Din Sakya, Ed., Empty Cloud: The Teachings of Xu Yun and a Remembrance of the Great Chinese Zen Master (Honolulu, HI: Hsu Yun Temple, 1995). On the long-lived, monumental figure Xuyun / Hsü-yün, “Empty Cloud” (c1864-1959, often given as 1840-1959), universally considered a “living Buddha” and the most enlightened Chán master in China’s previous 300 years. Xuyun was a lineal successor to and influential reviver of all “Five Families of Chán.” Traveling widely over China, he also blended Chán with Pure-Land (Jingtu) devotional Buddhism, the Sutra school, and the Vinaya school of monastic precepts. Most of China’s most eminent teachers among the Chán monasteries and lineages (renewed since the 1980s after the years of near-total suppression by the Communists) trace a link to Xuyun. The only serious academic study of Xuyun and the various biographical sources is Daniela Campo’s work in French, based on her doctoral dissertation examining primary sources and interviews with Xuyun’s disciples, La construction de la sainteté dans la Chine moderne: La vie du maître bouddhiste Xuyun [The Construction of Sanctity in Modern China: The Life of Buddhist Master Xuyun] (Paris: Belles Lettres, 2013). For an English-language work, see Daniela Campo, “The Story of a Life and of its Narrative: Xuyun, an old Chan Master as a Timeless Saint”, in Vincent Goossaert, Ji Zhe and David Ownby, Eds., The Making of Saints in Modern and Contemporary China: Profiles in Religious Leadership (forthcoming).


Hsüan-hua, Venerable Master Hua’s Talks on Dharma, Volumes I-XI (Talmage, CA: Sino-American Buddhist Assoc.,1978 [the SABA was in 1984 renamed the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association]). Dharma talks by the illustrious Chán Master Xuanhua / Hsüan-hua (1918-1995), a disciple of Xuyun (regarded as the greatest Chán master since the Ming dynastic period). Shifu (Beloved Teacher) Hsüan-hua, a forceful and wryly humorous teacher and deeply intuitive sage, after presciently fleeing the Communist takeover of China in 1949, established Chán monasteries and centers in Hong Kong in the 1950s, San Francisco from 1962 onward, and then in 1976 the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas monastery-university in Talmage, CA (110 miles north of San Francisco); many other monasteries and temples have sprung up since then. For materials on Master Hua, including downloadable books of his teachings, see One can also download here Heng-yin, Tr. & Ed., Records of the Life of the Venerable Master Hsuan-hua, 2 vols. (Sino-American Buddhist Assoc./DRBA, 1975), the inspiring biography of Hsüan-hua. His publishing group has published English translations of many key Mahayana Buddhist texts from Chinese collections, with commentaries by Hsüan-hua. See and for official websites on Master Hua, including many printed talks. One significant aspect of Hsüan-hua’s ministry was the reviving of the complete ordination ceremony for Buddhist women coming from around the world wishing to become fully observant bhikshuni nuns and enjoy the full rights of ordained Sangha members. He also went to great lengths to foster an ecumenical unity between the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions.


Huai-chin, Nan, The Story of Chinese Zen, Thomas Cleary, Tr. (Boston: Tuttle, 1995). Not aware of some of the crucial scholarship done on early Chan—e.g., the demythologizing of Huineng and of the notion of a continuous line of “Six Patriarchs” from Bodhidharma onward—Huai-chin nevertheless rightly argues that Chan became too focused on the figure of Huineng (not enough on Daoxin and Hongren) and on the idea of “sudden enlightenment,” ignoring the need for thorough preparation in the holy life. He also regards the later Chan emphasis on gong’ans (J: koans), the hua-tou “punch-line” question, and ritualistic meditation as too artificial and imbalanced.


Huang, Yi-hsun, Integrating Chinese Buddhism: A Study of Yongming Yanshou’s Guanxin Xuanshu (Taipei, Taiwan: Dharma Drum Publ., 2005). Important work (based on her lengthy 2001 PhD dissertation at Univ. of Virginia) by a female professor of Buddhist studies at Taiwan’s Fo Guang Univ. examining the views of Yongming Yanshou (904-976), a scholarly Chan monk of the Fayan house who aimed to integrate the various schools of Chinese Buddhism—Tiantai, Huayan, and Jingtu/Pure Land—under a single Chan practice, contemplation of mind (guanxin). Huang provides a fine introduction to the multi-faceted work of Yongming Yanshou and an annotated translation of his Guanxin xuanshu (The Profound Pivot of Mind-Contemplation), utilizing the heretofore seldom seen complete version of the text, copied from an 11th century Japanese manuscript held at Tenri University library. Yi-hsun Huang has also written important papers for various Chinese Buddhist journals on Buddhist master Yongjia and “literary Chan” figures like Zhimen and Xuedou.


Humphreys, Christmas, Zen Buddhism (London: Heinemann, 1949). One of the early “intro” books on the subject, by the first westerner to write on Zen for a European audience. Humphreys (1901-83) was a British barrister, a Theosophist and Buddhist, and head of the Buddhist Society in London (renamed in 1943, formerly the Mahabodhi Society from the mid-1920s). His Zen Buddhism is based mainly on the English-language works of D.T. Suzuki, and so carries the benefits and drawbacks from that association. Humphreys adds from his own longtime background in studies of the Pāli Buddhist tradition of South Asia. A more mature work is his A Western Approach to Zen (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publ. House, 1972).


Hyers, Conrad, Zen and the Comic Spirit (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1973). Despite its erudition, this is the funniest book on the bibliography; it “explains” the punch-lines of the Zen jokes and still you laugh, all in the context of an overall scholarly, sincere and respectful approach.


Hyewon, the Venerable & David A. Mason, Encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism (Seoul: Unju-sa Publ. 2014). A valuable reference work, containing 570 key entries and 180 photographs.


Ikkyu, Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology, Sonja Arntzen, Tr. (Univ. of Tokyo Press, 1987), the most extensive translation of Ikkyu’s Kyounshu poetry collection; Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu, John Stevens, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 1995); James Sanford, Zen-Man Ikkyu (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981); I.G. Reynolds, The Possible Impossibles of Ikkyu the Wise (Philadelphia: Macrae Smith, 1971); Jon Carter Covell and Abbot Sobin Yamada, Unraveling Zen’s Red Thread: Ikkyu’s Controversial Way (Elizabeth, NJ: HollyM International, 1980); and Stephen Berg, Tr., Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth: 15th Century Zen Master (Copper Canyon Press, 2000), which renders several dozen of Ikkyu’s 4-line poems into couplets. See also Melissa Anne-Marie Curley “Zen-Boy Ikkyū,” in Vanessa Sasson, Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions (Oxford U. Press, 2013), pp. 326-46. Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481), renowned Zen poet, essayist, flute-player, sumi-e painter, tea master, calligrapher, and very eccentric “heretic saint” of Rinzai, long ago became a folk-hero to rogues and mischievous children. A near suicide at age 21 upon the death of his first Zen teacher, Kenno, after the death of his second beloved master, Keso (who confirmed Ikkyu’s satori-enlightenment in 1420), Ikkyu became a vagabond. The outspoken, often-drunk Ikkyu caroused with artists, poets, and sexually consorted with prostitutes as “an enlightened religious rite” while criticizing much of the Zen establishment as addicted to fame and power. In his late 50s, Ikkyu settled into living in a hermitage with some disciples. Much later in life he reluctantly became abbot of the famous but ruined Daitokuji Rinzai temple complex in Kyoto in order to rebuild it after destruction in the Onin War. The life of Ikkyu has been dramatized in manga Japanese comic-book form in Sakaguchi Hisashi’s now classic 1,000-page work, Akkanbe Ikkyū (“Rascal Ikkyū,” Tokyo: Kodansha Manga Bunko, 1995), available online in English translation at


Iryŏp, Kim, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun: Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryŏp, Jin Y. Park, Tr. (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2014). Born Kim Won-ju (1896-1971) of Christian missionary parents in what is now North Korea, her pen name rendered “Kim Iryeop” in the newer Korean Romanization transliteration system, she became in her twenties and thirties a prolific intellectual and pioneering feminist, intrigued with Buddhist tradition and modernity, women’s rights, true morality, etc. Entering monastic life as a ten-precepts Buddhist nun in the Seon tradition in 1933 she was a leading luminary in the revival of women’s involvement in Seon Buddhism within Korea from her base at the ancient Sudeok-sa temple. This book, originally published in Korean in 1960 when she was in her mid-60s, runs in English translation to over 300 pages including Park’s introduction and features Kim’s autobiographic essays and critical observations of society and religion, her short stories, and her poems—all on a variety of themes relevant to the modern reader.


Izutsu, Toshihiko, Toward a Philosophy of Zen Buddhism (Tehran: 1982). By an insightful scholar of world religions.


James, Simon, Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics (Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 2004). On the morals of engaged Zen.


Jiheo, Ven., Diary of a Korean Zen Monk, Jong Kweon Yi & Frank Tedesco, Tr. (Korea: Association of Korean Buddhist Orders, 2010). Written shortly after the Korean War (1950-3), this short account (144 pages) contains a translation of a spiritual aspirant’s diary notes from a 3-month retreat at Songgwangsa, the famous Seon/Zen training monastery founded by Jinul (d.1210) in southwest Korea. Readers interested in this topic will also wish to see Robert Buswell’s The Zen Monastic Experience (1992) about life at Songgwangsa monastery as he experienced it training there in the 1970s.


Johnston, William, Ed., Encyclopedia of Monasticism (London/Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000). Covers Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox Christian and Western Christian traditions, with over 600 entries in roughly 2000 pages arranged alphabetically, and covering important persons, historical developments, schools/traditions, doctrines, concepts, controversies, practices, architecture and art-work, and places—sorted by particular country, city or monastery; e.g., for countries pertinent to Buddhism, see the long, well-written entries on Korea, Japan, and China. Certain aspects of monastic and spiritual life are described in both their Buddhist and Christian contexts, not only traditional subjects such as celibacy, fasting, hermit-life, etc., but also modern ones like the internet. Supplemental bibliographies and cross-references guide the reader toward further reading. Well illustrated with 48 pages of color plates. The introduction states, “except in one or two comparative entries, the Encyclopedia of Monasticism does not encompass Hindu, Jain, Daoist, or Islamic monastics or confraternities.” Nevertheless, this expensive volume is a treasure, with much information pertinent to students of Zen.


Jones, Charles Brewer, Buddhism in Taiwan (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999). A fine overview of the relatively short yet convoluted history of Buddhism in this island nation, dominated for its first several centuries by a kind of folk religion, then experiencing the Japanese occupation from 1895 to 1945 and unsuccessful attempt to integrate Japanese Buddhist schools into Taiwan; in 1949-50 came the massive influx of mainlander Chinese fleeing the Communist revolution; then, in the era of exponential urban/suburban growth and the new economy, arose in the 1980s and 1990s a widespread growth of Chinese Buddhism utilizing both traditional orthodox monastic forms and innovative “socially engaged Buddhism” multi-media approaches appealing to millions of laypersons. As case studies for the “new pluralism” allowed by a 1989 government law, Jones focuses on three huge “socially engaged” movements: Foguangshan Buddha’s Light Mountain order founded by the eclectic Chán master Hsing-yun/Xingyun; the Tzu Chi (Ciji) Compassionate Relief Society founded by Taiwanese nun Cheng-yen/Zhengyan; and the Fagushan Dharma Drum Mountain order established by Chán master Sheng-yen/Shengyan. Since the release of Jones’ book, another popular Chán order has visibly emerged on the Taiwanese Buddhist scene: the Chung Tai Chan Ssu founded by master Wei-chüeh.


Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies (Taipei, Taiwan: Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies). Formerly from 1987 to 2013 known as the Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, a peer-reviewed academic journal with multi-lingual articles (mainly Chinese and English) until 2008 after which it shifted to English-only format. Founded by Chán master Sheng-yen (1930-2009), and co-edited by his students Daniel Stevenson and Jimmy Yu, this is “the definitive scholarly journal in English devoted to the historical study of Chinese Buddhism in the premodern and modern periods.” A recurring emphasis on Chán Buddhism can be found in the journal’s volumes.


Jun, Guo, Essential Chan Buddhism: The Character and Spirit of Chinese Zen, Kenneth Wapner, Ed. (Monkfish, 2013). This short, practice-oriented book is based on 2010 talks by Guo Jun, a Singapore-born, eclectic student of Chinese (Taiwanese) Chan, Korean Seon, Tibetan Buddhism, Japanese Shingon and Theravada Buddhism; he is a dharma heir of Taiwanese Chan teachers Qinyin and Shengyan (Sheng-yen). Among other positions, Guo Jun was abbot of the latter’s Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, New York, from 2005 to 2008.


Kapleau, Philip, Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice and Enlightenment (NY: Anchor, 4th rev. expanded ed., 2000/1989; orig. publ. 1966). This famous, fairly early book on Zen for westerners—one of the most substantial of its kind—features the teachings of the straightforward 14th-century Japanese Rinzai Zen master, Bassui Tokusho, and then the Soto-Rinzai combination Zen teachings of Harada Sogaku (1871-1961) and his leading successor, Yasutani (1884-1973), the founder of the small independent Zen school, Sanbo Kyodan in 1954. The Sanbo Kyodan had an inordinate influence on the West, starting with this widely-read book by Kapleau. Philip Kapleau (1912-2004), former chief reporter at Nuremberg Trials and Tokyo War Crime Trials, studied under D.T. Suzuki, then sold his court reporting business to train under Yasutani in Japan from 1953 to 1956 before returning to the USA, eventually becoming a leading American Zen teacher in his own right. For much more on his teaching work at the Rochester Zen Center in New York (, see Kapleau, Zen: Merging of East and West (Anchor Press, 1989, a revised ed. of the 1979 work entitled Zen: Dawn in the West); Awakening to Zen: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau, Polly Young-Eisendrath & Rafe Martin, Eds. (NY: Scribner, 1997); Straight to the Heart of Zen: Eleven Classic Koans and Their Inner Meanings (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2001); To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist View of Animal Slaughter and Meat Eating (Rochester, NY: Zen Center, 1981); The Wheel of Life and Death: A Practical and Spiritual Guide (Shambhala, 1998, rev. ed.; orig. publ. in 1989); and Kapleau, with Paterson Simons, The Wheel of Death: A Collection of Writings from Zen Buddhist and Other Sources of Death—Rebirth—Dying (NY: Harper & Row, 1971).


Kasulis, Thomas, Zen Action/Zen Person (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1981, 1985). Multi-faceted philosophical survey of Chán/Zen practice, views and personhood, ranging from early Chán figures (and even pre-Chan Daoist sages and Mahayana founder Nagarjuna) to Japanese figures such as Dogen and Hakuin.


Katagiri, Dainin, Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life (Boston: Shambhala, 1988); You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight, Steve Hagen, Ed. (Shambhala, 2000). Soto Zen teacher Dainin Katagiri (1928-90) helped Shunryu Suzuki (1904-71) teach at San Francisco Zen Center and then founded the Minnesota Zen Center, where he was known as a man of few words but immense silence. He also taught on invitation at various Soto temples in Japan, such as Shogoji in Kyushu. Among various reminiscence books, see Dosho Mike Port, Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri (Boston, MA: Wisdom, 2009). A less sanguine view comes from Natalie Goldberg, The Great Failure (Harper SanFrancisco, 2004), which details the sexual affairs that Katagiri had with female students, a fact that was aired to the wider community of his followers only after his death.


Kato, Etsuko, The Tea Ceremony and Women’s Empowerment in Modern Japan: Bodies Re-Presenting the Past (NY: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004). In this important revisionist work, anthropologist Kato looks carefully at women practitioners of the temae or prescribed body-movements of the chanoyu tea ceremony and what motivates them, also examining how many of these women go further, encouraged by post-WWII “sogo-bunka” discourse, to study various spiritual and historical connections with tea-service as part of a unifying “cultural synthesis” that the way of tea or chado entails. Today, women comprise 90% of all tea practitioners, compared to only 1%-1.5% in the mid-to-late Edo era, yet the major schools (by far the largest of which is the Ura-senke) are all run by male-dominated iemoto “headmaster” hierarchic systems. Kato in her work endeavors to demythologize chado’s origin-story linking it to Zen—it was, rather, wealthy merchants from Sakai and elsewhere who used the chanoyu ceremony as a way of upleveling their status by linking it to Zen and the shoguns. Nevertheless, other authors have documented at least a strong “association” with Zen.


Keane, Marc, Japanese Garden Design (Boston: Tuttle, 2007). This is likely the best overview book on the cultural and religious history, design, symbolism, poetics and spiritual aesthetic of what came to be a deeply Zen-influenced art of garden design, which especially features the karesansui or “dry mountain-water” landscape approach perfected by Muso Soseki (1275-1351) at his exquisite gardens in Kyoto, Kamakura and elsewhere. Keane is a professor of landscape design at Kyoto University who has also written The Art of Setting Stones: And Other Writings from the Japanese Garden (Stone Bridge Press, 2002), The Japanese Tea Garden (Stone Bridge, 2009), et al.. Many other books on this rich topic of Japanese gardens, “Zen meditation gardens,” and “Zen tea-house gardens” could be adduced here, such as Stephen Mansfield, Japanese Stone Gardens: Origins, Meaning, Form (Tuttle, 2009) and Japan’s Master Gardens: Lessons in Space and Environment (Tuttle, 2012); Geeta Mehta & Kimie Tada, Japanese Gardens: Tranquility, Simplicity, Harmony, photography by Noboru Murata (Tuttle, 2008); David Slawson, Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens: Design Principles, Aesthetic Values (Kodansha, 1991); Francois Berthier, Reading Zen in the Rocks: The Japanese Dry Landscape Garden, Graham Parkes, Tr. (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1985); Teiji Itoh, The Gardens of Japan (Kodansha, 1998); Penny Underwood, Designing and Creating Japanese Gardens (UK: Crowood, 2005); and Motomi Oguchi, Create Your Own Japanese Garden: A Practical Guide (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2007).


Keizan, Transmission of Light: Zen in the Art of Enlightenment by Zen Master Keizan, T. Cleary, Tr. (S.F.: North Point, 1990); The Record of Transmitting the Light: Zen Master Keizan’s Denkoroku, Francis Cook, Tr. (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2003); and Keizan Zenji, Denkoroku, Rev. Hubert Nearman, Tr. (Mt. Shasta: Shasta Abbey Press, 2001). Keizan Jokin (1268-1325), 4th Patriarch of Japanese Soto Zen, f. of Sojiji and Yokoji temples, was the most famous Soto master after Dogen; unlike Dogen, Keizan spread the Soto Zen school widely among laypersons in Japan’s rural areas (highlighting the role of lay ceremonies and offerings) while Muso Soseki was spreading Rinzai Zen and the fine arts primarily in the urban areas. This text Denkoroku by Keizan was his Japanese version of a “lamp transmission text” in the spirit of similar denglu works that had already arisen among Song-era Chinese Chán literati, in this case Keizan traces Dogen’s line all the way back to Shakyamuni and down to Ejo, a Soto Zen disciple of Dogen, giving ample commentary along the way. Keizan composed a rule-book for Zennists at his Soto communities (closely following Dogen’s rules), known as the Keizan Shingi (a.k.a., Tokoku Shingi); plus, a couple of small important texts on meditation practice, the Zazen-yojinki being the most widely read ( site has link for full English translation). He also penned a short commentary on the Xinxin Ming, a famous text apocryphally attributed to so-called “3rd Patriarch” Sengcan. Bernard Fauré brings out the more visionary, religious rite-oriented, and syncretist side of Keizan in Fauré’s typically creative approach to obscure, but important Zen subjects, in his book Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press, 2000), which examines numerous aspects of Keizan’s imaginaire or mental world; Fauré goes beyond the usual “orthodox” sources to base his fascinating account even more upon Keizan’s long neglected Record of Tokoku chronicling his foundations (an early Japanese Zen autobiography) and also the kirigami or secret initiation documents connected with Keizan.


