Good source material from the history of Zen Buddhism. Zen material will always be confusing, contradictory, seemingly mysterious. It's in the nature of the thing. Zen takes on the mysteries of life and the confusing nature of human existence. It doesn't shy away from contradictions, it seeks them out, puts them centre stage. Zen is not for the ones looking to rise above ordinary life, seeking eternal truth, or a rarefied position aloof and untouched by daily problems. The history of Zen and its teachers is as varied and complex as ordinary life. This book contains wonderful examples, like Hakuin's autobiographical writings containing the story of him trying to get a Zen master to acknowledge his enlightenment and being called a "poor hole dwelling devil".
This book lets the masters speak, and so gives access to interesting source material. It also gives the historical context and how Zen adapted to the countries and the changing times. A process that is still going on today, because Zen is a living discourse, an interaction of human mind with itself, its perception of reality, its understanding of its own existence, and of course: if it is, and how, and what is possible to experience without the limitations of the self. What better than the writings of the masters to point to the possibility of the impossible, the accessibility of the inaccessible.