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Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy [Paperback]

Katsuki Sekida
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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ZEN Training: Methods and Philosophy (Shambhala Classics) ZEN Training: Methods and Philosophy (Shambhala Classics) 4.4 out of 5 stars (9)
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Book Description

1 Dec 1975
First published in 1975, Zen Training has become a classic of Zen literature. It was one of the first books to demystify religion without debunking it, to explain hitherto esoteric practices in lucid, everyday terms. It offers concrete guidelines for practicing zazen, seated meditation. Posture, breathing, the function of the abdominal muscles, muscle tone, and the mechanisms of wakefulness and attention are clearly and scientifically explained, so that one learns what actually happens in doing zazen, why it leads to certain psychological experiences, and what their significance is. There is also a chapter on koans that goes far to clarify what for many has seemed one of the most frustrating and baffling aspects of Zen. Again, the reader is told how actually to deal with koans and how they operate as catalysts of enlightenment. The author also draws many significant parallels between Zen and Western philosophy and psychology, comparing traditional Zen concepts with the theories of being and cognition of such thinkers as Heidegger and Husserl. Zen Training marked a turning point in Zen literature in its critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience called kensho, which the author believes has often been emphasized at the expense of other important aspects of Zen training. The aim of zazen is seen not as the achievement of such experiences as satori or kensho but as the attainment of absolute samadhi, that condition of utters stillness in which thought is cut off, the mind is empty, yet one is in a state of extreme wakefulness and awareness. Absolute samadhi is considered the precondition of any kensho experience of lasting value, and indeed as "the foundation of all Zen activities." This book also goes beyond the earlier stages of Zen training to describe the more advanced stages: what happens after kensho, and above all, how one lives as well as trains in Zen.

Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Weatherhill (1 Dec 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0834801140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0834801141
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent manual for meditation 8 Dec 2005
By A Customer
One of the best and most under-rated books on zen and meditation, this book is a rare find because it is true to the real meaning of zen: which is that if you sit you will realise everything for yourself, and almost everything else is a distraction. This is a truly great book about 'how' to meditate.
You just know when you read this that the author is not speculating at any point - he has sat and realised everything that he is writing about. There is no second-hand knowledge or regurgitation of other people's ideas. When I bought this over ten years ago, it was a breath of fresh air - most of the other books I had read were just 'background' to Buddhism (e.g. Christmas Humphreys books), rather than 'how to' books.
One anecdote about this book that shows how factual it is... I was reading the book and gave up when it started talking about ichi-nen thought etc because it seemed so complex. Then when I was sitting I saw clearly how thoughts are linked so I thought I would draw a diagram. Then I looked back at this book - it had almost exactly the same diagram!
Can't recommend it highly enough...
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
A personal, analytical look at what you could call the mechanisms of Zen training. The author examines sitting posture, offers advice on breathing patterns that will help on the path towards kensho, and acts as a friendly, but intensely disciplined and experienced advisor to the student. Although zen is a mystical experience, this work is almost completely uncoloured by religion, and doesn't overwhelm the reader with apparently cryptic anecdotes which he's not yet ready to encounter. Sekida does discuss koans, but firmly within the context of their purpose in breaking the chains of thought and self. A chapter on "Laughter and Zen" draws comparisons between the release of internal pressure that laughter and kensho both signal: "Internal pressure is ego, and laughter is the cancellation of ego." Towards the end of the book, Sekida opens himself up in a personal narrative showing how zen can grow from seeds sown at any age (his first experience of kensho was during calligraphy classes when he was a child), and how he moved away from and back into zen practice, as every student does. A final chaper, "Stages in Zen Training" includes a gentle illustration of the Ten Ox-herding pictures ... "Until yesterday you took great pains to develop the solemn state of absolute samdhi and fiercely checked all activity of consciousness. Now you let consciousness gaily open into full bloom." A very helpful book for those sitting, or thinking of sitting, zen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen Training 16 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This has to be the best book I've ever come across on Zen meditation practices. It gives the physiological effects as well as the mental side. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to take up meditation as a means of relieving stress and for better physical health. It's not the answer for all ills by any means, but over time the effects of meditation are positive, and this book is the best start you could have. It's also ideal for dipping into now and then to remind yourself of why you are here. Highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, wonderful book. 12 Oct 2004
I first read this book in 1975, and in those days finding books on esoteric subjects was highly unsusual. On the rare occasions when one did, they were of the mystical variety - "Open the thousand-petalled lotus and raise the serpent to the next chakra." OK, sure thing, but how do I do that. Mr. Sekida's book is written for the westerner who wants to know how but has no personal access to a guru or master to show him. In may ways a forerunner of writers like Master Mantak Chia and Master Yang Ywing-Ming who have published detailed descriptions of Chinese Internal Alchemy and other Taoist Arts, this book guides you through the "how" of sitting in Zazen in detail without losing the mystery and wonder of what is an intensely personal experience. Just writing this review brings me fond memories of the doors which this book opened for me and my eternal gratitude to Mr Sekida. I must pick up my dog-eared copy again, light a candle, ring the prayer bell and continue the quest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home study program. 22 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
ekida expains in detail the methods of zazen that that have led countless individuals to samadhi, and later,to Kensho and beyond. Many readers may find this book slow and methodical at first as he explains in detail, the different methods of breathing in zazen and the physiological affects these techniques have on the body. However, please don't lose heart because as you progress you will find all this is for a reason as it's the foundation you will need. Think of this book as training program in which you need to study the "boring" aspects of your art in order to perfect it later.
As a westerner I know all to well a large majority of us our not able to meet a spiritual teacher in our busy lives let alone search for one, but if you are reading this you have found Katsuki Sekida and if you embrace his advice wholeheartedly you won't go wrong. It will take time but don't give up as this book is truly a gift to the westerner if you follow it with precision.
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