Kennett, Jiyu, Selling Water by the River: Manual of Zen Training (NY: Vintage, 1972) and Zen Is Eternal Life (Mt. Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey, 4th ed., 2000). Good instructions on the formal practice of Japanese Soto Zen; includes teachings from Dogen and especially Keizan. The controversial British adept Kennett Roshi (1924-96) (née Peggy Theresa Nancy Kennett) was the earliest Western woman to be appointed a Soto Zen Roshi and head a little temple in Japan; in 1970 she founded Shasta Abbey outside the town of Mt. Shasta, California, and the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC), making her the first female Soto Zen abbot in the West. See Kennett Roshi’s autobiography on her extremely challenging time in Japan as a disciple of Keido Chisan Zenji (1879-1968), late abbot of Soji-ji, The Wild White Goose (Shasta Abbey, 2nd ed., 2002; orig. publ. in 2 vols., 1977); see Roar of the Tigress: The Oral Teachings of Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, Western Woman and Zen Master, 2 vols., Daizui MacPhillamy, Ed. (Shasta Abbey, 2000, 2005). See also How to Grow a Lotus Blossom: How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death (Shasta Abbey, 1977). Website: On the dark side, former students of Kennett have exposed her frequent rages, authoritarianism, and demented fantasies that she was Bodhidharma in a past life and that her successor Eko (a chronic womanizer) was Jesus. See Josh Baran’s website:


Kieschnick, John, The Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1997). Not directly about Chán, but looks at the story-telling context in which the lives of many Chán and other Buddhist monks were portrayed—specifically focusing on three types: ascetic, thaumaturge (wonder-worker), and scholar. From the book description: “While analyzing images of the monk in medieval China, the author addresses some questions encountered along the way: What are we to make of accounts in ‘eminent monk’ collections of deviant monks who violate monastic precepts? Who wrote biographies of monks and who read them? How did different segments of Chinese society contend for the image of the monk and which image prevailed?”


Kim, Hwansoo, “The Adventures of a Japanese Monk [Sōma Shōei] in Colonial Korea,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 36/1: 125-165 (Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, 2009; online at


Kim, Won-Chun, & Christopher Merrill, Tr., Because of the Rain: An Anthology of Korean Zen Poetry (Companions for the Journey) (White Pine Press, 2006). From luminaries in the Korean Seon/Seon Buddhist tradition.


King, Sallie, Passionate Journey: The Spiritual Autobiography of Satomi Myodo (1896-1978) (Boston: Shambhala, 1987). Satomi-san, after losing her family, turned to Shinto then Zen, finally realizing kensho-enlightenment under Yasutani Roshi.


Kirchner, Thomas Yuho, Entangling Vines: A Classic Collection of Zen Koans (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2013). Kirchner, studying Zen in Japan since 1969, here translates the Shūmon Kattōshū, an important Japanese Rinzai kōan collection, first printed as a book in 1689 but probably compiled well before that. It consists of 272 kōan cases, all presented without any appended comments or verses. Kirchner gives the Chinese characters for each case, and adds extensive annotations and biographical data on the many Chinese Chan masters involved and several Japanese Zen masters (in a total of eleven koan cases). Filling out this book’s 352 pages, Kirchner also cross-references the many cases here that first appeared in the classic Song-dynasty Chinese gong’an collections, Biyanlu (Blue Cliff Record), Congronglu (Book of Serenity), Wumenguan (Gateless Barrier) and other sources (Chuandenglu, Linji lu, etc.).


Kodansha, Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993). An abridged and yet in many ways even higher-quality version of Kodansha’s famous nine-volume Encyclopedia of Japan (1984), this two-volume work contains 100 in-depth feature articles written by top experts and some 12,000 entries and 4,000 color illustrations in its 1,964 pages. A number of entries are on Buddhist, Zen or Zen-related topics and persons. Many selections from this abridged book are published separately in a bilingual book of 328 pages, Keys to the Japanese Heart and Soul (Kodansha, 1999).


Korea Buddhist Order Association, Korean Buddhism (Seoul, Korea: Bulkwang Publishing, 2010). Very informative, with chapters and sub-sections on monastic life, culture, temples, etiquette, history, etc. Since Seon Buddhism is the main sect of Buddhism, one learns a lot here about Korean Seon tradition and practice.

Korean Buddhist Research Institute, Ed., Seon Thought in Korean Buddhism (Seoul: Dongguk Univ. Press, 1998, orig. publ. 1984). A collection of articles by various authors on Seon Buddhist doctrines in Korea. See also the same editing group’s earlier useful work, The History and Culture of Buddhism in Korea (Dongguk Univ. Press, 1993).


Korean National Commission for UNESCO, Ed., Korean Philosophy: Its Tradition and Modern Transformation (Elizabeth, NJ: Hollym International, 2004). Lots of material on the philosophy of Korean Seon/Zen.


Kraft, Kenneth, Ed., Zen: Tradition and Transition: A Sourcebook by Contemporary Zen Masters and Scholars (NY: Grove Press, 1988). The contributors herein (including scholars and Zen adepts) emphasize modern-era developments, primarily in Japan and the West.


Kraft, Kenneth, Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1992). Myocho Shuho (1282-1337), honored posthumously as Daito Kokushi, was of enormous erudition and prolifically wrote many capping phrases and much beautiful poetry. With the patronage from two retired emperors he established Daitokuji temple, which is down to this day a main pillar of Rinzai Zen. He was a huge influence on Zen master Hakuin (d.1769). Kraft provides brilliant scholarly context to the topics related to Daito’s life, teachings, and impact. He creates a narrative on Daito’s life/deeds, admitting that much is mere legend, like the story that he spent 20 years living with beggars under a bridge after his satori-enlightenment, when in fact he spent most of this time meditating and poring over Chinese Chan texts. Nevertheless, Kraft shows how Daito’s career combined at different times both the disengaged and engaged modes of life for a healthy spiritual balance, and he zeroes in on how Daito’s central thrust was the realization and sharing of authentic enlightenment. Furthermore, taking nothing for granted, Kraft shares fine insight about the tension in Chan/Zen tradition over just these notions of “authenticity” and “enlightenment,” citing many sources from different schools of Chinese and Japanese Zen for comparative views.


Kusan Sunim, The Way of Korean Zen, Martine Fages (Batchelor), Tr., Stephen Batchelor, Ed. & Introd. (NY: Weatherhill, rev. ed., 2009, first published in 1985). On the life & teachings of esteemed Korean Seon/Sŏn Buddhist master Gusan Seunim (Kusan; 1901-83), abbot of the famous old Songgwang-sa Monastery from 1969 onward after the passing of his master, the illustrious Hyobong (1888-1966). Stephen Batchelor provides a very insightful historical introduction to Korean Seon and the life of Kusan Sunim. See also Robert Buswell (1992), The Zen Monastic Experience, for a personal account of training with Kusan Sunim.


Gyeongheo Seong’u. Henrik Sorensen, “Mirror of Emptiness: The Life and Times of the Seon Master Kyŏnghŏ Sŏngu,” in Jin Y. Park, Ed., Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010); Jin Y. Park, “‘A Crazy Drunken Monk’: Kyongho and Modern Buddhist Meditation Practice,” in Robert Buswell, Jr., Ed., Religions of Korea in Practice (Princeton Univ. Press, 2006), pp. 130-43. These two articles feature the acclaimed reviver of Seon Buddhism for the modern era, Gyeongheo Seong’u / Kyŏnghŏ Sŏng’u (1846-1912). A profoundly realized meditation master, Gyeongheo taught meditation to the laity (a revolutionary step), made accessible the timeless works of National Master Jinul (d.1210) and his ganhwa (“contemplating the hwadu”) approach to Seon, and promoted deep enlightenment among monastics at the hallowed Sudeok-sa, Pomo-sa, Haein-sa and Songgwang-sa temples before disappearing to spend his last years from 1905 onward either as a beggar or as a simple layman teaching the classics. His several especially influential monastic disciples—Man’gong, Hanam, Suwol, Hyewol, Yeongseong—and, in turn, their many disciples, all made sure that the renewed Jogye Seon Order could prevail and flourish despite the relentless, multiple challenges that Buddhists have faced in Korea’s 20th century.


Lachs, Stuart, “Hua-t’ou: A Method of Zen Meditation,” Feb. 26, 2012, posted online at Based on the teachings of Chinese Chán sages Dahui, Xuyun, and Shengyen, Korean sage Jinul, and modern writers Charles Luk, Miriam Levering, Robert Buswell, et al., Lachs shows the importance of the huatou (Chinese) or hwadu (Korean), especially for busy householders and/or persons not living near a Rinzai Zen center and unable to participate in the standard Rinzai koan curriculum.


Lancaster, Lewis, K. Suh and C. S. Yu, Ed., Buddhism in Koryo: A Royal Religion (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of Calif. 1996 / Asian Humanities Press, 2002). The Goryeo/Koryo dynasty (935-1392 CE) was a time when Buddhism’s status and material prosperity were at their zenith in Korea, before the 500 year persecution during the subsequent neo-Confucian Joseon dynasty. The Goryeo saw the multi-lineage Seon/Sŏn Buddhism sect flourish even more than the other Buddhist sects and many famous large temple-monasteries were built such as Songgwangsa by the wise, holy Seon master, Jinul (d.1210). Another sage, Taego, helped to unify the various Korean houses of Seon Buddhism. Critics think the Goryeo saw excessive wealth accumulation by the Sangha. See also an important work on the prior period by Lancaster & Yu, Ed., Assimilation of Buddhism in Korea (Asian Humanities Press, 1991), when Seon was first introduced in a minor way to Korea during the Unifed Silla dynasty (669-935). Lancaster and Yu have also edited a very important work covering the difficult Joseon period (begun in 1392), namely, Buddhism in the Early Choson: Suppression and Transformation (Univ. of Calif., 1996 / Asian Humanities Press, 2002). This book includes Kim Yong T’ae’s 40-page essay on great Seon Master Hyujong or Seosan (d.1604), Kwon Ki-Jong’s 55-page essay on the perspectives of the Seon and Gyo (doctrinal) schools of that era; and Prof. Lancaster’s valuable introduction wherein he explains how the Goryeo era’s ruling-class support for the elite urban temples and scholar-monks now having been utterly withdrawn, Buddhism retreated to the mountains, where it became thoroughly assimilated to rural life. And it was the Seon meditation teachers who rose to spiritual leadership of the common people and of the Buddhist Sangha, with many virtually or totally anonymous monks and nuns carrying the hidden light of Seon until it could emerge more fully in the 20th century.


Lauer, Uta, A Master of His Own: The Calligraphy of the Chan Abbot Zhongfeng Mingben (1262-1323) (Verlag, 2002). Fine discussion of Chan art and the innovative calligraphy of Yuan-era Chan master Zhongfeng Mingben, which influenced later traditions, such as calligraphic art used in Japanese Zen and tea-ceremony circles.


Lawrence, Robyn Griggs, and Joe Coca, The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty (NY: Random House, 2006). On the Zen-influenced aesthetic which treasures the old, weathered, rustic, simple, “lonely” beauty, a reminder of the impermanence of all phenomena, and their great poignancy.


Lee, Young Ho (Jinwol), Ch’oui Uisun: A Liberal Son Master and an Engaged Artist in Late Choson Korea (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 2002). Profiles the Korean Seon/Sŏn adept Joui Uisun (MR: Ch’oŭi Ŭisun; 1786-1866), who integrated the Way of Tea with Seon/Zen practice and was the leading Seon Buddhist teacher in the last, least repressive phase of Korea’s weakening Joseon/Choson dynasty (1392-1897).  Author Young Ho (Jinwol) Lee is himself a Korean Seon monk.


Leggett, Trevor, Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans (London: Routledge, rev. ed., 2003, orig. publ. as The Warrior Koans: Early Zen in Japan by Routledge Arkana, 1985). Based on collections from 13th century Japan, featuring anecdotes of Zen men and women of the Kamakura “samurai Zen” culture. An important window onto one aspect of Rinzai Zen’s formative period in Japan. The revised edition of his book adds an 8-page introduction. See also Leggett’s more expansive historical study including the contemporary period, Three Ages of Zen: Samurai, Feudal and Modern (Boston/Tokyo: Tuttle, 1993). See Leggett’s two volume “Zen Reader” series: A First Zen Reader (Boston: Tuttle, 1960/1980) has excellent selections on the theory and practice of Zen—including translations of two lecture series by two famous masters of the modern era: Takashina Rosen, primate of the Soto Zen sect and president of the Japan Buddhist Assoc., and, representing the bulk of the book, Amakuki Sessan of the Rinzai sect commenting back in the 1930s on Hakuin’s “Song of Zazen.” The Tiger’s Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings (Tuttle, 1995), originally published as A Second Zen Reader (Tuttle, 1989), a good sequel to his first book, is filled with translations of short works on various neglected aspects of Zen. Trevor Leggett (1914-2000), the first foreigner to attain 6th Dan senior teaching level in Judo, taught most of the top British trainees in judo; he headed the Japanese Service of the UK’s BBC for 24 years (retiring in 1970) and was a consultant for the segment on Zen for the BBC’s television series on world religions, “The Long Search” (1978). Leggett’s other interesting books on Zen include Zen and the Ways (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978; reprint Tuttle, 1987), with translations of rare scrolls on Zen and the “ways” or arts of tea, the sword, archery, etc.; Encounters in Yoga & Zen (Routledge, 1993), reflecting not only his Zen studies but also his studies with Hari Prasad Sastri and Leggett’s finding and translation from Sanskrit a rare work of sage Sankara; Fingers & Moons: A Collection of Zen Stories and Incidents (Buddhist Publ. Group, 1988/2011); and his final work, written a year before his passing, The Old Zen Master: Inspirations for Awakening (Buddhist Publ. Group, 2009), another collection of short stories, anecdotes, and personal reflections on Zen and other spiritual traditions related to Self-awakening.


Leighton, Taigen Daniel, Tr., Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi (Boston/Tokyo: Tuttle rev. exp. ed., 2000). Hongzhi Zhengjue (Hung-chih; 1091-1157), renowned meditation master, Chán abbot of Tiantong monastery, eloquent orator and writer, and elegant poet of the Caodong school (Ts’ao Tung; J: Soto), was the first to fully defend the way and value of mozhao ming “silent illumination” style of Caodong Chán articulated by his predecessors Furong Daokai, et al. This mozhao ming primarily expressed itself as "just sitting," the core meditation of Caodong school and its Japanese expression, the Soto Zen school founded by Dogen (1200-53), which became the dominant Zen school in Japan. Among Hongzhi’s many works, he compiled a book of 100 koans with verse-comments, and another book of 100 koans with prose-comments. His disciples collected nine volumes of his material, one fully translated and one partially transl. by Leighton here.


Leighton, Taigen Daniel, Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2011). On how Zen fosters questioning and sustained investigation into the heart of various matters for the sake of genuine awakening. Leighton, an expert on Dogen and Caodong/Soto tradition (e.g., see his translation of the Eihei Koroku) draws not only on Buddhism East and West but illustrates or contextualizes his wisdom with American secular references such as the poetry of Bob Dylan and Mary Oliver, and the writings of America’s founding fathers Jefferson and Franklin, et al.


Leighton, Taigen Daniel, “Dongshan and the Teaching of Suchness” (in Heine & Wright, Eds., Zen Masters, 2010) and Just This Is It: Dongshan and the Practice of Suchness (Boston: Shambhala, 2015). On Dongshan Liangjie, the important ancestor for the Caodong Chan and Soto Zen tradition.


Levering, Miriam, “Miao-tao [Miaodao] and Her Teacher Ta-hui,” in Buddhism in the Sung, Peter Gregory & Daniel Getz Jr., Eds. (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999, pp. 188-219), and “Women Ch’an Masters: The Teacher Miao-tsung [Miaozong] as Saint,” in Arvind Sharma, Ed. Women Saints in World Religions (Albany: SUNY Press, 2000, pp.180–204). On the leading two women Chán teachers of the Song dynastic era, Miaodao (1090-1163) and her slightly younger contemporary Miaozong (1095-1170), both of them Dharma heirs of Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163) (Miaodao was his first awakened disciple). See also Levering’s articles/essays, “Lin-chi (Rinzai) Ch’an and Gender: The Rhetoric of Equality and the Rhetoric of Heroism,” in Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, Jose Ignacio Cabezon, Ed. (Albany: State Univ. of New York, 1992, pp. 137-156); and “The Dragon Girl and the Abbess of Mo-shan: Gender and the Status in the Ch’an Buddhist Tradition,” in The J. of the International Assoc. of Buddhist Studies, 5.1 (1982): 19-35. This last article is about the 9th century abbess Moshan Liaoran, who had the same sanctioning teacher (Gao’an Dayu) as Master Linji Yixuan.


Levering, Miriam, Zen Inspirations: Essential Meditations & Texts (London: Duncan Baird, 2006). Well-illustrated anthology of excerpts (many translated by Lucien Stryk) from old Chan adepts to Wumenguan’s complete gong’an cases to waka and haiku poems by Japanese Zennists.


Levine, Gregory, Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 2005). An academic investigation of one of Kyoto’s great Rinzai Zen temples (f. in 1319 by Daito Kokushi), especially focusing on themes of relevance to art historians. See also Jon Covell and Yamada Sobin’s Zen at Daitoku-ji older, far less critical work, for a more “spiritual” approach to Daitoku-ji.


Levine, Gregory, & Yukio Lippit, Eds., Awakenings: Zen Figure Paintings from Medieval Japan (NY: Japan Society, Yale University Press, 2007). Two scholars and their colleagues bring forth a trove of historical, contextual details on these treasures. Lippit’s essay for this volume, “Awakenings: The Development of the Zen Figural Pantheon,” available for reading at, is valuable for pointing out how Chan/Zen figure painting was another medium in addition to “Lamp Transmission” chronicles to perpetuate its self-promoting idea of Zen being a “special Transmission” of the Dharma. See also G. Levine’s more recent, important article, “Zen Art: Pure Gesture, Nationalist Aesthetic, or Nothing At All?” in Inken Prohl & John Nelson, Eds., Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2012), pp. 529-49. James Cahill, expert on Chinese painting, has argued in his famous lecture series (archived online) that there is in fact a distinct Chan/Zen genre of painting, something which most art experts affirm.


Linssen, Robert, Living Zen (NY: Grove Press, Amer. ed., 1988; orig. publ. in French, 1954); Zen: The Art of Life (NY: Pyramid Books, 1969). The Belgian Linssen (1911-2004) wrote early books on Zen and later books on general spirituality.


Liping, Yang, Tr., Zen Inspiration: The Truth of Zen Wisdom, illustrations by Fu Chunjiang (Singapore: Asiapac Editorial, 2006). A Chinese production with extensive illustrations including Zen cartoons depicting 150 classic gong’an/koan anecdotes and other stories, as well as a number of classic Chán poems. A creatively simple introduction to the different approaches of Chán, especially useful for its Chinese terminology when so many basic books on Zen for westerners utilize the later Japanese terms.


Loori, John Daido, Mountain Record of Zen Talks (Boston: Shambhala, 1988); The Eight Gates of Zen: A Program of Zen Training (Shambhala, 2002); The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism (Dharma Communications, 2009); Cave of Tigers: Modern Zen Encounters (NY: Weatherhill, 2000); Two Arrows Meeting in Mid-air: The Zen Koan, Bonnie Myotai Treace & Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Eds. (Boston: Tuttle, 1994); John Daido Loori, Ed., The Art of Just Sitting, Second Edition: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza (Boston: Wisdom Pub., 2004); Loori, Ed., Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings on the Practice of Zen Koan Introspection (Wisdom Pub., 2006); Bringing the Sacred to Life: The Daily Practice of Zen Ritual (Shambhala, 2008), etc. American Zen priest Loori (1931-2009), authorized by Maezumi Roshi to teach in 1986, was a prolific writer and nature photographer; in 1980 he founded Zen Mountain Monastery (in Catskills, New York) and later the Mountains & Rivers Order of Zen.


Luk, Charles (Upasaka Lu K’uan Yü), Ch’an and Zen Teaching, Series 1-3, (Berkeley, CA: Shambhala, 1960, 1971, 1973; orig. publ. by Rider in 1960-1962). Fine works including translations of many sutras and commentaries by eminent Chinese Chán masters not so well-known to many westerners, including the Ming dynasty monk Hanshan Deqing (not the 9th century poet Hanshan) and the modern era’s monumental figure within the revival of Chinese Buddhism, Master Hsü-yün (Xuyun), who instructed his disciple Luk (Lu K’uan Yu, 1898-1978) to spread Chinese Buddhism to Westerners via translation work. Also see Luk, The Secrets of Chinese Meditation (NY: Rider, 1964), pp. 43-80, for specific Chán cultivation techniques given by these and other adepts.


