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Zen in Plain English Paperback – 3 Aug 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Watkins Publishing LTD (3 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906787204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906787202
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 1.9 x 18.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,458,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Stephan Schuhmacher studied Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology at Cologne University and Japanology and Sinology at the Free University of West Berlin. In 1970 he went to Japan where he first continued his studies at the Jesuite Sophia University, before leaving the academic world to dedicate himself entirely to Zen practice. He worked in publishing in Germany for many years and edited and co-authored a dictionary of Eastern Wisdom that was translated in 8 languages, in English as the Shambhala/Rider Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent little book if you want a primer into the history of Zen. It explains the lineage of various masters, their names and dates (few of which, I stand the slightest chance of remembering). It's true that having read it I have a slightly better understanding of the origins of Zen but the book is certainly not anything that is described. The reason that I give the book only 3 stars is not because the author hasn't written an excellent book but because the cover descriptions mean that one ends up disappointed and frustrated. I had been promised 'Zen in Plain English' - a great title but this doesn't really talk about what Zen is. The cover also promises boldly, 'Experience the Essence of Zen' which left me wondering if whoever wrote this tag line had read the book at all. Peter Matthiessen, another author asked to review the book writes, again on the cover, says, 'a welcome return to the fundamental Dharma and the precious moment of our lives.' I would love to speak to Mr Matthiessen about this. The first 100 pages of the book contains nothing but the history of Zen but I kept reading hoping that the very erudite author Stephan Schuhmacher, would eventually talk about what Zen is given that he kept telling is that Zen isn't about the history. He does eventually give us a little Zen and some understanding about the different schools and the perils of trying to grasp Zen with the mind. But I would have liked far more on 'the essence' and far less on the history. Or to have what I was about to read correctly described in the title, subtitle and cover copy.
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Format: Paperback
I found Zen in plain English a great guide to the vast history of Chan or Zen philosophy. The history is told in a upbeat narrative interspersed with teachings and quotes from the masters.
People looking for a road map to enlightenment will be disappointed, but this book poses the same questions as many practitioners of Zen have meditated over for thousands of years. This can allow self discovery and the search for truth. Read with an open mind :-)
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Format: Paperback
Easy-ish to read - because it is mainly about the history and development of Zen. Actual Zen thinking is of course mentioned, but not enough. Shame, lovely book otherwise. Try something by Paul Reps.
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