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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Zen Experience
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2013
I tend to avoid writing book reviews, the experience of a book is often too subjective for them to be meaningful, however in this instance I am going to make an exception. This is a very good book, a very good read, and absolutely astonishing considering it costs nothing. If you are interested in the history of Zen, or Chinese/Japanese buddhism in general, or even simply curious, then download this book now. The narrative flows easily, never becoming turgid or technical, and the author's knowledge of the subject is readily apparent. I am sure that if you are in one "camp" or other within the buddhist community some of his opinions may be contentious, but for an outsider's or layman's view of the subject this is as good as any I have read. You lose nothing by giving it a read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2012
I`ve always loved reading about zen,and although i`ve read many books on the subject,this one is for me superb. i have every intention of reading it again from the beginning excellent zen material,and some new stuff as well.Up there with the best for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2012
This is an amazing piece of work combining anecdotal evidence and history of Ch'an/Zen Buddhism. I have been hooked to this book ever since I received it. Surely this work is a must for any person interested in the history and thinkers - or is that non-thinkers? - behind Ch'an thought,or no-thought, as the case may be. Anyway, I recommend this to anyone interested in Buddhism, philosophy, Daoism and religious history. It has been a long time since a book has had me this engrossed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2013
Wasn't sure what to expect from this book and i must say i was very pleasantly surprised. Excellent history of how Zen came to be, from its origins in Indian buddhism, through China becoming ch'an then onto Japan to finally becoming Zen. With excellent collections of mini stories of masters along the way you really get a feeling of comfort, wisdom and amusement. Mr Hoover has fitted this all together nicely into a fascinating read. highly recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2013
Well written, and very informative, giving an in depth history of how Zen arose and progressed. Background information about China and Japan are interesting too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2013
Lovely combination of a philosophies history, interior adaptations and social relevance. With some well chosen stories and folklore which really capture your imagination and inspire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2014
This is a wonderful book. It is warm, almost conversational at times, and exudes the author's passion for his subject. Each Master accounted for is brought to life with such affection. Occasionally sweeping statements are made about periods or sects of Buddhism or Chinese and Japanese culture, however this does not detract from the enjoyment I got from reading this book.
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on 26 March 2014
this is a great book, not what I imagined it would be but actually turned out a lot better. A great history of Zen with very interesting anecdotes and some eye opening dialogue passed down through the ages. It raised many questions for me by way of Zen history and just how easily it is for original ideas, beliefs to become corrupted and change over time as things are bent for political or cultural purposes BUT Zen has survived and developed in some ways after all there is not set way, one must follow the signs and forge ones own path and this book definitely helps as a guide, I would consider myself a beginner in terms of Zen but not in terms of Buddhist belief and ways. It has definitely made me want to travel further and I am already looking at writings by some of the great masters mentioned within. A great scholarly piece of work but I found it very accessible and expansive and it has helped me a great deal. Definately an awakening for me.
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on 11 July 2015
I would like to give this work four-and-a-half stars. Five for its history (it's very comprehensive and in-depth, so perhaps not for the beginner) and one off because I don't think it offers enough in the way of "The Zen Experience" - it's a bit 'do as I say' rather than 'do as I do'. Still, for the fantastic coverage that you do get, I think it would be rather unfair of me to give it "only" four stars.
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on 13 September 2014
This is a very good book, it gives a good historical account of the development of Ch'an (zen) Buddism, the Patrirachs and some of their inspirational words. I will need to re-read it as there is some quite detailed information contained within its pages, not all of which stuck, first time around. A tome of immeasurable wisdom that re-enforces the value of intuition over logic. Paul Hiom (partner of M Bailey).
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