Luk, Charles, The Transmission of the Mind Outside the Teaching (NY: Grove Press, 1974). On six generations of Chán masters after Huineng, from the 13th century anthology Ku Tsun Su Yu Lu (Gu zunsu yulu, “Recorded Sayings by Venerable Old Masters”). Especially useful here are the sermons and sayings of Hongzhou-school Chán masters, Baizhang and Huangbo, which occupy over one-half of the book, and disclose teaching material surely more authentic than the later “encounter dialogue” material attributed to these Tang-dynasty masters by the Song-period “Lamp Transmission” texts.


Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan and Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, Eds., On Zen Practice, 3 vols. (Los Angeles, CA: Zen Center of L.A.,1976). Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice (Boston: Shambhala, 2001). Taizan Maezumi and Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, Dogen: The Way of Everyday Life (L.A.: Zen Center of L.A., 1978). Taizan Maezumi (1931-95), founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, the White Plum Asanga, Yokoji Zen Mountain Center (in San Jacinto mountains of Southern California), was an heir of both the Soto and Rinzai lineages, a huge influence on American Zen personally and through his many certified disciple-teachers (Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, Charlotte Joko Beck, Jan Chozen Bays, John Daido Loori, Charles Tenshin Fletcher, et al., a total of 12 Dharma-heirs). Maezumi Roshi ably presented various Zen teachings and practices (some koan training combined with a strong shikantaza practice), despite his well-known alcoholism and some extra-marital affairs. Glassman, involved in the production of these cited volumes, is Maezumi’s foremost disciple, co-founder with him of the White Plum Asanga in 1979.


Magid, Barry, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide (Wisdom Publ., 2008) and Ordinary Mind: Exploring the Common Ground of Zen & Psychotherapy (Wisdom, 2005). Advice from a Zen teacher and psychiatrist in New York City, a Zen student of Charlotte Joko Beck, on accepting and flowing with what is, rather than neurotically chasing after egocentric dreams.


Masunaga, Reiho, Zen for Daily Living (Tokyo: Shunjusha Pub. Co., 1964). Prof. Masunaga (1901-81) was a head priest at Eiheiji, Soto Zen’s primary training monastery, renowned for its strictness, and for many years also served as vice-president and professor at Komazawa Univ., the main Soto Zen university. See also his work listed under “Dogen.”


Matthiessen, Peter, Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals 1969-1982 (1986). A celebrated literary figure known both for his fiction and non-fiction (mainly nature and travel) works such as The Snow Leopard (1978), Matthiessen (b.1927) here shares one of his long-standing great inspirations: Zen.


McDaniel, Richard Bryan, Zen Masters of China: The First Step East (Tuttle Publ., 2012); Zen Masters of Japan: The Second Step East (Tuttle, 2013); The Third Step East: Zen Masters of America (Sumeru Press, 2015); and Cypress Trees in the Garden (Sumeru Press; 2015). In these works for a popular audience, McDaniel collects stories of Chan and Zen masters from already-published works and arranges them in a chronological format. The volume Cypress Trees (Fall, 2015) is a sequel to the third volume, which focused on the teachers who came to America and their American disciples-turned-teachers.


Merzel, Dennis Genpo, Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way (Big Mind Publishing, 2007). One of the many Dharma-heirs of Taizan Maezumi, Merzel is an American Zen teacher with strong Soto Zen leanings who finally had to leave the Soto priesthood because of his own decades of sexual transgressions with students; he had begun teaching in 1980 and in 1999 created the Big Mind training program, utilizing not just Zen but also Jungian practices of intra-psychic dialogue based on a theory of sub-selves. See also Merzel’s more traditional Zen book, The Path of the Human Being: Zen Teachings on the Bodhisattva Way (Boston: Shambhala, 2005), wherein he illumines zazen meditation and demystifies the awakening to True Nature; he also covers central Zen concepts and topics like working with a teacher and applying meditation to daily life. See Merzel’s smaller volume, The Eye that Never Sleeps: Striking to the Heart of Zen (Shambhala, 1991), his spirited commentary on the “classic” but apocryphal Chán poem Xinxin Ming (Hsin hsin ming), which scholars Yanagida Seizan and John McRae, et al., judge to be a much later work bogusly attributed by tradition back to the putative “3rd Patriarch,” Sengcan (Japanese: Sosan), who is said to have passed away in 606, which, if true, is likely at least 120 to 180 years before the Xinxin ming was composed. Merzel doesn’t really question the attribution, but does a good job of commenting on it for westerners, with lots of colorful Zen lore and personal anecdotes.


Minh Chi, Dinh, Ly Kim Hoa, Ha Thuc Minh, Ha Van Tan, Nguyen Tai Thu, The History of Buddhism in Vietnam, Nguyen Tai Thu, Ed. (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change, Series IIID, South East Asia, Vol. 5) (Washington, DC:  Council for Research in Values & Philosophy, 2009). This is an updating of a similar 1999 work by Dinh Minh Chi, et al., Buddhism in Vietnam. The book has important sections on the Thien/Zen groups, and is available for free, chapter-by-chapter, beginning at For instance, chapter 9, on the Tran dynasty, looks closely at the Truc Lam (“Bamboo Grove”) sect of Thien (Zen), considered to have been the first distinctively “Vietnamese Zen” school (after three Chinese Chán imports from earlier centuries). The Truc Lam school was founded by emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308, ruled 1279-93), the grandson of the first emperor of Da Viet (northern Vietnam), Tran Thai Tong, and son of the very devout Buddhist emperor Tran Thanh Tong (1240-90). Tran Nhan Tong retired from court in 1298 when his own son was 18, becoming a monk to practice in seclusion at a hermitage on the famous cloud-shrouded Yen Tu mountain where earlier Chán/Thien masters Hien Quang and Vien Chung resided; Tran Nhan taught Thien widely, establishing monasteries and shrines. He is nationally honored every year in Vietnam as the founder of that country’s Thien sect, and considered Vietnam’s most prominent Buddhist in its entire history. Yen Tu mountain is where the next several Truc Lam Thien teachers all taught.

Mitchell, James, Soto Zen Ancestors in China: The Recorded Teachings of Shitou Xiqian, Yaoshan Weiyan and Yunyan Tansheng (San Francisco, CA: Ithuriel’s Spear, 2005). The highlight of this little book is his focus on Shitou Xiqian (700-790), the two important poems attributed to Shitou (Cantongqi and Caoange, the former chanted daily in Soto Zen temples and in many Rinzai Zen temples too), and dialogues presented in the Jingde Chuandenglu between him and his mentor Qingyuan Xingsi (660-740), said to be the foremost student of “6th Patriarch” Huineng. Shitou, in turn, was later retrospectively famous as being one of the “Two Gates” of Chán along with Mazu for all the later “Five Houses/Families of Chán.” The Chinese Caodong Chán and Japanese Soto Zen schools trace their lineage back through Dongshan to Shitou.


Moon, Milton, The Zen Master, The Potter & The Poet (Axion Publ. 2006). The first two-thirds of this book features the author’s meditation training with Abbot Kobori Nanrei of Daitokuji’s Ryokoin sub-temple in Kyoto; Nanrei and also Kyoto-residing poet Harold Stewart (a longtime Jodo Shinshu adherent), help Moon integrate both Zen and Pure Land Buddhism.


Morinaga, Soko, The Ceasing of Notions: An Early Zen Text from the Dunhuang Caves with Selected Comments, Myokyoni (Irmgard Schloegl), Tr.; Martin Collcutt, Introd. (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2013). Roshi Morinaga comments on Myokyoni’s translation of the Jueguan lun, an interesting text probably from the Niutou/Oxhead school from the early Chán period, written circa 750 CE, and discovered in the early 20th century at Dunhuang in western China. It features a dialogue between an imagined Chán master and disciple, wherein the latter follows up the master’s pithy sayings with questions that drive the dialogue into ever-more insightful terrain about the emptiness of all positions. Nearly 40 pages of this already slim book (128 pages) are excerpts from Morinaga’s book Novice to Master (2002).


Morinaga, Sōkō, Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of my Own Stupidity, Belenda Attaway Yamakawa, Tr. (Boston: Wisdom Publ. 2002). This spare volume (143 pages), filled with candor, humor, humility, episodes of a life in the Zen world, and, finally, the gleaned wisdom of a lifetime, is the autobiographical account by Rinzai Zen teacher Soko Morinaga (1925-1995). He began practicing zazen following high school and then, after suddenly losing his parents and doing a stint as a pilot during World War II, in 1948, after losing his family’s ancestral farmlands due to land reforms, fell into despair but was saved by Zen training and ordination as a monk under Gotō Zuigan (1879-1965), former abbot of renowned Daitoku-ji and Myoshin-ji, living in retirement at the Daishu-in, a subtemple of Daitoku-ji. From 1949 onward until 1963 Morinaga trained at Daitoku-ji in Kyoto for intense years of little sleep, much zazen and koan training, then spending time at Daishu-in with Zuigan Roshi until the latter’s passing; then Morinaga received Dharma transmission from Zuigan’s successor Sesso Oda Roshi and later himself became abbot of Daishu-in. Morinaga also attended laypersons with edifying talks, books and articles, and headed Hanazono University, Rinzai Zen’s primary training university, also located in Kyoto. He had a long connection with the Buddhist Society of London and flew there every year to participate for a week or two in the summer school jointly sponsored by different Buddhist sects. His western students Shaku Daijo (ordained as a Zen monk at Daishu-in in 1979) and Ursula Jarand built Daishu-in West in Humboldt County in Northern California, which was inaugurated by Morinaga as a Zen Temple of the Myoshin-ji line in 1996. His Austrian Zen student, longtime Zennist Irmgard Schloegl, became Rev. Myokyo-ni after being ordained a nun by Morinaga, and her Zen training center in London became known as Shobo-an.

Morrell, Robert, Sand and Pebbles (Shasekishū): The Tales of Mujū Ichien for Pluralism in Kamakura Buddhism (SUNY, 1985). The strongly ecumenical Muju Dokyo or Muju Ichien (1226-1312) was a Japanese Zen monk of Rinzai lineage who wandered through Japan training under teachers of the two Zen schools and other Buddhist schools, especially cherishing Rinzai master Enni Ben’en (Shoichi Kokushi); Muju wrote the Shaseki-shū, a popular anthology featuring Buddhist stories and legends, many quite humorous, also tales of the holy and unholy, with some of these stories often quoted by certain later Zen teachers in their teachings. Muju’s accounts and Morrell’s scholarship give us a fascinating window onto how Buddhism and Zen Buddhism were actually practiced long ago in Kamakura and the vicinity. Morrell is the author of another groundbreaking work, Early Kamakura Buddhism: a Minority Report (Univ. of Calif. / Asian Humanities Press, 1987), focusing on four notable Buddhist monks: Jien (Tendai sect), Myoe (Kegon), Jokei (Hosso), and Kakukai (Shingon).


Morrell, Sachiko Kaneko, and Robert Morrell, Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes: Japan’s Tokeiji Convent Since 1285 (SUNY, 2006). History of the famed women’s monastery, founded by formidable nun Kakusan Shido in the Kamakura period. Tokei-ji still exists there on the northern edge of Kamakura, though for quite some time it has been a small temple for monks, not nuns.


Muller, A. Charles (with Ock-bae Chun), A Korean-English Dictionary of Buddhism (Seoul, Korea: Unju-sa Publ., 2014). Over 12,000 entries spread across 1800 pages, this is a fine reference work, helpfully deploying the two most recent versions of transliterating Korean (the older McCune-Reischauer or M-R system and the newer Romanization system without diacritical marks, official in Korea since 2000), along with equivalents in Japanese Romanization.


Murphy, Sean, Ed., One Bird, One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories (NY: Renaissance Books, 2002). A widely-researched collection of teachings and anecdotes of three generations of Asian and American teachers (including many less-known figures) and their students; Murphy’s book also serves as a good history of Zen in America along with Rick Fields (1992) and James Ishmael Ford (2006).


Mu Soeng, Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen—Tradition and Teachers (Cumberland, RI: Primary Point Press, rev. ed., 1991). Good overview (albeit with some mistakes concerning certain facts of history) of the Korean Seon/Sŏn tradition and its antecedents; from chapter 7 onward the book features Jinul/Chinul (d.1210), Taego (d.1382), Seosan/Sosan (d.1604), and, in the modern era, Gyeongheo/Kyongho (d.1912), Gyeongheo’s successors Man’gong (d.1946), et al., and Hyo-beong (d.1966), Kusan (d.1983), and Seung Sahn (d.2004).


Nagatomo, Shigenori, “Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy” (2010), online article for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (, though the author shows how Zen is actually a methodical “anti-philosophy” approach to experience, not merely tied to discursive reason, for the larger purpose of realizing the true nature of reality.


Nguyen, Cuong Tu, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study & Translation of Thiền Uyển Tập Anh (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / U. of Hawaii Press, 1997). This 14th-century text, “Outstanding Figures in the Vietnamese Zen Community,” has served to legitimize Vietnam’s Thien/Zen lineage and history, but Nguyen finds it is “fraught with discontinuity.” Nguyen’s is the first scholarly examination of Vietnamese Buddhism in more than sixty years and is strongly revisionist, suggesting that Thien/Zen was never a very notable part of Vietnam’s Buddhist practice, which has been dominated by a Pure Land devotional Buddhist and merit-making ritualistic approach.


Nonomura, Kaoru, Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple, Juliet Winters Carpenter, Tr. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2008). This is the English translation of the 1996 bestseller Kū Neru Suwaru: Eiheiji Shugyōki published in Japan, at first a harrowing account of the rigorously austere, heavily disciplined, painfully abusive life at renowned Eiheiji monastery, which shares with the later Soji-ji monastery the status of head training temple for Soto Zen. Eiheiji was founded by Dogen Zenji in 1244 in a thickly forested mountain valley east of Fukui town. Nonomura (b.1959) gives account of his and several fellow new trainees’ intense experiences circa 1990. Sensitive from the outset to the great demands and severity of the situation, his tale grows even more poetic and appreciative of the hardline training at Eiheiji, discussing how it forces the aspirant to discover whether one is fundamentally spirit or just a body, and whether one is entirely ready for “liberation from self-interest, from the insistent voice that says ‘I, me, my.’” Filled with details on the daily life, historical structures and natural environs of Eiheiji, and laced with pages of Dogen’s own instructions on all aspects of practice (from meditative sitting to the complicated rules for eating and excreting), this is ultimately a story of human transformation. The earlier stages are starkly terrifying as nearly everything is stripped away from the trainees and their bodyminds are subjected to literal and figurative beatings by the monastic enforcers of regulations. Beyond all the cultic discipline and punishment of first year trainees by second year trainees—a form of sanctioned, institutional abuse rather like what one would encounter in signing up for bootcamp training in the military or martial arts—the later stages of the author’s year-long sojourn resound with a realization of the omnipresent Suchness of “what is.” Nonomura has especially glowing praise for Eiheiji’s abbot at that time, Renpo Niwa (1906-93), as well as for several of the temple officers who plainly live the great peaceful joy of Zen once selfish egotism has been dropped. His anecdotes about the aged woman who visits annually, the seniors at the center who send beautifully hand-stitched washrags for the monks’ daily grueling cleaning rituals, and his final anecdote about the motherly taxi driver who shows him the meaning of spring are all deeply moving. In fact, this book is likely the most emotionally stirring book on the entire list.


Nordstrom, Louis, “Mysticism without transcendence: Reflections on liberation and emptiness,” Philosophy East and West, 31.1 (Jan. 1981): 89-95. Online at Beautifully articulates in a Zen context how living free of reification, as the Emptiness which is one with (not other than) the Suchness of ongoing experiencing, obviates the need for a “transcendent experience.” True transcendence is self-transcending and radically Absolute. And thus pure transcendence turns out to be pure immanence: Original Mind is also ordinary everyday mind when the latter is meditatively free of alienation, grasping and needless conceptualizing.


O’Halloran, Maura, Pure Heart: Enlightened Mind: The Zen Journal and Letters of Maura Soshin O’Halloran (Boston: Tuttle, 1994). From 1979 to 1982, O’Halloran studied Zen at a small monastery in northern Japan, earning her Roshi’s dharma transmission, but dying six months later at age 27 in a bus accident in Thailand en route to her native Ireland to start a Zen center. This is an intimate tale of Zen by a foreigner who really got inside the Zen mind and way of life. (This book was re-released in 2007 with a different subtitle, The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint, by Wisdom Publ. in Boston.)


Okumura, Shohaku, Ed. & Tr., Shikantaza: An Introduction to Zazen (Kyoto: Soto Zen Center, 1985). Contains a crucial essay, “Jijuyu-zanmai” (“Samadhi of the Self”), by enlightened Soto reformer Menzan Zuiho Zenji (1683-1768). See also Shohaku Okumura, Soto Zen: An Introduction to Zazen (Tokyo: Soto Shu Shumucho, 2002); Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts (Boston: Wisdom, 2012). Okumura is a contemporary Japanese priest and one of the leaders of the Soto Zen movement in the USA, now with a Zen center in Bloomington, IN.


Olson, Carl, Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representational Mode of Thinking (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2000).


P’ang-yun, A Man of Zen: The Recorded Sayings of Layman P’ang: A Ninth-Century Zen Classic, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Yoshitaka Iriya, & Dana Fraser, Tr. (NY: Weatherhill, 1971, 1992). Anecdotes and verses from the later years of the famous Chinese Chán householder sage and poet “Layman Pang” (c740-808), who was a student of both Shitou and Mazu, and whose deeply enlightened daughter Lingzhao joined him in years of renunciate wandering. The record of verses and sayings by Layman Pang has greater authenticity than many of the purported “Chan master records” genre of the Tang era, because it was compiled shortly after his passing by his friend, the Prefect Yudi (Yü Ti), whereas many other yulu records weren’t composed until a few centuries later after considerable editing. This volume benefits greatly from the ace team of East-West scholars assembled by Ruth Fuller Sasaki in the 1950s-60s in Japan.


Park, Jin Y., Ed., Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010). Excellent articles by a team of scholars on the major spiritual leaders of Korea in the modern turbulent era, including some very impressive, deeply enlightened figures, most of them hardly known to the vast majority of Zen practitioners in the West, including Gyeongheo/Kyongho Songu (by Henrik Sorensen), Man’gong (by Mu Soeng), Hanam Jungwon/Chungwon (by Patrick Uhlmann), Seongcheol (by Woncheol Yun), nun Daehaeng (by American monk Chong Go) and the earlier feminist-turned-nun Kim Iryeop/Ilyeop (by Jin Y. Park).


Park, Sung Bae, Buddhist Faith and Sudden Enlightenment (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1983). An important work by a Korean Seon monk on the neglected topic of faith. Drawing on sources in both Mahayana Buddhism and Chán/Seon/Zen, Park documents that a supreme, non-backsliding faith in intrinsic Buddha Nature is the sina qua non for awakening to this Buddha Nature, and that the Grace (Korean: kap’i) of the Buddha Nature is what allows this faith or certitude to arise. He introduces the distinction made by eminent Korean Seon master Jinul/Chinul (1158-1210) between dualistic “doctrinal faith” (C: chiao-hsin; K: gyeoshin), which mentally believes “I can become Buddha,” and nondual “patriarchal faith” (C: tsu-hsin, K: joshin), which intuitively affirms as an inward illumination, “I am already Buddha,” and which is the alpha and omega of nondual spiritual practice/cultivation.


Parker, Joseph, Zen Buddhist Landscape Arts of Early Muromachi Japan (1337-1573) (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999). On the tradition of the amazingly beautiful, world-famous Zen gardens of Japan and how this art-form began and flourished.


Pollack, David, “Kokan Shiren and Muso Soseki: ‘Chineseness’ vs. ‘Japaneseness’ in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Japan,” J. of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 7.2 (1984): 143-68. Good article on two Rinzai Japanese Zen masters who brought their own temperament to the teaching and spreading of Zen. Kokan Shiren (1278-1346) was a student of Enni Ben’en and succeeded him as abbot of Tofuku-ji, a historian of and literary critic of both Chinese and Japanese traditions (Buddhist and non-Buddhist); Muso Soseki (1275-1351) was much more “Japanese” in his sensibilities and brought this to bear in his several “Zen arts” that he promoted (poetry, garden design, calligraphy, etc.) along with zazen.


Porter, Bill, Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China (Upland, CA: Counterpoint, 2009). Fascinating, informative travelogue exploring Chan’s past, present and near-future in China, land of its birth. Porter discusses the fabled first six Patriarchs and the ancient and modern history of temples linked to these Chán ancestors, and shares interviews with modern Chán masters connected with these and other sites, like the huge Tajinshan nunnery in Jiangxi province headed by the amazing old Abbess Yin-k’ung (Yinkong). This is a fine overview, too, of the general state of Buddhism after China’s new openness to religion since the 1980s. Porter is fluent in Mandarin and enjoys great interpersonal connections, and so is able to bring extra insight to the world of China’s Buddhism and Chán that he has been exploring on the ground there since 1989 and especially during the 2006 trip which forms the basis of this book. The book’s one glaring flaw is that he readily passes along too many of the traditional myths about Bodhidharma at Shaolin, Sengcan as “3rd Patriarch,” Huineng as “6th Patriarch,” etc., which have been debunked by scholars Yanagida Seizan, John McRae and others since at least the 1980s. See also Bill Porter (Red Pine), Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits (San Francisco: Mercury House, 1993), which details meetings and interviews from the early 1990s with Buddhist and Daoist hermits, male and female, living in the remote mountains of central China who endured or else escaped persecution by the Communist Red Guards; Porter also provides glimmers of how religion and spirituality were awakening in China in the late 1980s / early 1990s, so this book contains interesting data for comparing with his more recent findings reported in Zen Baggage.


Prohl, Inken, & John Nelson, Eds., Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2012). Most of the chapters in this 630-page tome (plus index) are not directly related to Zen, but often contain information certainly relevant to the milieu in which the Japanese Zen and other Buddhist schools are functioning. The chapters most relevant to Zen are Gregory Levine’s chapter on Zen Art and Jørn Borup’s chapter, “Contemporary Buddhist Priests And Clergy” (based largely on his 2008 book-length study of the Myoshinji Rinzai Zen branch), but the many other chapters make for fascinating reading on religious/spiritual trends in Japan.


Red Pine (Bill Porter), Tr., The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a Fourteenth-Century Chinese Hermit (San Francisco: Mercury House, 1999). The Chán master Shiwu Jinghong (Shih-wu Ching-hung, 1271-1352), “Stonehouse,” named after the cave-hut in which he lived, is considered “the greatest of all Zen monks who made poetry their medium of instruction.” He had been a monk named Jinghong, well educated in Buddhism under two teachers—Gaofeng and Ji-an—in the mountains of eastern China, whom he served for many years until Ji-an confirmed his enlightenment. At that point, age 40, rather than accept an abbotship appointment himself, Shiwu retired to a small cave-hut on a ridge amidst a forest of bamboo, pines and other foliage, a day’s walk away from Ji-an’s monastery. Here he eventually composed his 185 “Mountain Poems” (Shanshi), which reveal extensive details of a hermit’s rugged yet rich daily life. In 1330, in his late 50s, he finally accepted an abbot’s position, which he carried out for 7 years before retiring again to his hut. His most famous disciple was the Korean Seon master Taego Bou (1301-82), who came to visit Shiwu and receive confirmation and dharma successorship before going back to Korea and uniting the various Seon schools into the single Jogye/Chogye Order.


Reps, Paul, and Nyogen Senzaki, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957). A great little collection of stories, anecdotes and koans from the traditional Chinese and Japanese sources. An influence on the Beat generation Zennists of the West.


Ross, Nancy Wilson, The World of Zen: An East-West Anthology (NY: Vintage, 1960). Excellent selections from many Japanese and western authors on diverse aspects of Zen Buddhism, including the arts.


Rowe, Mark, ‘‘Where the Action Is: Sites of Contemporary Soto Buddhism,’’ Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 31 (2) (2004): 357–388. On the “tension between doctrinal norms [about the supposed “no self” teaching of Buddhism] and mortuary realities,” i.e., Zen’s involvement in “funerary Buddhism” over the centuries to care for departed souls with posthumous rituals, such as ordaining them. Rowe sheds light on the present-day institutions of Soto Zen in Japan. Note that this entire issue could be resolved by realizing that the Buddha’s “anatta” teaching was not a nihilist ontology of literally no self, no soul, no person whatsoever, but a “not-self dis-identification strategy” of detaching from the skandhas (personality aggregates) and that some of those aggregates obviously continue after physical death, as the Buddha himself taught. In short, our ancestors don’t just go to oblivion, i.e., disappear altogether from the larger cosmos including the subtle planes.


Rutschman-Byler, Jiryu Mark, Two Shores of Zen: An American Monk’s Japan (, 2010). An idealistic young Soto Zen priest shares his contrasts of Zen life at California’s Tassajara Zen monastery with a much more rigorous Japanese monastery (which he imaginatively names “Genpo-ji”); he finds that, while the Japanese situation is clearly abusive and flawed in different ways, the American Zen Buddhist scene (not just at Tassajara) seems to have really missed the mark in significant ways.


Rynick, David, This Truth Never Fails: A Zen Memoir in Four Seasons (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publ., 2012). Rynick, a Zen teacher authorized in a Korean Seon line and a Japanese Soto one, is a founding teacher of Boundless Way Zen, an expanding national network of reformist Zen groups in the USA. In this gentle, witty and sensitive book, he shares his findings, challenges, doubts and joys as a year of his life unfolds.


Ryokan, Great Fool: Zen Master Ryokan: Poems, Letters, and Other Writings, Ryuichi Abe & Peter Haskel, Tr. (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1996). The most complete book on the many aspects of Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831), who, after his teacher Kokusen of Entsuji died, left monastic Soto Zen life to humbly and with great austerity live for decades mainly as a hermit and nature mystic; when not in seclusion he was a great friend of little children and benefactor to the poor; his poems and calligraphy are famous; he wrote haiku poems to a nun who cared for him in his ailing last five years of life. For books looking chiefly at his poetry, see Burton Watson, Tr., Ryokan—Poet of Japan (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1977); Nobuyuki Yuasa, Tr. The Zen Poems of Ryokan (Princeton Univ. Press, 1981); John Stevens, Tr., One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan (Weatherhill, 1978); J. Stevens, Tr., Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan (Shambhala, 1996); Sanford Goldstein, Shigeo Mizoguchi and Fujisato Kitajima, Tr., Ryokan: Selected Tanka & Haiku (Kokodo, 2000); Goldstein & Kitajima, Tr., Ryokan’s Calligraphy (Kokodo, 1997).


Sasaki, Ruth Fuller and Isshu Miura, Zen Dust: The History of the Koan and Koan Study in Rinzai (Lin-chi) Zen (NY: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966). This book makes available some of the fine research done by Fuller Sasaki’s team of expert Japanese and western researchers. See also Fuller-Sasaki’s Rinzai Zen Study for Foreigners in Japan (Kyoto: The First Zen Institute of America in Japan, 1960). On the remarkable Ruth Fuller Everett Sasaki (1892-1967) herself, see Isabel Stirling, Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki (Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2006), which includes three of Fuller’s essays on Zen and Zen practice. Ruth, a Chicago family woman of high social status, trained herself to become expert in many endeavors including literacy in Chinese and Japanese, and studied Zen from 1930 onward, becoming lifelong friends with D.T. Suzuki and wife Beatrice Lane Suzuki of Kyoto, and training deeply in zendos like Senko-an, the private temple of Nanzen-ji abbot Kōno Mukai (Nanshinken, 1864-1935) from 1932 on. Before and after her husband died in 1940, in New York from 1938-1945 she trained seriously under Rinzai Zen teacher Sōkei-an (Sasaki Shigetsu Roshi, 1882-1945), whom she also married a year before his death after helping with his rehabilitation (needed after two years in an internment camp in the eastern USA). Ruth led the First Zen Institute of America (reorganized out of the old Buddhist Society of America), and in 1950 established a Japanese branch at Ryosen-an on the Daitoku-ji grounds in Kyoto, where she began to reside until her passing in 1967, restoring Ryosen-an into a fully functioning meditation temple over the next several years, along with welcoming and mentoring western students of Zen, writing, and assembling her first-rate team of Zen scholars. Gotō Zuigan (1879-1965), abbot of Daitoku-ji and his successor Oda Sessō (1901-66), were her chief Zen teachers during these years. In 1958, Daitoku-ji formally ordained Ruth as a priest, the first westerner to attain this. She was given the name Jōkei and appointed abbess to the restored Ryosen-an.


Sasaki, Ruth Fuller, and Thomas Yuho Kirchner, The Record of Linji (Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute / Univ of Hawaii, 2008; bilingual edition, 2008). In a 485-page much expanded version of an abbreviated 1975 work on the Linji-lu compilation of sermons, sayings, and doings of seminal Chán figure Linji Yixuan (Lin-chi I-hsuan, d.866), a work cut short by the death of Ruth Fuller Sasaki (1892-1967), Kirchner, a student of Zen in Japan since 1969, adds massive, invaluable material to the 50-page translation of the Linji Record. This includes his own scholarly editing and notes along with finally bringing to light the notebooks of immense work done by Mrs. Sasaki’s East-West team of scholars in the 1950s-60s—Yanagida Seizan, Iriya Yoshitaka, Ruth herself, Philip Yampolsky, Burton Watson, and others—after her husband, Sasaki Shigetsu (1882-1945), a pioneer Zen teacher in the U.S., began the project. Those notebooks full of scholarly material, including a veritable handbook on classical and colloquial Chinese grammar and valuable annotated bibliography, were tucked away in the Ryosen-an temple library in Japan. Kirchner admits that some (certainly not all) of Yanagida’s lengthy (57-page) Historical Introduction and the 230-page Commentary and Notes section of this text are now dated, given the advances in scholarship of the past several decades, but the extensive work done by Fuller and her team still deserves to be seen as an important historical development itself in Zen scholarship. For earlier translations of the Linji Record—now superseded by the Kirchner-Sasaki version—see Burton Watson, Tr., The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi: A Translation of the Lin-chi lu (Boston: Shambhala, 1993), and Irmgard Schloegl, Tr., The Zen Teaching of Rinzai (Lin-chi I-hsuan) (Berkeley,CA: Shambhala, 1976). A more recent translation of the Linji-lu, inserting material from ten later Japanese commentaries on the text, is by Jeffrey Broughton, The Record of Linji: A New Translation of the Linjilu in the Light of Ten Japanese Zen Commentaries (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012). See also the crucial revisionist work of Albert Welter which has shown us how this Linji-lu came to be pieced together with certain elements fabricated by the Linji Chán faction during the Song dynasty.


Sato, Koji, The Zen Life, Sosei Kuzunishi, Photography (NY/Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1972). Great photos and explanatory captions on all aspects of life in a Zen monastery, here the Enpukuji Rinzai Zen temple in Yawata, just south of Kyoto. An accompanying essay by Sato reports on the modern state of Zen in its various facets, from zazen to food to marriage.


Sato, Giei, and Eshin Nishimura, Unsui: A Diary of Zen Monastic Life (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii, 1973). A dying Zen monk in his 40s, Rev. Giei Sato (1921-67), made 97 watercolor sketches of daily life in the Tofuku-ji monastery, recollecting his days as an unsui or apprentice monk entering the monastery, the rainy season and the snowy season, the daily chores, the celebrations, the cleaning days, and days of begging. Each charming drawing has a brief accompanying description from Nishimura (a former monk) of the event portrayed, with additional elements of Zen teaching.


Schireson, Grace, Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens and Macho Masters (Boston: Wisdom, 2009). Much-needed and fascinating “herstory” usually ignored in the Zen “histories,” such as how great Chán teacher Dahui made the nun Miaodao his first Dharma heir.


Schloegl, Irmgard, The Wisdom of the Zen Masters (NY: New Directions, 1975). Great stories, many never translated into any Western languages. See also Schloegl’s other works: her translation of The Record of Rinzai (1976), also The Zen Way (1977), Introducing Buddhism (1978), Gentling the Bull: The Ten Bull Pictures, a Spiritual Journey (1980); and Living Buddhism (2000). Rev. Myokyo-ni, neé Irmgard Schloegl (1921-2007), longtime Zen scholar-teacher and a Rinzai Zen nun her last 23 years, was born and raised in Austria, and affiliated closely with Christmas Humphrey’s Buddhist Society in London since 1950 and for a time in Japan with Ruth Sasaki Fuller’s topnotch academic circle of Japanese and western scholars. In 1960 she had begun what became a 12-year training at Daitoku-ji monastery in Kyoto, first under Oda Sesso Rōshi and then, after his death, under his successor Sojun Kannun. In 1966, she returned to England for nine months, during which time she started a small Zen Group at the Buddhist Society which continued until she returned permanently in 1972, and turned into the full-fledged London Zen Center in 1979. Schloegl later became the Rev. Myokyo-ni after being ordained a nun in 1984 by Rinzai Zen teacher Soko Morinaga (1925-1995). Humphreys’ residence, in which she had been living, was inaugurated as Shobo-an, now the main administrative location and training temple of the Zen Center.


Seaton, Jerome P., and Dennis Maloney, Eds., A Drifting Boat: Chinese Zen Poetry (Fredonia, NY: White Pine Press, 1995). A gathering of numerous Chinese Chán (and some pre-Chan) Buddhist poets from a nearly 1500 year span, divided into six sections, covering poets of different dynastic eras. Seaton and Maloney bring together translations by Seaton and other translators such as Sam Hamill, Paul Hansen, James Sanford, et al.. As one reader rightly notes, the poets often have a strongly Daoist bent; moreover, “the book as a whole is a marvelous example of the force of poetry that is rooted in experience rather than metaphor.


Sekida, Katsuki, Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy, (Boston: Shambhala, 2005; orig. publ. in 1975 by Weatherhill). Sekida (1893–1987) was a lay Zennist with 60 years of zazen experience and several years of teaching Zen in Hawaii and London when he wrote this work which goes deeply into the Zen life; in this serious, no-frills book, he looks at zazen practice not just within a traditional interpretive model but also from a western science viewpoint with respect to the most efficacious breathing method, different postures, etc.


Sekida, Katsuki, Tr., Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan and Hekiganroku, A.V. Grimstone, Ed. (NY & Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1977). A translation of two famous Chinese Chán compendia, the Biyan lu (J: Hekiganroku) or Blue Cliff Record and the Wumen guan (J: Mumonkan) or Gateless Barrier, each filled with anecdotal encounters and intuitive utterances between adepts and each other and/or their disciples, with commentaries by later masters Yuanwu and Wumen, respectively. Of these two, the Biyan lu was famous in both Song-dynasty China and in Japan, whereas the Wumenguan was mainly known only in Japan. Several other translations have been made of the Mumonkan; and see the translation by T. & J.C. Cleary of the Blue Cliff Record, which, like Sekida’s translation here, also was published in 1977.


Sen Soshitsu XV, The Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu, V. Dixon Morris, Tr. (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1998); Sen Soshitsu XV, Tea Life, Tea Mind (Weatherhill, 1979); and Sen Soshitsu XV, Ed., Chanoyu: The Urasenke Tradition of Tea, Alfred Birnbaum, Tr. (Weatherhill, 1989). Three works available in English from Hounsai, Sen Shoshitsu XV (b.1923), recent grandmaster of the Urasenke school, Japan’s biggest school of chado or sado, the way of  tea, influenced strongly by the Zen aesthetic. The Urasenke school, like the other, much smaller but historically important chado schools, is lineally descended from 16th-century tea master Sen no Rikyu (d.1591). Sen Soshitsu XV, who was the leading East-War emissary of tea-culture in the entire post WWII era, changed his name to Sen Genshitsu in 2002 when he was succeeded by his eldest son, Zabosai, Sen Shoshitsu XVI (b.1956), who, notably, underwent a considerable amount of Zen training as a young man before inheriting the iemoto grandmaster function. On Hounsai, Sen Soshitsu XV, see Herbert Plutschow, The Grand Tea Master: A Biography of Hounsai Soshitsu Sen XV (Trumbull, CT: Weatherhill, 2001).

      On the metaphysical, aesthetic and political implications of Sen no Rikyu’s and other early tea masters’ chado, see H. Plutschow, Rediscovering Rikyu and the Beginnings of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Folkestone, Kent, UK: Global Oriental, 2003). For further academic works on the history, politics, anthropology and aesthetics of the tea ceremony, see the earlier cited Etsuko Kato, The Tea Ceremony and Women’s Empowerment in Modern Japan (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), exploring the implications of chado shifting from being a virtually all-male activity in the Edo period to 90% women today, a trend that strongly emerged in the post-WWII decades. Tim Cross, The Ideologies of Japanese Tea: Subjectivity, Transience and National Identity (Global Oriental, 2009), argues for the empowerment of tea practitioners to take tea-life beyond the paralyzing constraints of iemoto orthodoxy and deconstructs the central tea-figure Rikyu; among other things, Cross also provides a disturbing view of how the trope of transience in chado culture and Rikyu’s forced suicide became instruments of ultra-nationalist state power in the 1930s-40s in shaping the identities of common soldiers and citizens during the war years. See also Jennifer Anderson’s sympathetic anthropological and first-person tea-instructor approach to chado within the Urasenke system, An Introduction to Japanese Tea Ritual (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1991), on chado’s history and the iemoto seido or headmaster system (her book has come in for some criticism, such as when Tim Cross in chapter 7 of his own book contradicts her view that the iemoto-run Urasenke tradition of chado is not a cult). Numerous scholarly essays (including by Cross and Graham) are to be found in Morgan Pitelka, Ed., Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), as well as in Paul Varley & Kumakura Isao, Eds., Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu (Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1989/1995), based on a pioneering 1982 international academic conference on chado. Patricia Graham, Tea of the Sages: The Art of Sencha (Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1998), is about sencha or steeped tea in the Far East, a later development promoted by Chinese-Japanese Obaku Zen monks. For far more lyrical, poetic and inspirational approaches to the subject, see Dennis Hirota, Ed., Wind in the Pines: Classic Writings of the Way of Tea as a Buddhist Path (Fremont, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1995) and Aaron Fisher, The Way of Tea: Reflections on a Life with Tea (Tokyo/Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 2010). A book considered the technical “bible” for chanoyu practitioners is Sasaki Sanmi’s Sado-saijiki (1960), translated in nearly 800 pages by Shaun McCabe and Iwasaki Satoko, Chado, the Way of Tea: A Japanese Tea Master’s Almanac (Tuttle, 2001), informing which flowers, foods, pottery and poetry are appropriate for each month and season, but one must already know how to perform the temae for a chanoyu tea ceremony. See also two engaging if quite dated books, one by acclaimed art critic Kakuzo Okakura from over a century ago, The Book of Tea: The Classic Work on the Japanese Tea Ceremony and the Value of Beauty (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2006; orig. publ. in 1906, later translated into Japanese in 1929), available online; and A.L. Sadler’s Cha-no-yu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony (1933, with reprints, e.g., Tuttle, 1970, 1998). Several of the aforementioned books provide extensive descriptions of tea ceremonies.


Senzaki, Nyogen, Like a Dream, Like a Fantasy: The Zen Writings and Translations of Nyogen Senzaki, Eido Shimano, Ed. & Introd. (Tokyo: Japan Publ., 1978). Eloquent Silence: Nyogen Senzaki’s Gateless Gate and Other Previously Unpublished Teachings and Letters, Roko Sherry Chayat, Ed. (Wisdom Publ., 2008). Senzaki (1876-1958) was a student of Shaku Soen (Soyen Shaku) in Japan from 1896 to 1901 and joined Soen for the latter’s second trip to the USA in 1905-6. Nyogen stayed in California for 53 years, commencing his teaching of Zen in 1922 in San Francisco, then in Los Angeles from 1931 onward, interrupted only by a visit to Japan in 1955 and three years in an internment camp in Wyoming during the Second World War. Nyogen was a major figure for western Zennists, training them vigorously in zazen, kōans, and other elements of the tradition without getting bogged down in institutionalism or trying to establish any kind of priestly hierarchy.


Seo, Audrey Yoshiko, Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment (Boston: Weatherhill, 2009). Featuring calligraphic expressions of the enso, symbolic of Zen enlightenment, along with biographies of their artists, many of them known Zen teachers. Audrey Yoshiko Seo with Stephen Addiss, The Art of Twentieth-Century Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese (Boston: Shambhala, 1998). Well-illustrated, looks at the lives and calligraphy of 14 Japanese Zen adepts of our time.


Seung Sahn, Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn, Stephen Mitchell, Ed. (NY: Grove Press, 1976). Filled with inspiring stories of some great Zen teachers of China and Korea, including a detailed biography of the charismatic Korean Seon master Seung Sahn (1927-2004). The book contains, among other things, counsels from Seung Sahn “Soen Sa Nim” to “just go straightforward with ‘don’t-know’ mind,” the different levels of Zen realization including his very useful “360-degree full-circle Zen” schema, and invaluable transcripts of his exchanges with western students in the usual style of koan-laced Zen teaching. Soen Sa Nim attained breakthrough enlightenment on an austere 100-day mountain retreat in 1948 and, within a year, Dharma transmission from Master Gobong (Ko-bong). After three years of silence, and a five-year stint in the army, he took over for Gobong as abbot of Hwagye-sa temple outside Seoul in 1957. Drawn to be a missionary, he set up small Zen centers in Tokyo and Hong Kong in the 1960s, then came to the USA in 1972. He fixed washing machines while learning English, then with new friends started a Zen Center in Providence, Rhode Island, followed by a few dozen more Seon centers in North America, western and eastern Europe, Israel, and, back in his homeland, an International Zen Center network based at the 460-year-old Hwagye-sa temple just northeast of Seoul. With appointed teachers and their appointed teachers swelling the movement, over 100 centers now exist in almost 30 countries following Seung Sahn’s teaching-style in his globalized Kwan Um School of Zen (, officially founded in 1983. He was criticized for too-rapidly growing the numbers of centers without sufficient in-depth training for all their heads. Another criticism, this one from Korean Seon Buddhists, is that Seung Sahn abandoned their traditional, simple-but-deep focus on a single hwadu (C: huatou) “critical question” for years or decades and instead substituted for it the Japanese Rinzai Zen method of working through an intensive series of gong’ans (J: koans) which must be passed by frequently interacting with the teacher in one-on-one sessions. Last but not least, revelations of his consensual sexual affairs with several women students shook his community in the late 1980s, since his public identity was that of a celibate monk and the rule-book for his centers clearly warns against lust and sexual misconduct (and other misdeeds). He underwent a process of formal, ritual apology before some of his senior Dharma-heirs. Nevertheless, his work to spread the spirit of Seon Buddhism outside Korea has been justifiably lauded as finally putting Seon on the radar of western Zennists after decades of prior neglect of Korean Seon, and so the Jogye Seon Order in 2004 honored him with the title Dae Soen Sa Nim (Great Zen Teacher). His last decades saw him in frequent poor physical health. See several other books of his penetrating talks and delightful letters, Only Don’t Know: The Teaching Letters of Zen Master Seung Sahn (San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1982), Bones of Space (Providence Zen Center, 1982), and Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn (Boston: Shambhala, 2006). The book The Whole World Is a Single Flower: 365 Kong-ans for Everyday Life (Boston: Tuttle, 1992), compiled by Seung Sahn with his brief comments and questions, is his collection of poems by and gong’ans involving numerous modern-era Korean Seon masters such as Man’gong, Gobong, Hanam, et al., as well as traditional Chán figures, plus verses from the Dao De Jing and some Christian verses by Angelus Silesius.


Shahar, Meir, The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / U. of Hawaii, 2008). Fine historical work clarifying the origins and history of Shaolin “Zen” (e.g., no relation to Bodhidharma), and, among other things, giving an update on the status of the Shaolin-si (Shaolin Temple) since it was rebuilt after the Communist undermining and then suppression of religion from the 1950s to late 1970s.


Shainberg, Lawrence, Ambivalent Zen: One Man’s Adventures on the Dharma Path (NY: Pantheon, 1995). American Zennist Shainberg humorously recounts disillusioning experience with various Zen teachers in the West and in Japan, finally, more illuminatingly, he learns from Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi (1927-2007). Kyudo was in his youth a disciple of Rinzai Zen teacher Soen Nakagawa of Ryutakuji in Japan, then headed Zen centers in Jerusalem (1968-81) and New York City (1980s); Kyudo succeeded as abbot of Ryutakuji after the death in 1990 of Sochu Suzuki (another disciple of Soen Nakagawa). See for talks and interviews by Kyudo Roshi.


Shaku, Soyen, Zen for Americans, D.T. Suzuki, Tr. (LaSalle, IL: Open Court reprint, 1974). Rinzai teacher Soyen or Soen Shaku (1860-1919) first introduced Zen teachings to the West, at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 and on a 1905 return trip, starting in San Francisco and heading to eastern USA. His political views have been seriously critiqued by Daizen Brian Victoria in the latter’s work exposing the ultra-nationalist, pro-militarist views of numerous Zen leaders and other religious leaders of Japan in the first half of the 20th century.


The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael S. Diener, & Franz-Karl Ehrhard, Stephan Schumacher & Gert Woerner, Eds. (Boston: Shambhala, 1991, paperback ed., 2010). At 280 pages long, with over 1,500 entries and 46 illustrations, this is a good reference work although many historical entries are now obsolete given revisionist scholarship on Chán/Zen over the past 25 years since the release of its parent volume (see below). Diener covers the Zen entries, Erhard covers the Tibetan Buddhist entries, and Fischer-Schreiber the general Buddhist entries. The book is lifted word-for-word from these scholars’ Buddhist and Zen entries in the slightly older parent volume, The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism, Stephan Schumacher & Gert Woerner, Eds. (Shambhala, 1986, paper ed. 1994), with the addition of only about a dozen extra entries, mostly very minor. Given the importance of contemplative Daoism in the rise of Chán Buddhism, and the relevance of old Vedanta and Yoga Hindu traditions in India for Buddhism’s emergence in that land, it is well worth finding a copy of this latter volume, with its more than 4,000 entries and over 100 illustrations. One useful item the newer Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen adds is a 3-page table for converting the newer Pinyin transliteration system to the older Wade-Giles notation system, which is the system still used throughout this dictionary (as also found in the larger parent volume), but such conversion tables are also available on the Internet.


Sharf, Robert, Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii, 2002). A meticulous translation, critical analysis and lengthy contextualization of the Baozang lun or “Treasure Store Treatise,” a short work in three chapters laced with Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian thought; it was traditionally attributed to the early Chinese Buddhist sage Sengzhao (374-414) but realistically (according to scholar Kamata Shigeo) is a product of the late 8th century by a Niutou/Oxhead-school Chán community at Mao-shan in southeast China, suggests Sharf, who reports that it was “held in considerable esteem” by Chán masters of the Tang and Song dynasty, including Zongmi, Zhaozhou¸Yunmen, Yongming Yanshou, Dahui, et al. Sharf writes: “The terminology and literary style of the Treasure Store Treatise have much in common with texts associated with early Ch’an, particularly the Niut’ou, or ‘Ox Head,’ tradition [e.g., the Jueguan lun; the Niutou group circa 780 CE also gave us the Platform Sutra and the Xinxin ming and Xin ming]. The Treasure Store Treatise also shares much in the way of vocabulary and rhetorical style with the Taoist exegetical tradition known as ch’ung-hsüan [chongxuan], or ‘Twofold Mystery.’ …The Treasure Store Treatise is suffused with Ch’an and Hua-yen terminology…. [The attribution of the work to Sengzhao] would have enabled Ch’an and Hua-yen exegetes to legitimize their doctrinal innovations by finding clear antecedents in the work of Kumārajīva’s great disciple.” “The treatise is considered the locus classicus for the dialectical opposition of the terms li and wei (“transcendence” and “subtlety”)—a dichotomy featured in a variety of later Ch’an materials.” Sharf offers a wealth of information on the Chinese intermingling of different factions that have heretofore been mistakenly thought by scholars to be more distinct as separate religions and religious “schools” than they actually were. The Baozang lun is a product of this easy intermingling that was actually occurring in China during these eras and beyond.


Sharf, Robert, “Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience,Numen, 42.3 (Oct. 1995): 228-283. An important critical paper by Sharf, with many sections dealing with Zen, clarifying that most Buddhist practitioners over the centuries have actually put very little emphasis on actual meditative experience and the reporting of such experience. Instead, most Buddhists have been far more concerned with doctrine, ritual, piety and religious performance. It is a fairly easy argument to make but, as far as Chan/Zen traditions go, Sharf, while acknowledging that some great masters of various Buddhist traditions have been dedicated meditators, ignores the extensive meditative experience on the part of towering figures like the leaders of the 12th-century Caodong revival (Furong Daokai, Hongzhi, et al.), as well as Hanshan Deqing, Dogen Zenji and the Eiheiji Soto community, Bassui, Bankei, Hakuin and their communities, et alia. It should also be noted that, strictly speaking, these sages were not so interested in “experiences” per se but in intuitively awakening to the Open, Lucid Awareness that is the very source or capacity for all experiences, whether these be experiences of sitting zazen, walking, eating, working, etc. Sharf and some other critical writers on Buddhism (like, more recently, Alan Cole), evince great suspicion toward this kind of intuitive “gnosis,” but they should straightaway explore the very accessible “Experiments in the Science of the 1st Person” by quasi-Zen writer Douglas Harding (q.v.) to discover that a simple, pristine intuition of the Open Awareness underlying all sensory-perceptual experiences is not so obscure or outlandish as they might suppose.


Sharf, Robert, “Mindfulness and mindlessness in early Chan,” in Philosophy East & West, 64:4 (Oct. 2014), pp. 933-64


Sheng Yen, Footprints in the Snow (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 2008). The “autobiography” of Sheng-yen (Shengyan, 1930–2009), a respected Chán adept, fine teacher and Buddhist scholar-monk. Actually, the book was written by its editor, Kenneth Wapner, on the basis of two Chinese-language autobiographies and a biography (all translated by Bill Porter) and interviews of Sheng-yen by his bilingual student Professor Rebecca Li. Stuart Lachs, who was involved with Sheng-yen’s USA organization for 17 years as a designated teacher during Sheng-yen’s travels to Taiwan, has severely critiqued the “auto-hagiography” elements in this book in his online 2011 essay “When the Saints Go Marching In: Modern Day Zen Hagiography” ( Lachs reports, for instance, that according to three of Sheng-yen’s early students, the alleged six-month homeless period wandering the streets of New York in Winter never happened and yet was used in the auto-hagiography to enhance his image, just as were the frequent comparisons to illustrious Chan master Mazu. In any case, in Footprints we hear that Sheng-yen entered monastic life at age 13, fled China’s communists in 1949 to Taiwan, served in army intelligence for ten years and then trained hard in Chán under master Dongchu (d.1977) for two years before spending six years in solitary study, writing and meditation from 1961 to 1968. At the behest of his teacher, he lived in Japan from 1969 to 1975, completing a masters and doctorate in Buddhist studies at Rissho University and examining Japanese forms of Zen, Pure Land, Shingon, and new religions. He then came to the USA on invitation from multi-millionaire C.T. Shen to head a small monastery in the Bronx, NY, and, from 1978 until his passing in 2009, he split his time between his Chán community in the Bronx, New York and running his late master Dongchu’s Chung-Hwa Institute for Buddhist Culture (CHIBC) and Nongchan monastery in Taiwan, eventually starting the huge Dharma Drum Mountain monastery-seminary-college and dozens of training centers and satellite groups worldwide. Sheng-yen encouraged scholarly study of Buddhism along with deep practice of different styles of Chán. He wrote many books in Chinese and, with the help of his students, published in English, too; his most thorough book on Chán view and Chán practice (including both the Koan/Huatou practice and Silent Illumination methods, and the Samatha and Vipasyana practices) is Hoofprint of the Ox (Oxford Univ. Press, 2001), with lots of useful input and an Introduction to Master Sheng-yen from scholarly co-author Dan Stevenson; see also Sheng Yen, Shattering the Great Doubt: The Chan Practice of Huatou (Boston: Shambhala, 2009), on radical inquiry practice; The Poetry of Enlightenment: Poems by Ancient Ch’an Masters (Elmhurst, NY: Dharma Drum Publ., 1987) has translations of some 8th century and later Chán poetic texts; The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination (Shambhala, 2008), is a commentary on and translation of two works by Hongzhi (1091-1157) of the Caodong Chan school, who was the first to write in a major way about Silent Illumination Chán and on whom Sheng-yen based his method, which he outlines during this 7-day retreat. Attaining the Way: A Guide to the Practice of Chan Buddhism, Jimmy Yu, Tr. (Shambhala, 2006), is a compilation of writings given by four Chan masters—Boshan (1575-1630) of the Caodong line, Jiexian (1610-72) of the Linji line, the modern era’s Master Xuyun (d. 1959), and Sheng-yen. See also Jimmy Yu’s fine study of Sheng-yen’s evolving thought over time: “A Tentative Exploration into the Development of Master Sheng Yen’s Chan Teachings,” Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, 23 (2010): 3-38.


Shibayama, Abbot Zenkei, A Flower Does Not Talk: Zen Essays, Sumiko Kudo, Tr. (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1970). Rev. Shibayama (1894-1974), a university professor for many years and later abbot of Kyoto’s Nanzenji monastery (overseeing 500 Rinzai temples), discusses elements of Zen, including Hakuin’s Zazen Wasan (Song of Zen) and Jitoku Eki’s “6 Oxherding Pictures” stage-model (cf. Fumyo’s and Kakuan’s respective “10 Oxherding Pictures”). See Shibayama’s longer works on these topics, On Zazen Wasan: Hakuin’s Song of Zazen (Kyoto, 1967); Shibayama & Gyokusei Jikihara, Zen Oxherding Pictures (Tokyo: Sogensha, 1967), which examines the 10-picture schema. Also see Shibayama, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan (NY: Harper & Row, 1974).


Shigematsu, Soiku, Tr., A Zen Forest: Sayings of the Masters (NY: Weatherhill, 1981/1992). As Gary Snyder calls it in his introduction to this tiny yet rich book, this is an English-language “poem of poems,” a translation by Shigematsu of the 17th-century Japanese work Zenrin Kushu (A Zen Forest Saying Anthology), which contains about 6,000 Zen words, phrases and verses, taken mostly from various Chán classics, sutras and poetry of China’s Tang and Song dynasties; Shigematsu also translates some of the Zudokku Kushu, another saying collection of ancient wisdom, part of a 1922 work by Genro Fujita. The Zenrin Kushu had its origin in the similar Kuzoshi “Saying Book” compiled in the late 15th century by the Japanese Zen master Toyo Eicho (1428-1504). See also Robert Zenrin Lewis, Tr., Zen Grove Handbook (Zen Sangha Press, 2001), which translates the Zenrin Kushu and provides Chinese characters and Japanese kana-based and English translations.


Shigematsu, Soiku, Tr., A Zen Harvest (Berkeley, CA: North Point Press, 1988). Zen scholar Shigematsu translates the tanka (five line), dodoitsu (four line) and haiku (three line) verses from the Zenrin Segoshu or Zengoshu, a handbook compiled in Japanese by Zen masters to meet the demands of Zen students for whom the Zenrin Kushu (see above entry) was too difficult to read due to its being written in Chinese.


Shore, Jeff, Zen Classics for the Modern World: Translations of Chinese Zen Poems & Prose with Contemporary Commentary (Philadelphia: Diane Press, 2011). Shore (b.1953), a professor since 1987 at the Rinzai Zen school’s Hanazono University, and a longtime Zen practitioner and priest whom Victor Sogen Hori (a highly accomplished Rinzai Zen priest himself) calls “the first westerner to complete the Rinzai koan training in Japan under a Japanese Zen master,” here translates and comments upon three Chinese Chan texts from different traditions and eras: the poetic Enjoying the Way (Ledao ge) attributed to Nanyue Mingzan from the 8th century Northern Chan tradition; the profound verses and illustrations of the Ten Oxherding Pictures, from the 12th century Linji tradition; and the treatise Exhortations for Those Who Don’t Arouse the Doubt, from the early 17th century Caodong (Soto) tradition. See also Shore’s many transcribed retreat talks and his fascinating autobiographic essay, all filed at his blogsite,


Shrobe, Richard (Wu Kwang), Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans (Rodmell, 2010). Shrobe, a longtime Zennist of Seung Sahn’s Kwan Um School of Zen (Seon), selects 22 cases from the Biyan lu (Blue Cliff Record) and Wumenguan (Gateless Barrier) for deepening meditation practice, providing much background information and personal anecdotes for illumining each koan without trying to remove its paradoxical, provocative nature.


Sidor, Ellen, A Gathering of Spirit: Women Teaching in American Buddhism (Cumberland, RI: Primary Point Press, 1987). Features talks and discussions from three landmark conferences, “Women and Buddhism,” occurring in 1982, 1984 and 1985 at Seung Sahn’s Providence Zen Center. Presenters include authorized Zen/Seon teachers Gesshin Myoko Prabhasa Dharma Cheney (1931-99), Barbara Rhodes, Maurine Myo-on Stuart (Freedgood) (1922-90), Jan Chozen Soule, Toni Packer, et al., and women from other Buddhist traditions like Pema Chodron, Joanna Macy and Susan Murcott.


Smith, Elihu Genmyo, Everything Is the Way: Ordinary Mind Zen (Boston: Shambhala, 2012). Smith, a student of teachers Soen Roshi, Maezumi Roshi and especially Charlotte Joko Beck (he is her first Dharma-heir), with whom he co-founded the Ordinary Mind Zen School, is resident teacher of the Prairie Zen Center in Champaign, Illinois. In this book he comments on various Zen teachings and koans, emphasizing awakening from the selfish dream to basic Awareness through whatever activities experienced, be they koan practice, zazen, daily chores, etc. This wise book is divided into several sections: Practice, Impermanence, Nonself, On Being Transparency, and Jukai, Three Treasures and Three Precepts.


Smith, Jean, The Beginner’s Guide to Zen Buddhism (NY: Bell Tower, 2000). Well-illustrated with b&w photos, this is a helpful overview for complete newcomers on Zen practice and concepts. It provides very basic instruction on the “how” of meditation and protocol in a zendo, finding a teacher, a short description of the Buddha’s life, some brief Zen history, and an overview of key Mahayana and Zen texts (Smith’s coverage of the Xinxin ming, Platform Sutra and Zen history are the book’s weakest sections, unaware of scholars’ revisionism). She also provides some fundamental Zen teachings, as well as gathas and verses chanted daily in many Zen monasteries. The book includes a Q&A section, short annotated bibliography, and a listing of Zen centers in the USA and Canada and several in Europe. See also Smith’s 365 Zen: Daily Readings (HarperOne, 1999); and her more general books on Buddhist wisdom selections, Everyday Mind: 366 Reflections on the Buddhist Path (NY: Riverhead, 1997), with selections from ancient texts and contemporary teachers on mindfulness meditation, virtue and enlightenment; and Breath Sweeps Mind: (Riverhead, 1998), an introduction to the “what?” “why?” and “how?” of meditation practice and theory (mainly insight meditation), including posture, breathing, and potential problems, with short pieces by a variety of Buddhist (including Zen) teachers and texts, from ancient and modern sources, from the Buddha to Dogen to the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henepola Gunaratana, Gary Snyder, Jack Kornfield, Charlotte Joko Beck, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.


Sogen, Omori, An Introduction to Zen Training: The Classic Text on Rinzai Zen Training by One of the Foremost Masters of Twentieth-Century Zen, Hosokawa Dogen & Roy Yoshimoto, Tr. (Tokyo: Tuttle, 2002). This is a translation of the Sanzen Nyumon by Omori Sogen (1904-94), a no-nonsense, very strict Zen teacher. A widely respected sword adept, he became a right-wing, ultra-nationalist, pro-military advisor to the Japanese Cabinet in his late 20s. In 1945, right after WWII, he entered the priesthood in the Tenryu-ji Rinzai lineage. Over the next forty years he taught swordsmanship, calligraphy, and Zen, also writing twenty books and serving as a court magistrate, eventually becoming president of Hanazono Daigaku, the principle Rinzai university in Japan. He established the International Zen Dojo in Hawaii and Daihonzan Chozen-ji in Honolulu—the first headquarters temple in Rinzai Zen established under canon law outside Japan. See also Hosokawa Dogen’s biography of him, Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master (Keegan Paul International, 1999). Sogen is one of the Zennists profiled and exposed in Brian Victoria’s very critical work, Zen at War (chapter 4).


Sokei-an, Cat’s Yawn (NY: First Zen Institute of America, 1947); Zen Pivots: Lectures on Buddhism and Zen, Mary Farkas & Robert Lopez, Eds. (NY: Weatherhill, 1998). Sokei-an Shigetsu Sasaki (1882-1945) founded the Buddhist Society of America, from 1945 onward known as the First Zen Institute of America, a key group of East-West students-scholars-practitioners. One of its leading students, Ruth Fuller Everett, helped nurse Sasaki after his internment in eastern USA during the war, married him in the last year of his life, and helped carry on his work in the west and in Japan, assembling a team of scholars to finish with great expertise the translation projects he had begun, such as work on the Linji-lu.


Songchol, Opening the Eye, Brian Barry, Tr. (Gimm-Young Publishers, 2002). Revered as a living Buddha, Korea’s Ven. Toeong Seongcheol (Sŏngchŏl, 1912-93) was profoundly enlightened in 1940 at age 28, just three years after leaving his family home to become a monk (with permission from his wife with their baby daughter). A master of difficult austerities, from the 1950s to 1990s he hugely influenced the revival of Seon Buddhism in Korea, despite his frequent adherence to long periods of isolation, through his electric talks and writings. These talks were largely free of the “opaque” style of heavy koan use found with many Seon and Zen teachers, and were not just easily comprehensible but also full of fresh ways of speaking about classic Buddhist themes. Thus he could be very traditional yet quite modern, e.g., introducing ideas from science and western philosophy, or quoting Mahatma Gandhi. His wisdom and compassion were overflowing, and his ecumenical views were beautiful, calling on everyone, starting with Buddhists, to revere as Buddhas their oppressors and maligners, an especially heroic stance of “love thy enemy” given that from the mid-1980s onward many fanatic Christians were burning down of dozens of Seon Buddhist dharma halls, vandalizing Buddha images, and publicly defaming Buddhists as “idol worshippers.” Seongcheol Seunim was elected Patriarch of the Jogye Seon order from 1981 to 1991 and to a second term before he expired. When instructing and monitoring his students’ meditation sessions at the famous Haeinsa Temple in southeast Korea (he was its abbot for decades), he was known to be very strict, but only because he wanted them not to settle for any stunted, mediocre levels of awakening. A recent Patriarch of the Seon Jogye Order, Dorim Beopjeon (1925- ), was Seongcheol’s student and attendant for decades and has carried on this style of extremely austere yet gracious Seon Buddhism. In Opening the Eye, Brian Barry has compiled a treasure-trove of Ven. Seongcheol’s available writings and interviews, which strongly promote meditation, especially on the hwadu “Who am I?” (reminding one of India’s great modern era sage Ramana Maharshi’s approach to self-inquiry). See also (website for the Jogye Order of Seon Buddhism in S.Korea) for many freely available Dharma talks by Seongcheol.


So Sahn, The Mirror of Zen: The Classic Guide to Buddhist Practice by Zen Master So Sahn, Beop Jeong, Tr. into Korean; Hyon Gak, Tr. into English (Boston: Shambhala, 2006). See also Charles Mark Mueller’s fine English translation of Sosan’s Mirror of Seon/Zen (from the Korean text by Beop Jeong Sunim) at The Korean sage Hyujeong Seosan (Hyujong Sosan, 1520-1604) was a mountain meditator, poet, calligrapher, scholar and reconciler of different religions and schools of Buddhism. He was the towering figure in Korea’s Seon history after Jinul and Taego, and foremost monk of the entire Joseon/Chosŏn period (1392-1897), which saw a heavy repression of Buddhism by the Neo-Confucianist ruling class in the early centuries of their reign. Sosan was a prolific writer during his decades of reclusion before and after he briefly headed the Seon school in Korea at the ruler’s behest. Also notable is that Sosan in 1592 heroically organized the ultimately successful monk militia to resist and defeat the Japanese military invasion under General Hideyoshi. The Mirror of Zen/Son, just one of his many works, is Sosan’s Chinese-language commentaries on verses he selected from Buddhist and Chán texts; Sosan’s Mirror text was translated into Korean in the mid-20th century by noted Korean Seon master Beopjeong/Bŏpjŏng (1932-2010); American Seon monk Hyon Gak and scholar of Korean Buddhism Charles Mark Mueller have each translated this Korean text by Beopjeong Seunim into very readable English. Note that this book is only one section of Sosan’s original work, Mirror of the Three Religions: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. This fuller work is treated in a master’s thesis by Young Ho Lee (Jinwol Sunim), Common Themes of the Three Religions (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism): The Samga Kwigam of Hyujong [Sosan] (1520-1604), A Master Thesis at University of Hawaii, 1990.

Soseki, Muso, Dialogues in a Dream, Thomas Yuho Kirchner, Tr. (Kyoto: Tenryu-ji Institute for Philosophy & Rel., 2010); Dream Conversations: On Buddhism and Zen, T. Cleary, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 1996). In this most important of his many writings, the Muchu Mondo (Dream Dialogues), Muso Soseki or Muso Kokushi (“national Zen teacher Muso”) (1275-1351) answers questions from the young Ashikaga shogun on Zen practice. (Kirchner translates the complete work; Cleary translates most of it, omitting the question-answer format.) This born aristocrat studied Tendai and Shingon in youth before switching to Zen training at age 18, then spent years as a hermit meditator at sites in the mountains, from age 51 on becoming “Teacher to Seven Emperors,” the most famous Japanese monk of his time, and instructor to over 13,000 students. He established several great Zen temples before working with the Ashikaga brothers to set up the Five Mountain (Gozan) network of Rinzai temples in Japan, along with the Ankokuji subsidiary network throughout Japan, all of them centers of learning that deeply influenced Japanese culture. Master calligrapher and poet, Muso Soseki was also an adept landscape-designer of famed Zen gardens—see Andrew Keir Davidson, A Zen Life in Nature: Muso Soseki in His Gardens (Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 2006). Sun at Midnight: Poems & Sermons, W.S. Merwin and Soiku Shigematsu, Tr. (Upland, CA: Counterpoint, 2012) has 130 of Muso’s poems and several sermons and Q&A sessions. See also the already cited books by Martin Collcutt, Marian Ury and David Pollack on Muso Soseki and the various teachers and poets of the Rinzai “Five Mountain” Rinzai Zen system.


Stambaugh, Joan, The Formless Self (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1999). On Dogen Zenji and modern Zen philosophers Shinichi Hisamatsu and Keiji Nishitani of the “Kyoto School,” and realizing the non-objectifiable, non-reifiable self as openness.


Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters: Ikkyū, Hakuin, Ryōkan (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993; reprinted as Extraordinary Zen Masters: A Maverick, a Master of Masters, and a Wandering Poet, Echo Point, 2013). Stevens, whose work appears elsewhere in this bibliography in the context of Dogen, Ikkyu, Ryokan, etc., here tells the life stories of Ikkyu (1394-1481), Hakuin (1686-1768), and Ryokan (1758-1831) with translated selections of their poetry and essays. Stevens (b.1947) lived in Japan for 35 years, taught Buddhist studies at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, became an ordained Buddhist priest, has curated several major exhibitions of Zen art, teaches Aikido and calligraphy, and authored over 30 books on Japanese topics—nearly a dozen of these books pertain to Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the illustrious founder of Aikido, the most peaceful of the martial arts (budo).


Stone, Jacqueline, Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism, (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999). On the idea of hongaku, original enlightenment as to the innate Buddha-nature within all beings; usually contrasted as a “doctrinal view” with the practice of “acquired enlightenment” (shigaku) via cultivation.


Stryk, Lucien, and Ikemoto, Takashi, Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes, Interviews (NY: Doubleday, 1965; Chicago: Swallow Press, reprint 1982). Fine, diverse selections, from Japanese masters of both Rinzai and Soto sects. This was definitely one of the best Zen readers of its era and still works very well to introduce a number of teachers and their cogent insights.


Stryk, Lucien, & Ikemoto, Takashi, Tr. & Ed., Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter (NY: Grove Press, 1995; reprint of Penguin Book of Zen Poetry). Spans 1500 years, from the early Tang dynasty to the modern era, from Chinese to Japanese masters, including enlightenment verses, haiku, and poems by Shinkichi Takahashi, Japan’s contemporary Zen poet.


Stryk, Lucien, The Awakened Self: Encounters With Zen (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1995). A noted American proponent of Zen literature discusses how Zen is, despite the odds, succeeding in transforming numerous westerners. This book is an expanded edition of Stryk’s earlier work Encounter with Zen, an assortment of essays with cogent insights on Zen’s unusual role in modern society, the arts, poetry and religious practice.


Sung, Chungwhan, “Women in Gray Robes: Continuity in the Traditional and Contemporary Religious Identity of Korean Buddhist Nuns,” PhD dissertation, University of Floriday, 2011. Good historical and ethnographic research on Seon Buddhist nuns, relying mostly on Korean-language resources and her own fieldwork. Despite numerous unedited spelling and grammar errors, Sung provides valuable information and insight on her topics, including a close focus on the largest nunnery in (South) Korea, the Unmun-sa, and its monastic seminary, as well as an in-depth look at the life and significant contributions of a great women leaders of Korean Seon Buddhism, especially the revolutionary Rev. Myeongseong (b.1931). Filed at


Suzuki, Daisetsu Teitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, series 1-3 (London: Rider, 1949; orig. published in 1927, 1933, 1934). D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966) was a scholar-mystic disciple of Rinzai Zen abbot Soen Shaku (1860-1919), the aforementioned pioneer Zennist in the West. Suzuki came on Soen’s second trip in 1905 and stayed in the USA at Soen’s request, teaching at major universities (Columbia, Stanford), strongly influencing Christmas Humphreys, Alan Watts, Thomas Merton, Erich Fromm, et al. In his classic trilogy Essays in Zen Buddhism, he covers much Zen history and insight, albeit some of the history must be rewritten in light of findings by Yanagida Seizan, John McRae, Bernard Fauré, Mario Poceski, Albert Welter, et al.. See also Suzuki’s other works, including: The Lankavatara Sutra (Boulder, CO: Prajna Press, 1978, orig. publ. 1932), a classic Mahayana Buddhist work and primary text for Zen; Manual of Zen Buddhism (NY: Grove Press, 1960, orig. publ. 1934), mainly an anthology of teaching from great Chinese and Japanese teachers; The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk (NY: Globe Press, 1991; orig. publ., 1934), with 43 beautiful illustrations by Sato Zenchu of Tokei-ji in Kamakura, and for several decades the best introduction to what life in a Zen monastery entails; Zen Doctrine of No-Mind (NY: Samuel Weiser, 1973; orig. publ. 1949), an explication of the influential “Platform Sutra” fancifully attributed to Hui-neng; Living by Zen: A Synthesis of the Historical and Practical Aspects of Zen Buddhism (Rider, 1949), focusing especially on koan practice and realization of satori-enlightenment; Studies in Zen (Rider, 1955), containing seven essays beginning with one in 1906; and his largely well-received Zen and Japanese Culture (NY: Pantheon, 1959), though that text is far too heavy in its discussion sections on samurai warriors, swords and tea ceremony, leaving the dozens of plates of paintings almost entirely to speak for themselves. A related art-book by Suzuki is Sengai the Zen Master (London: Faber & Faber, 1971). See also two edited selections of his writings, Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D.T. Suzuki, William Barrett, Ed. (NY: Doubleday, 1956); and Essentials of Zen Buddhism, Bernard Phillips, Ed. (NY: Dutton, 1962). Still other works by Suzuki include several articles/books on Jodo Shin / Pure Land devotional Buddhism, which he personally espoused more and more later in life, see, e.g., Shin Buddhism (NY: Harper & Row, 1970). Suzuki has been criticized by scholars like Bernard Fauré for his “ideal Zen” bias and for his greater attention to his own Rinzai Zen school over Soto Zen. One could add his disinterest in any Chinese Chán sources beyond the Song dynasty or the Korean Seon tradition (though, in his favor, little was in print about Korean Seon during Suzuki’s peak years as a researcher). Still, Suzuki is well-worth reading for many of his insights, his translations, and his prodigious store of knowledge. See also the 2006 documentary film, “A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki: The Man Who Introduced Zen Buddhism to the West,” by Michael Goldberg, with rare archival footage.


Suzuki, Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (NY: Weatherhill, 1970). Big-selling book of insightful talks on the “nothing-to-attain” practice of Soto-style Zen by Shunryu Suzuki (1904-71), founder of the northern California Zen complex including the San Francisco Zen Center, the Tassajara monastery in the mountains east of Carmel Valley and the Green Gulch Zen center in Marin County. See also his talk compilations, Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai (Univ. of California, 1999); Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen (HarperCollins, 2002); Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, Author of "Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind," David Chadwick, Ed. (Shambhala, 2007). A really thorough account of Suzuki’s life, wisdom and social impact is David Chadwick’s rich tome, Crooked Cucumber: The Life & Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki (NY: Broadway Books, 1999).


Swanson, Paul, & Clark Chilson, Eds., Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2005). A useful resource for those wishing to view Japanese Zen in the larger context of Japan’s religious traditions as a whole. From the book description: “The essays are divided into four sections: religious traditions (Japanese religions in general, Shinto, Buddhism, folk religion, new religions, Christianity); the history of Japanese religions (ancient, classical, medieval, early modern, modern, contemporary); major themes (symbolism, ritual and the arts, literature and scripture, state and religion, geography and environment, intellectual history, gender); and ‘practical’ essays (finding references and using libraries, working with archive collections, conducting fieldwork). A chronology of religion in Japanese history is also provided.”


Taego Bou, A Buddha from Korea: The Zen Teachings of T’aego, J.C. Cleary, Tr. (Boston: Shambhala, 1988). Taego Bou (1301-82) was the next major Seon/Sŏn Buddhist figure in Korea after Jinul/Chinul (d.1210). Deeply enlightened at age 37 after many years of Seon practice as a monk, he went to China in 1346 to see Linji Chán master Shiwu Jinggong (1272-1352), who confirmed Taego’s mature realization and, in acknowledging Dharma transmission, provided Korean Buddhism with a traceable lineage of ancestors back through Linji to Huineng to Bodhidharma. With the support of King Gongmin, Taego went on to unify the nine schools of Seon into the Jogye/Chogye sect and also tried, with only partial, temporary success, to unite Seon with the other Buddhist sects of the day in Korea.


Taisen Deshimaru, Voice of the Valley: Zen Teachings by Roshi Taisen Deshimaru, Philippe Coupey, Ed. (NY: Bobbs-Merrill, 1979); Taisen Deshimaru, Questions to a Zen Master, Nancy Amphoux, Tr. (NY: Dutton, 1985). Taisen (1914-82) studied under popular Zen adept and iconoclast Kodo Sawaki (d.1965) of Japan and in 1967 brought Soto Zen to France, inspiring the founding of dozens of centers in Europe. As a friend writes of Deshimaru: “He had a fondness for drinking and womanizing—but at least [unlike others] he was completely open about it.” Soto master Kosen Nishiyama Roshi (31st patriarch and abbot of the Daiman-ji Temple in Sendai, Japan) was very critical of Deshimaru.


Takuan Soho, The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master, William Scott Wilson, Tr. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1986). Rinzai monk-poet-scholar Takuan Soho (1573-1645) was “the pre-eminent figure of Rinzai Zen at the beginning of the Edo (Tokyo) period” (Dumoulin); he functioned more as a scholar-artist and counselor to people of all strata than a monastic-focused abbot (he was made abbot of two monasteries early and late in life); he brought the Zen spirit to swordmanship, gardening, sumi-e painting, chado tea ceremony, and shodo calligraphy. Wilson’s translations of three of Takuan’s long and quite interesting letters are at


Tanahashi, Kazuaki, and Tensho David Schneider, Essential Zen (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994). Illustrated with brushwork calligraphy by Tanahashi, this 144-page collection (plus front and back matter) of verses, sayings, and anecdotes is organized according to 14 different section heads—pertaining to topics such as “journey,” “skillful guidance,” “just sitting,” “chopping wood” (work), cooking food, death, “grandmother’s heart,” great doubt, “aesthetics of emptiness,” “mountains and waters,” and “circle.” The editors solicited “all the Zen groups we could find” in the USA and some in Europe for their favorite selections and added some of these to their own personal selection. Sources range from classic Chán/Zen sages and texts (with an emphasis on Shitou, Han Shan, Dongshan, Dogen, Ikkyu, Hakuin, and Ryokan) to modern figures like Robert Aitken, Gary Snyder, Shunryu Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, Alan Watts, John Daido Loori, Bernard Glassman, Peter Matthiessen, Joan Halifax, Peter Levitt and others.


That, Le Manh, Tran Nhan Tong [1218-1277]: A Biographical Study (Ho Chi Minh City: Vietnam Buddhist Univ., 2006).


Thich Nhat Hanh, Essential Writings, R. Ellsberg, Ed., Sr. Annabel Laity, Introd. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2001), on “Thay” Nhat Hanh (b.1926), the widely celebrated teacher, writer, social activist, publisher, magazine editor and reconciler of Buddhist schools in Vietnam, then exiled traveling peace-activist and teacher of meditation and socially engaged Buddhism, founder of the Order of Interbeing and inspiration for the Plum Village retreat center in southwest France, f. in 1982 after the community had outgrown the Sweet Potatoes Hermitage outside Paris from 1975-1982. With many dozens of books of his talks, writings and poetry to his name (most published by Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA), he and the Dalai Lama are the two globally best-known Buddhist monks and teachers today. Though considered to be of the Thien (Zen) tradition (which was never very strong in Vietnam, with a minor presence in the north), he mainly talks and writes on mindfulness meditation and general Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist principles in the life of the person and society. On a key period of his early activity East and West, see his autobiographic Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals 1962-1966, Mobi Warren, Tr. (Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1998); and also an equally revelatory work by his longtime saintly colleague Sister Chan Khong (Chao Ngoc Phuong), Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam (Parallax, 1993). An early book looking more at his Zen principles is Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice, Albert & Jean Low, Tr. from a 1973 French work (NY: Doubleday 2nd ed., 1995); the book concludes with forty-three koans with comments and verses of Tran Thai Tong (1218-1277) who ruled from 1226-58 as the first king then emperor of the Tran dynasty in the northern Dai Viet region, and was also devoted to Buddhism, including Chán.


Thich Thanh Tu, Truc Lam Founder: Two Stages of Life, Tu Tam Hoang, Tr., and several other works by Thich Thanh Tu with Tu Tam Hoang, Tr., including, The Practicing Method of Vietnamese Zen, My Whole Life, The Source of Buddhist Dharmas, etc. (n.d., most published between 2000-2005), available from Thich Thanh Tu (b.1924), endeavoring to re-create the spirit of the medieval Truc Lam (Bamboo Forest) Thien/Zen school of the late 13th-14th centuries in northern Vietnam, beginning in 1971 began to open monasteries and nunneries emphasizing meditation and textual study over “merit-making” ritualism in what Alexander Soucy has termed a “neo-Zen” Thien movement that owes more to the globalized Buddhism and the teachings of the historical Buddha than to the medieval Truc Lam institution. In any case, Thanh Tu’s modern Truc Lam Thien organization has grown by leaps and bounds to include numerous establishments in southern, central and northern Vietnam, as well as within the Vietnamese diaspora in the U.S., Canada, Australia and elsewhere.


Thien-An, Thich, Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice (Emeryville, CA: Dharma. Pub., 1975); Buddhism and Zen in Vietnam: In Relation to the Development in Asia (Tuttle, 1975). Illuminating view of Zen/Thien by this Vietnamese master (lived 1926-80) who established the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles.


Tisdale, Sallie, Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom (San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2007). Tisdale, a trainee for the Soto Zen priesthood, a lay Zennist of 25 years, and a feminist author and consultant to the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, constructs her own Chán/Zen lineage for women, recovering women’s stories, “herstories,” within Buddhist history. As with many accounts of “women in Buddhism,” she commences with over a dozen female arhats and adepts’ stories and teachings from the old Pali Canon work Therigatha, then proceeds to cover, sometimes only briefly due to paucity of historical and even quasi-historical data, the numerous Chinese and Japanese Chán/Zen women adepts down through the ages. These include, in China, Bodhidharma’s little-known female disciple Zongchi, then Shiji, Ling Xingpo, Lingzhao (daughter of Layman Pang), Liu Tiemo, Moshan Liaoran (first female to appear in the transmission lineage charts and chronicles with her own record), Miaoxin, Abbess Huiguang (a teacher of women and men), Huiwen (renowned public orator) and her successor Fadeng Wuxiang at Jingju nunnery, the enlightened laywoman Kongshi Daoren, Yu Daopo, and Miaodao (Dahui’s first Dharma-heir). In Japan, the procession of women includes Zenshin (started the first Buddhist convent soon after Buddhism came to Japan), the Zen figures Ryonen, Shogaku and Egi (all three associated with Dogen Zenji), Mugai Nyodai (f. Keiai-ji as Japan’s first Zen nunnery and head temple of the women’s wing of the Gozan Rinzai Zen temple network), Shido (first abbess of Tokei-ji in Kamakura), Ekan Daishi (a nun, Keizan’s mother), Myosho Enkan, Konto Ekyu and Mokufu Sonin (disciples and colleagues of Soto’s Keizan Zenji), Shotaku and Yodo (later abbesses at Tokei-ji), Eshun (scarred her face to join the male sangha), Ryonen Genso (famous Rinzai/Obaku Zen adept and benefactor to society), Tejitsu (first abbot of a Soto temple for women after Eihei-ji closed its division for women trainees), and Ohashi (former geisha turned awakened disciple of Hakuin). Finally Tisdale looks at several Zen women of the modern era, including Tenmyo Jorin, who helped establish many Soto women’s monasteries at the turn of the 20th century, and other Japanese and westerners—Ruth Fuller Sasaki (1892-1967), Nagasawa Sozen, Kendo Kojima (1898-1994), Yoshida Eshun (1907-82), Houn Peggy Jiyu Kennett (1924-96), Maurine Myo-on Stuart (1922-90), and Gesshin Myoko Prabhasa Dharma Cheney (1931-99). The profiles of these women of the 20th century are fairly brief, usually just a page or two, as is the case with the women earlier covered by Tisdale.


Torei Enji, The Undying Lamp of Zen: The Testament of Zen Master Torei, Thomas Cleary, Tr. (Shambhala, 2010). Torei, one of Hakuin’s two most important helpers in reviving Rinzai Zen, urges deep realization and critiques shallow Zen.


Tsai, Kathryn Ann, Tr., Lives of the Nuns: Biographies of Chinese Buddhist Nuns from the Fourth to the Sixth Centuries (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1994). Tsai translates the Biqiuni zhuan, “Biographies of Nuns,” a Chinese Buddhist work covering women monastics mainly in southern China from their appearance in the 4th century onward for two centuries. Since the chronicle pre-dates the rise of monastic Chan Buddhism, there is no information about Chan women ren, but since Chan when it did arise and flourish was far more a part of mainstream Buddhism than previously thought, until at least the Song period (960-1279), the accounts herein will give good idea as to what much of the later Chan nuns’ lives were like. By the way, Tsai takes the compiler of the Biqiuni zhuan to be Baochang, who is known to be the author of the work Mingseng zhuan, “Biographies of Famous Monks,” but in Tom De Rauw’s essay, “Baochang: Sixth-Century Biographer of Buddhist Monks… and Nuns?” in J. of the American Oriental Society, 125.2 (April-June 2005): 203-18, De Rauw persuasively questions Baochang’s authorship of the Biqiuni zhuan on several points.


Tworkov, Helen, Zen in America: Five Teachers and the Search for an American Buddhism (NY: Kodansha, rev. expanded ed., 1994). Profiles of Robert Aitken, Maurine Stuart, Bernard Glassman, Jakusho Kwong and Richard Baker (fallen former leader of the S.F. Zen Center) by Tworkov, who is founder-editor of the prominent Buddhist magazine Tricycle.


Van de Wetering, Janwillem, The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery (London: Routledge, Kegan & Paul, 1973); A Glimpse of Nothingness: Experiences in an American Zen Community (Routledge, Kegan & Paul, 1975); Afterzen: Experiences of a Zen Student out on His Ear (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1999). Van de Wetering (1931-2008) was an acclaimed Dutch mystery-novelist, translator and world-traveler, years earlier a police officer interspersed with being a student of Zen; The Empty Mirror candidly related his adventures and misadventures training as a Zen student at Daitokuji in Kyoto for 18 months in 1958-9 (beer and brothels were the occasional escape for some of the monks and himself). His second book relates a less happy experience with a mediocre Rinzai Zen teacher in the northeast USA whom he only names “Sensei” (but who is clearly Walter Nowick, whose Zen community in Hancock County, Maine, fell apart due to his emotional problems and homosexual pursuit of a married male student). Afterzen includes criticism yet also sincere appreciation for what he has learned from his time in these two Zen institutions East and West, especially under his very kind Roshi Oda Sessō (1901-66) at Daitokuji (de Wetering is once again critical of his American teacher’s gloomy, manipulative approach to Zen). He relates the experiences of others—such as his composite character Bobbie-san, highly accomplished in the Japanese Zen milieu—on how that world of Japanese Zen is not always as impressive as some foreigners might like to think, some of the alleged “masters” not really so masterful when faced with difficult situations. Afterzen is a whimsical work, written in a chatty, fluid manner skipping around in spacetime to muse or ruminate on his points, sometimes expressed a bit too glibly and casually. His loosely drawn composite characters make the book sometimes seem more like a work of fiction. Yet Van de Wetering shares fun anecdotes, ribald humor and wears his philosophy lightly, ultimately concluding that a nihilistic, “nothing matters” Zen, a viewpoint with which he flirts throughout much of the book, is ultimately not the point. Living in harmony with the world of forms and fellow sentient beings is the point.


Verebes, Chris, Empty House: Zen Masters and Temples of Korea (Seoul, S.Korea: Eastward Publ., 2002). Beautifully illustrated guidebook based on Verebes’ visits to 85 Korean Seon Buddhist temples, with descriptions of the lives and teachings of the Seon masters in residence. Its 330 pages offer a rare, rich portfolio of Korean Seon. See also Chris Verebes, Mind Only: Essence of Zen (Elizabeth, NJ: Hollym International, 2002), on the 1,400 year old rich tradition of Korean Seon/Sŏn Buddhism.


Waddell, Norman, Baisao The Old Tea Seller: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto (Upland, CA: Counterpoint, 2008). Baisao, “Old Tea Seller” (1675-1763), an Obaku Zen monk who humbly refused to head the temple where he trained for years (also traveling to other temples), at age 49 left his home monastery in Kyushu for a life of mendicancy, eventually becoming famous in Kyoto for his poetry, calligraphy, and especially his serving green loose-leaf sencha tea to passersby, relying only on donations, ascetically enduring frequent cold and hunger, yet stimulating a progressive cultural flowering among the younger artists and intelligentsia of his day. Waddell, on the basis of yeoman work by Japanese scholars, provides copious notes and provides excellent context for appreciating the life and labors of this unusual Zen figure, who in his 66th year officially re-entered lay status.

Wagner, Alan Gerard, “Practice and Emptiness in the Discourse Record of Ruru Jushi, Yan Bing (d. 1212), a Chan Buddhist Layman of the Southern Song,” PhD dissertation (Cambridge, MA: Univ. of Harvard, 2008; filed at Wagner introduces to the public one of the most extraordinary Chan laymen of the Southern Song period, Yan Bing or “Layman Ruru,” a Dharma-grandson of Dahui Zonggao and author of works showing great insight into the loftier and also expedient levels of teaching. Wagner’s translation of Ruru’s Record provides a clear window onto the views and values of an eminent Chan layman of that era. As Wagner assesses Yang Bing’s Record, based on pioneering research by Japanese scholars Shiina Kōyū and Nagai Masashi, “His extant writings survive in two editions, a handwritten manuscript of more than 400 pages and a woodblock print of 121 pages. In this rare and exceptional corpus we find a great wealth of primary material on Buddhist thought, culture, and practice in the Southern Song (1127–1279), including essays on doctrine, morality and meditation, written prayers and supplications, detailed ritual protocols, records of his formal Chan teachings, a complex diagram of the Buddhist cosmos, and essays and verses on the unity of the ‘Three Teachings’ (Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism).” Wagner includes useful discussion of the question of emptiness-view vis-à-vis practice, ethics and piety. He discusses Dahui’s teachings at some length (one of his advisors is Miriam Levering, an expert on Dahui) and also Pure Land thought and practice.


Warner, Brad, Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies & the Truth about Reality (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publ., 2003); Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2007); Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate (New World, 2009); Sex, Sin and Zen (New World, 2010); Hardcore Zen Strikes Again! (Cooperative Press, 2012); and There Is No God and He Is Always With You: A Search for God in Odd Places (New World, 2013). The flamboyant, sassy Zen populist Warner (b.1964) is a former punk rock musician (bassist) from Ohio, who after initial study of Zen went to Tokyo for eleven years to help make monster movies, in the process learning Japanese and also training and ordaining under Soto Zen teacher Gudo Wafu Nishijima. Back in the USA, Warner, permanently based in Los Angeles since 2012, has worked various gigs while teaching, writing and blogging on Zen and other topics in his characteristically punky style, urging people to “question authority” and find truth on their own. Contemporary Authors (Gale, 2008) aptly describes Warner’s books as “somewhat rambling affairs written in a highly informal and desultory style,” also highly personal, with his lengthy “trademark tangents,” which usually contain a basic moral teaching. See his website (with linked blog)


Watts, Alan, The Way of Zen (NY: Pantheon Books, 1957). Watts (1915-73) brings a lot of color to this very readable work, superior to his initial youthful work, The Spirit of Zen (1936), which was based mainly on D.T. Suzuki’s books. See also Watts’ many other writings, which express something of Zen, such as his autobiography and Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen (1959), Psychotherapy East and West (1961), and films Zen Meditations with Alan Watts (2007, DVD) and Zen: The Best of Alan Watts: A Memorial Anthology (1994, VHS), which includes segments of the best of Elda Hartley’s 7 films involving Watts (viewable in full at ). See also Peter Columbus & Donadrian Rice, Eds., Alan Watts—Here and Now: Contributions to Psychology, Philosophy and Religion (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2012).


Weinstein, Stanley, Buddhism under the T’ang (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987). Important scholarly work on a crucial period for Chinese Buddhism and the formative period for the proto-Chán and “classical” Chán developments. Weinstein has mentored many of the top scholars in the field of Chan studies.


Welch, Holmes, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900-1950 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1967). At 465 pages of text and appendices, and another 130 pages of notes, glossary, etc., this book, the first in a magnificent trilogy based on fieldwork, writings and interviews by Holmes Welch (1924-81), contains an impressive amount of information on the situation of Chinese Buddhism at Jinshan-si (Chin-shan-ssu), Gaomin-si (Kao-min-ssu) and other major Chán and Pure Land practice centers and temples, right before the undermining and then ruthless persecution by the Maoist communist regime, whose “land reforms” were a quick bureaucratic way of basically putting an end to operations at the large public monasteries. Welch, a former diplomat with degrees in Asian Studies from Harvard, an expert on ancient contemplative Daoism as well as Buddhism, compiles his own and others’ research on nearly 100 larger Buddhist temples, averaging 130 monks in residence per temple. The main book chapters include the types of monastery personnel; the nature and activities of the meditation hall; the Buddha recitation hall; the rules pertaining to meals, clothing, health, hygiene, misconduct and punishment; smaller hereditary and branch temples; the abbot; rites for the dead; monastery finances/economy; entering the Sangha; the monastic career; lay practice; sects, schools and syncretism. Among other things, Welch debunks D.T. Suzuki’s glib remark after a 1934 visit to China, “There is no more Zen in China” and points to exemplary figures like masters Xuyun, Laiguo, Yuanying (Welch’s Wade-Giles romanization changed to Pinyin here), et al. leading a revival of Chán. Welch tells us that in 1930, there were half a million monks living in 100,000 temples, most of them Chán temples. Some 95% of the approx. 500,000 monastics lived in small “hereditary” temples (zisun miao) personally owned by a monk or group of monks. By contrast, the few hundred “large public monasteries” (shifang conglin) were owned collectively by the Buddhist sangha and housed anywhere from a dozen or two dozen monastics up to 400-500 monks/nuns in permanent residence. These “elite” temples operated with a different purpose and operational set-up than the smaller “proletariat” temples, as Welch calls them. Between the two kinds of temples “there lay all gradations of size and character.” The very few very large temples served as exemplars for the rest, with their strict rules and complex organizational departments. Most exemplary in the view of monastics throughout China were the Jiangdian-si or Jinshan (named after the mountain of this name) at Zhenjiang near the southern bank of the Yangzi River between Nanjing and Shanghai, and the Gaomin-si across the river toward Yangzhou not far away. Welch also drew much of his data from other large monasteries in east-central China—the Baohua and Qixia-shan (Nanjing), Jiao-shan (Zhenjiang), Tianning-si (Changzhou) and Tiantong-si (Ningbo). Along with academic studies of the Ming and later dynastic periods in China, this book helps us fill in some answers to the big question: whatever happened to Chán Buddhism after its heyday in the Song dynasty (960-1279)? Holmes Welch used his extensive research to put together a sequel of nearly 400 pages, The Buddhist Revival in China (Harvard Univ. Press, 1968), but the book was premature, given how China’s brutally suppressive “Cultural Revolution” from 1966-76 utterly stifled the incipient revival—see Welch’s own 666-page third volume, Buddhism Under Mao (Harvard Univ. Press, 1972). It would not be until Deng Xiaoping’s era of openness in the latter 1980s that a revival truly began to occur. Bill Porter’s book Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China (2009) helps us see some of what is re-emerging for Chán Buddhism in the aftermath of the broad destruction and intense pressures enacted by the Communists from 1949 into the 1980s, which period saw most monastics returned to lay life, monasteries and shrines destroyed and/or their buildings converted to secular use, and no monastic ordinations permitted after 1957, by which year fully 90% of monks and nuns had returned to lay life, according to Welch’s sources.


Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity: Illuminating Classic Zen Koans (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2005). A translation of the original gong’an cases and commentaries and verses in the Congrong lu (Ts’ung-jung-lu; J.: Shoyoroku) gong’an/koan-collection compiled with verse commentary by the 12th-century Caodong master Hongzhi Zhengjue. This volume adds the original commentaries on each case by western Soto Zen teacher Wick. See also the translation by Thomas Cleary (1990).


Wienpahl, Paul, The Matter of Zen: A Brief Account of Zazen (NY: New York University Press, 1964); Zen Diary (NY: Harper & Row, 1970). The first book is an account of various aspects of Zen, which he experienced first-hand for six months at Daitokuji under master Gotō Zuigan in the early 1960s; in his second book, Wienpahl (1916-80), a professor of philosophy at Univ. of Calif. at Santa Barbara, shares his detailed notes on the rigorous process of wrestling with the Mu koan and daily sanzen encounters with Zuigan Roshi.


Williams, Duncan Ryuken, The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2005). Williams, taking off from the pioneering approaches taken by Martin Collcutt and William Bodiford on the Rinzai and Soto Zen institutions of earlier periods, approaches the Tokugawa or Edo era (1600-1868) from a study of temple logbooks, prayer and funerary manuals, death registries, miracle tales of popular Buddhist deities, secret initiation papers, villagers’ diaries, and fund-raising donor lists to examine what was actually occurring in the average Soto Zen temple as lived by the great majority of ordinary priests and laity: funerary and memorial rites, festivals, physical healing (via exclusive Soto medicines and talismans), and faith healing (via deity-worship). The priests and laity rarely or even never practiced zazen meditation, recited or pondered koans, or read Dogen’s writings (p. 3). Williams does not rail against the dearth of such monastic practices, which are regarded as “real” Zen by most westerners, but rather persuasively argues that this involvement with the laity’s religious needs (both “other-worldly” and “this-worldly”) greatly strengthened the Soto school in terms of widespread lay support—allowing it to become the largest Buddhist sect of the Edo period, with 75,000 temples. In short, Soto Zen’s success had more to do with popular social benefits than its emphasis on Zen masters’ teachings and zazen practice.


Wilson, William Scott, The One Taste of Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking Tea (Boston: Shambhala, 2012). After a fairly short yet informative introduction to some elements in the history of Buddhism, Kukai’s Shingon Buddhism, Zen and the Japanese tea ceremony, Wilson spends the bulk of his book translating and commenting upon 109 ichigyōmono, given in cursive calligraphy and English transliteration. These are the “one-liner” sayings, and thousands exist, appearing in calligraphy on the kakejiku hanging scrolls, that provide “points of contemplation for helping create the appropriate atmosphere.” Eminent tea-master Sen no Rikyu called these calligraphy scrolls with their sayings the most important implement in the chanoyu tea ceremony. Wilson’s format allows him to discuss in a light-hearted, flowing way a number of basic themes in Zen and Daoism relevant for mindful living, easeful flowing, and, of course, the simple way of drinking and sharing tea. He cites many East Asian wisdom sources, from ancient Daoist and Confucian classics to Zen masters, poets and warriors, helpfully providing the hanzi/kanji characters for many pithy quotations.


Wirth, Jason, Ed., Zen No Sho: The Calligraphy of Fukushima Keido Roshi (Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publ., 2003). Multi-faceted essays by Wirth, Audrey Yoshiko Seo, Stephen Addiss, Stephen Goldberg, et al., on the Zen approach and calligraphy (with 20 examples) by Fukushima Keido (1933-2011), pupil of Rinzai teacher Shibayama Roshi (1894-1974), plus an interview with Keido, and Ronald Carlisle’s chapter on the Tofuku-ji, one of Kyoto’s oldest Zen monasteries and its largest, headed from 1980 on for over two decades by Keido Roshi. See also Ishwar Harris (2004).


Wood, Ernest, Zen Dictionary (NY: Philosophical Library, 1962). A useful entry at the time, but much more is now known.


Wu, Jiang, Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century China (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2008). Describes how Chan reemerged as the most prominent Buddhist establishment during the turbulent Ming-Qing dynastic transition when the neo-Confucians mainly prevailed among the ruling classes. This book is the most important window on the period for those interested in Chan and it discusses many Chan masters unknown to most westerners and Japanese.


Wu, Jiang, Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014). A sequel to his book Enlightenment in Dispute, Jiang Wu here performs scholarly analysis of the impact of Chan master Yinyuan Longqi (J: Ingen Ryūki) (1592-1673) on Japanese Zen and Japanese culture when he arrived at Nagasaki in 1654 on invitation from a Japanese monk-painter and proceeded with his Chinese and Japanese colleagues to establish a new school of Japanese Zen, the Ōbaku-shū (C: Huangbo-zong). This new school was blessed by the shogun in the building (commencing 1661) of the grand Manpuku-ji temple in a southern Kyoto suburb. Wu demonstrates (as the book’s blurb notes) that Yinyuan’s “significance is far greater than the temporary success of a religious sect. Rather, Yinyuan imported to Japan a new discourse of authenticity that gave rise to indigenous movements that challenged, and led to the eventual breakup of, a China-centered world order.”


Wu, John (Wu Ching-hsiung), The Golden Age of Zen: Zen Masters of the T’ang Dynasty (NY: Doubleday, 1996, orig. publ. 1967). Nuanced spiritual discussion by Wu (1899-1986)—albeit lacking the facts and insights revealed by subsequent historical scholarship—of the Tang era’s (618-907) primary Chán figures, from Bodhidharma to the founders of the “Five Houses of Chán.”


Wu, Yi, The Mind of Chinese Ch’an (Zen): The Ch’an School Masters and Their Kung-ans (San Francisco: Great Learning Publishing, 1989). Not widely read, but deserving to be better known, by a well-respected scholar of Chinese religions. See also Yi Wu, “On Chinese Ch’an in Relation to Taoism,” J. of Chinese Philosophy, 12 (1985): 131-54, at Good examination of the link between China’s older Daoist tradition and the newer Chán spiritual tradition that arose on the basis of Indian and Chinese elements.


Xingyun (Hsing-yun), Lotus In A Stream: Essays in Basic Buddhism, Tom Graham, Tr. (NY: Weatherhill, 2000); Only a Great Rain: A Guide to Chinese Buddhist Meditation, Tom Graham, Tr., John McRae, Introd. (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 1999); The Rabbit’s Horn: A Commentary on the Platform Sutra (Buddha’s Light Publ., 2010), Fu Chi-Ying, Handing Down the Light: The Biography of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Amy Lui-ma, Tr. (Buddha’s Light Publ., 3rd ed., 2004); and dozens of books of teachings from the renowned monk and educator Xingyun (Hsing-yün; 1927-), a Dharma heir in the Linji Chán (Rinzai Zen) line. Fleeing to Taiwan from China in the mass exodus of 1949, he deepened his trainings and then used print, radio and television to famously spread Buddhist ideals in a clear, concise manner that for the first time really began to spread Buddhism in Taiwan. In 1967 he founded the large Fo Guang Shan monastery-university in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (headquarters for over 170 temples-schools in Taiwan and abroad, including the big Nan Tien complex in Australia and Hsi Lai complex in Hacienda Heights, California in 1988); and in 1992, he founded Buddha’s Light International Assn. (BLIA, now with over a million members worldwide including a few thousand nuns and monks), all of which promote Xingyun’s compassionate, ecumenical, egalitarian “Humanistic Buddhism.”


Yang, Fenggang and Dedong Wei, “The Bailin Buddhist Temple: Thriving Under Communism,” pp. 63-87 in State, Market, and Religions in Chinese Societies, edited by Fenggang Yang & Joseph Tamney (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2005; filed at An insightful academic article by two eminent scholars of Chinese religion on the revival of a leading Chan monastery in northern China by one of the top Chinese Buddhist officials of recent times, Abbot Jinghui (1933-2013), a highly-educated and well-connected former attendant of Master Xuyun. Features useful biographical material on Jinghui.


Yasutani, Hakuun, Flowers Fall: A Commentary on Zen Master Dōgen’s Genjokoan (Boston: Shambhala, 1996). Yasutani (1884-1973), featured in Kapleau’s Three Pillars of Zen, founded the offshoot Sanbo Kyodan Zen sect in Japan. Fine Zen teacher, but rabidly right-wing in his politics and supportive of Japan’s militarist government in decades leading up through WWII. See critique by Brian Victoria (see below in “Critics of Zen” for references).


Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan Qinggui (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii, 2002). Rev. Yifa, a scholarly Chán abbess, examines the Chanyuan Qinggui written by Changlu Zongze in 1103, the oldest comprehensive code produced by and for Chán monasteries, and the one which was still influencing the Chán monasteries of the 20th century Republican era in China and the recently revived Chán monasteries since the 1980s, as well as influencing the Seon/Zen training centers in South Korea and Japan for many centuries. Rev. Yifa shows how such Chán monastic regulations drafted in Song dynastic era were still very much rooted in the old Vinaya rules and the related commentary literature of India and China, and these regulations incorporate commonly shared Buddhist mores and Chinese customs already long worked out over the previous centuries. In other words, in support of a larger point previously made by scholars T. Griffith Foulk and others, and contradicting a long-held idea, there was nothing distinctly “revolutionary” about Chán monastic regulations.


Yifa, Sisters of the Buddha: Women’s Roles in Buddhism Through the Centuries (Hacienda Heights, CA: Lantern, 2003). Rev. Yifa is a nun since 1979 of the Fo Guang Shan religious order founded by the Ven. Hsing-yun in Taiwan. With a PhD in religious studies from Yale University in 1996, she has been provost at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist College and dean at Hsi Lai University in California and Taiwan. This book is valuable for its insights from a nun’s viewpoint within the tradition. See also Rev. Yifa’s books The Tender Heart, A Buddhist Response to Suffering (Lantern, 2007) and Authenticity, Clearing the Junk (Lantern, 2007), which bring Yifa and Hsing-yun’s “engaged” Chán sensibility to modern readers, advocating the Buddha’s right mindfulness, empathetic compassion, simplicity, authenticity and other virtues.


Yin Kuang, Pure-land Zen, Zen Pure-land: Letters From Patriarch Yin Kuang, Thich Thien Tam, Tr., Forrest Smith, Ed. (NY: Sutra Translation Committee of the USA & Canada, 1993). By the remarkable reformer Yinguang (1861-1940), abbot of Lingyan-si, China’s premiere Pure Land Buddhist practice center in the Republican era, founded back in 503 CE on Lingyan-shan southwest of Suzhou; Yinguang and the Lingyan-si were discussed in Holmes Welch, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900-1950 (pp. 90-100); practitioners devoutly focused for long hours each day on vocal Name-recitation and inward contemplation of Amítuófo’s Buddha-nature. By the late 1940s, 150-200 monks were in permanent residence, with many visiting monastics and laity invited into Lingyan-si’s routines—typical of the inclusive Pure Land spirit.


Yü, Chün-fang, The Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-hung and the Late Ming Synthesis (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1981). Erudite work on a period of Chinese Buddhism usually neglected by those more interested in early Chán or Japanese Zen. The monk Zhuyong (Chu-hung; 1535-1615) was, along with his junior contemporaries Hanshan and Zibo, one of the great reformers of Buddhism in the late Ming dynasty (1369-1644). He beautifully blended Chán and Pure Land (Jingtu) devotional Buddhism in a lofty nondual inquiry into the One Mind, helped integrate the laity into a deeper form of Buddhism, promoted a neo-Confucian moral rectitude among the people and upheld the pure vinaya discipline at his monastery on Mt. Yungqi. He also strongly campaigned for vegan eating and kindness to animals, rebutting the callous views of early Jesuit missionaries like Matteo Ricci. See, too, J.C. Cleary, Tr., Pure Land, Pure Mind: The Buddhism of Masters Chu-hung and Tsung-pen, Foreword, Notes & Glossary by Van Hien Study Group (NY: Sutra Translation Committee of the USA & Canada, 1994), with substantial teachings and letters from Zhuyong; available online at See also Chün-fang Yü’s essay “Ming Buddhism,” in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 8, part 2, 1368-1644, Denis Twitchett & Frederick Mote, Eds. (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 893-952.


Yü, Chün-fang, Ta-hui Tsung-kao and Kung-an Chan,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 6 (1979): 211-235, archived at An excellent article on Dahui Zonggao and several aspects of his kanhua Chan approach of working with the “critical question” or hua-tou.


Yuanmei, I Don’t Bow to Buddhas: Selected Poems of Yuan Mei, J.P. Seaton, Tr. (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1996). Yuanmei (1716-98), “last great poet of classical Chinese tradition and perhaps the most popular Chinese poet in the 2,500 years of the tradition,” as Seaton explains in his introduction, was a bisexual lay family man who aced the civil service exams in youth, became a top official, then at age 36 retired early to his home in Nanjing in protest against the Manchus. He wrote witty and soulful tracts on different topics (including justice for the poor, democracy, and food) and was extraordinarily influential as a poet, poetry teacher and literary critic. He also promoted women’s rights and women poets (and banned poets), making him a subversive feminist who angered the patriarchal elements of society. A collector and editor of tales of the supernatural, he was a religious skeptic (critical of folk religion superstitions) yet deeply inspired by Chán and Daoist traditions.


Yuanwu, Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu, T. & J.C. Cleary, Tr. (Shambhala, 1994). Yuanwu Keqin (1063-1135), Dahui’s teacher, was the famed commentator (in Biyan lu) on Xuedou’s anthology of 100 koans on the sayings/doings of early Chán adepts.


Zhaozhou, The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu, James Green, Tr. & Introd. (Boston: Shambhala, 1998). Zhaozhou (Chao-chou; 778?-897; Jap.: Joshu) and Lin-ji (d.866) were considered the two great masters of “North of the River Zen.” This book translates the Zhaozhou Chanshi yulu, which, like all these yulu “Records,” was compiled and heavily edited in the Song dynasty, yet purported to be the accurate account of the sayings and doings of this Tang dynasty teacher.


Zibo Zhenke, Zibo: The Last Great Zen Master of China, J.C. Cleary, Tr. (Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1989). Tzu-pai (Zibo) (1543-1604), along with his friend Hanshan Deqing (the “other last great Chan/Zen master of China” before the modern era’s Xuyun/Hsu-yun) and their elder contemporary Yunqi Zhuhong, restored the deep spirit of Chán Buddhism late in the Ming dynasty (1369-1643) before Zibo was killed by the unjust rulers he bravely protested. Cleary provides nearly 60 pages of introduction and biography (based on Hanshan’s biography of Zibo) and nearly 80 pages of Zibo’s teachings.



Critics of a Co-opted Japanese Zen

Some important books and essays since the mid-1990s have gone beyond the usual kind of scholarly revisionism, demythologizing, and deconstructive criticism to level much more serious charges against Japanese Zen, specifically: 1) that numerous supposedly “fully enlightened” Zen “masters”—along with most other Japanese religious leaders of the era—were not just complicit but even enthusiastically, fanatically supportive of Japan’s imperial fascism, aggressive occupations of other countries and brutal wars from the late 1800s through World War II; and 2) Zen’s transmission to the West has involved no small amount of corrupt or venal behavior on the part of supposedly “enlightened” “masters” and their “enlightened” disciples to whom dharma-transmission has been given. The following books and articles are crucial reading on these two topics.


Victoria, Brian (Daizen), Zen at War (NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2nd ed., 2006; orig. publ. 1997); and Zen War Stories (NY/London: Routledge/Curzon, 2003). Victoria, now famous in Zen circles for his scathing criticism of an entire generation of modern-era Japanese Zennists, powerfully indicts numerous Japanese religious leaders’ (Shintō and Buddhist) support for the State in the Japanese belligerent, ruthless occupations of the Asian mainland in the late 1800s onward up through their fanatically bellicose behavior leading to World War II. Some of this religious support for imperial greed and war can be seen to come from strong political and economic pressures to be as “loyal” to the State as modeled by the new State Shintō imperialist cult. The fascist regime also co-opted Japanese Buddhist thought in the education of its soldiers—especially co-opting Zen thought, with its easily exploited paradoxes and Absolute-truth-level teachings trumping conventional morality. These two books by Brian Daizen Victoria notably expose the right-wing, pro-war, ultra-nationalist, anti-communist views of Zen “masters” otherwise highly regard among western Zennists such as Haku’un Yasutani (1884-1973), his teacher Harada Sogaku (1871-1961), Omori Sogen (1904-94), Kumazawa Taizen, Shaku Soen (1860-1919) and his famous student D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966), Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965), Yamada Mumon (1900-88) and other Senseis/teachers. Victoria ordained as a Zen priest in 1964, trained at the formidable chief Soto monastery, Eiheiji, and underwent graduate studies at the Soto-run Komazawa University. Some of his scholarship and impartiality has come under severe attack from Japanese-speaking scholars and Zennists (e.g., see Kemmyo Taira Sato’s strong critique of Victoria’s handling of D.T. Suzuki and other recent articles critical of Victoria in The Eastern Buddhist), but Victoria’s overall arguments and most of his particular cases still hold, even if he has deliberately misquoted or slanted the context for some of these Zen figures’ words or occasionally relied on dubious sources for his quotes, e.g., rabid Japanese newspapers during the height of World War II. (See, for instance, the critique by Antaiji Zen monastery abbot Muho Noelke on how Victoria misrepresents Kodo Sawaki Roshi on occasion, though some of Victoria’s other critiques of Sawaki stand as persuasive.) Especially in his second book, Zen War Stories, Victoria shows that Zen teachings played a central role in instilling the military ethos and offering moral support to the military. As he writes, “Japanese military leaders deliberately set out to inculcate a Zen-inspired attitude in Japanese troops as they raped and pillaged their way through Asia from 1931 to 1945, killing between 10 and 20 million men, women and children. This was done with the complete and unconditional support of [nearly] all Japan’s Zen leaders.” Such disturbing revelations make it all the more imperative that spiritual aspirants and so-called “enlightened masters” remember the basic Buddhist moral precepts, honor the “conventional truth level” of everyday life, be courageous in facing up to their own cognitive dissonance, and be tremendously careful to avoid spinelessly falling in with authoritarian groupthink and propaganda, narrowly identifying with a religious or political cause, and denying, turning away from or cleverly rationalizing the major crimes and gross injustices that happen around us in our local communities or larger-world community.

Heisig, James, and John Maraldo, Ed., Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (Honolulu: Kuroda Institute / Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1995). Essays by several scholars on how Japanese Zen and the Kyoto School of Zen-influenced philosophers sided with the Imperialist Shintō militaristic nationalism/fascism in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century.


Lachs, Stuart, “Coming Down from the Zen Clouds: A Critique of the Current State of American Zen” (1994), “Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch’an /Zen Buddhism in America” (1999), “The Zen Master in America: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves” (2006). These and several other essays and interviews by Lachs critical of individuals and forms of institutionalism gone wrong in the transmission of Zen in Japan and especially within particular circles of practice in the USA are archived at See also an extensive interview from Aug. 26, 2010 at which, in part, speaks of the meaninglessness of the “Dharma-transmission” idea in the context of too many Zen centers and the unnatural pressures it creates for both teachers and students.


Loy, David, “Is Zen Buddhism?” The Eastern Buddhist, 28.2 (Autumn 1995): 273-286. On how Japanese Zen in many ways got co-opted by the state and lost the independence and moral courage as found in the life of the Buddha. Online at: See also his excellent review of Brian Victoria’s Zen at War (1997 ed.), at, where Loy concludes, “we need to begin considering the various implications of this complicity [of Japanese Buddhism, especially Zen, being complicit with Japan’s imperialist state]. For example: if Buddhist awakening truly overcomes our delusions, why didn’t it do a better job of inoculating against ultranationalist propaganda? From its beginnings in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Zen was compromised by its samurai patronage, but the roots of the problem go all the way back to the emperor Kimmei (539-71), who allowed Buddhism into Japan because he recognized that ‘it would be of service to him.’ Buddhism never subsequently escaped state control, and however transcendental Buddhist liberation may have been in other cultures (a controversial point), it was kept very down to earth in Japan, which accepted desires as natural and used egolessness to promote social integration and deference to authority. We need to reflect further on how compatible Japanese Buddhism is with its Indian origins”—e.g., in terms of its adherence to the basic Buddhist precepts of no killing, no stealing, no lying, etc.


Sharf, Robert, "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism," in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995), pp. 107-160. An earlier version appeared in History of Religions, 33.1 (1993): 1-43. “Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited,” in Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (Nanzan Studies in Religion and Culture), edited by James W. Heisig & John Maraldo (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1995), pp. 40-51. Both these articles touch on many topics that within a few years would also be written about and documented by Brian Victoria (see above). See also R. Sharf, “Sanbōkyōdan: Zen and the Way of the New Religions,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22, no. 3-4: Special Edition: The New Age in Japan, edited by Haga Manabu and Robert Kisala (1995), pp. 417-458—a critique of the Harada-Yasutani lineage and their Sanbokyodan Zen offshoot movement, which, though only a very minor sect in Japan, heavily influenced American and German enactments of Zen Buddhism. The reader can access these articles and several other articles and book reviews at Sharf’s website:

Brear, A.D., “The nature and status of moral behavior in Zen Buddhist tradition,” Philosophy East & West, 24 (1974): 429-41, available at One of several essays which arose in the decades before Sharf, Victoria, and Loy raised their sharply pointed questions and critiques, showing that in fact Zen Buddhist tradition and teachers like Dogen had very strong things to say about the need to keep the precepts, live an impeccable morality, and practice compassion at every turn. Articles like Brear’s show that Zen itself is not the problem when it comes to imperialist aggression and corrupt forms of dharma-transmission—but rather how individuals interpret Zen and fail to live up to its own lofty standards.


Hubbard, Jamie & Paul Swanson, Eds., Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm Over Critical Buddhism (Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1997). On the Hihan Bukkyo or Critical Buddhism movement which has forcefully argued that Zen has developed in such a way as to not represent Buddhism, but another kind of teaching.


Heine, Steven, Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007). Heine’s volume attempts to reconcile scholarly thinkers of the Critical Buddhism (Hihan Bukkyo) movement and the Zen traditionalists on many issues that have divided them in recent decades.




Zen Books by Western Religionists

Initial work to introduce Zen and Christianity happened through the efforts of 1) missionary Rinzai Zen priest and scholar D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966) in his books from the early 1930s onward, and then especially his Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist, first published in 1957, showing the great similarity in spirit between Zen and influential German Catholic mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-1327?); 2) Christmas Humphreys (1901-83), British barrister, Theosophist and head of the Buddhist Society in London (renamed in 1943, formerly it was the Mahabodhi Society from the mid-1920s), and author of the 1949 book, Zen Buddhism, largely a rehash of D.T. Suzuki and Humphreys’ study of Theravada Buddhism; his more mature work is A Western Approach to Zen (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publ. House, 1972); and 3) the eloquent popularizer Alan Watts (1915-73); a British immigrant to the USA, he regurgitated “Suzuki-Zen” in a precocious 1935 publication, The Spirit of Zen (rev. ed., 1958), then became an ordained Episcopalian priest and chaplain to Northwestern University in the late 1940s, and then, in the San Francisco area from 1951 onward, strongly influenced Americans (including the Beat poets) and Europeans interested in eastern religions with his several books, films, radio programs and many lectures on Zen, Daoism and Vedanta, including especially The Way of Zen in 1968 and This Is It in 1962, including his essay “Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen.”


In time, there emerged several works on Zen authored by westerners much more deeply committed to the Western Judeo-Christian tradition than Humphreys or Watts. These works are valuable for seeing at even greater depth how Zen relates to the Western traditions. These books include, by order of first publication for each author:


Hugo M. Enomiya-Lassalle, Zen: A Way to Enlightenment (1958) and Zen Meditation for Christians (LaSalle, IL: Open Court Publ., 1974). Jesuit priest Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle (1898-1991) was a student of Harada Roshi, founder of the Rinzai-Soto Zen offshoot group Sanbō Kyōdan, as well as a student of Yasutani and Yamada Kōun, the two successive heads of Sanbō Kyōdan after Harada; Enomiya Lassalle was certified as a Zen teacher in the late 1960s and his prestige brought many Catholic priests, monks and nuns and other westerners to the study of Sanbō Kyōdan-style Zen in a Christian context in Europe when he started hosting the first Zen sesshin retreats in Germany.


Graham, Dom Aelred, Zen Catholicism (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1963), and Conversations: Christian and Buddhist, Encounters in Japan (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1968). Interesting, rather neglected works by Fr. Aelred, a British Benedictine Catholic priest who lived from 1907 to 1984. Prior of the Portsmouth Priory in Rhode Island fom 1951 to 1967 he then traveled to Asia, befriending the Dalai Lama, and learning more of Zen until he returned to England for pastoral duties.


Merton, Thomas, Mystics and Zen Masters (NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1967); Zen & the Birds of Appetite (NY: New Directions, 1968). By the famous American Catholic Trappist monk Merton (1915-68), who dialogued in correspondence with D.T. Suzuki and other Zennists, including the Christian Zen adept Fr. William Johnston, who first opened Merton’s mind to the Zen tradition in 1965.


Johnston, William, Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism (NY: Fordham Univ. Press, 1971) and Christian Zen, (NY: Harper Colophon Books, 1971). These and other books on mysticism, including his autobiography Mystical Journey (2006) were  authored by the Irish Jesuit Catholic priest Johnston (1925-2010), who was posted as a missionary to Japan in 1951; after learning Japanese in two years, he taught at Sophia University in Tokyo and in the mid-1950s began to train in Zen as an ecumenical experiment. After an interlude in Europe and USA for about two years, he returned to Japan and Sophia Univ. in 1960, where he lived most of the rest of his life in between teaching and preaching duties in Europe, the USA, Australia, China and the Philippines. He introduced Thomas Merton to Zen in 1965, and spread Zen meditation practice as a possible avenue for Christian mystical renewal in the spirit of openness toward other faiths officially promoted by the Vatican II Council (1962-5). This helped usher in a Catholic Zen boom in the 1970s and 1980s, until enthusiasm for the burgeoning movement was somewhat stifled after being targeted by the Vatican in 1989 along with practice of other eastern religions by Catholics. “Catholic Zen” was pressured especially in 2002, when Cardinal Ratzinger (later becoming Pope Benedict XVI from 2005-2013) tried to silence Europe’s Fr. Willigis Jager (see below). Johnston’s legacy continues to live on among those inspired by his ecumenical spirit and in-depth training in Zen.


Jager, Willigis, Contemplation: A Christian Path (1994), Search for the Meaning of Life: Essays and Reflections on the Mystical Experience (2003). Fr. Willigis Jager (1925- ), is a German Benedictine priest who, like Enomiya-Lassalle and others, trained in Sanbō Kyōdan-style Zen in Japan and subsequently became a major “Christian Zen” teacher in Austria and Europe; he founded the spiritual center Benediktushof in Holzkirchen, where he lives and works; in 2002 he was ordered by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to cease all public activity, but this has not stopped him from teaching as part of his School of Contemplation.


Heifetz, Harold, Ed., Zen and Hasidism (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1978). Interesting essays from both traditions.


Kennedy, Robert E., Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit: The Place of Zen in Christian Life (NY: Continuum, 1995). By another student of the Sanbō Kyōdan form of Zen.


Lew, Alan, One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi (NY: Kodansha, 1999).


Chetwynd, Tom, Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven: Reflections on the Tradition of Meditation in Christianity and Zen Buddhism (Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2001), a more recent title, looking at convergences and divergences.




One can add to this the list of books, too numerous to give in detail, concerned with the subject of applying the Zen awareness to various aspects of living. These include Zen martial arts, Zen running, Zen driving, Zen seeing, Zen tennis, Zen cooking, and so on. There may even be a book on the Zen of preparing bibliographies.