For Further Study

by dairo tendo

Twice a year Chobo-Ji hosts an Eight Week Introductory Series. Composed of two four week sections it covers both the particulars of the form practiced here, and some of the basic thought and history of behind our practice.  This last year brought some changes to the program, updating it’s structure and goals and sketching out of a base curriculum.  In the course of this work some basic reference material was compiled.  Here is that list organized by the topics of the eight week intro series.

Texts for Further Study

Week 1

Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy
by Katsuki Sekida
Shambhala, 2005
ISBN 1590302834

Rohatsu Exhortations
Hakuin Ekaku Zenjo, translated Edio Shimano
The Zen Studies Society Press, 2006

The first week covers temple etiquette and the basic practice of zazen.  Zen Training has the most explicit, detailed yet straightforward explanation of posture, breathing and settling the mind.  Hakuin’s Rohatsu Exhortations offers encouragement in dedicated sitting and the practice and value of breathing count in Hakuin’s inimitable style.

Week 2

The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Parallax Press, 2011
ISBN: 9781935209928

The second week covers  activities that we engage in as a mindfulness practice: kinhin (walking meditation), chanting and sharing tea.  While Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice of walking meditation is pretty far from the kinhin practiced in the Rinzai tradition, the spirit is here. The practices here for occupying the mind during kinhin are universally applicable and the general practice is useful when walking on one’s own outside of formal  kinhin.

Week 4

Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings on Zen Koan Introspection 
by John Daido Loori  (Editor), Tom Kirchner (Introduction)
Wisdom Publications, 2005
ISBN: 0861713699

Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice 
by Victor Sogen Hori
University of Hawaii Press; 2010
ISBN: 0824835077

Zen Dust: The History of the Koan and Koan Study in Rinzai (Linji) Zen 
by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Isshū Miura
Quirin Press; 2nd edition (July 15, 2015)
ISBN: 1922169129

Koan Zen from the Inside (pdf)
Jeff Shore

The fourth week, which concludes the first half of the series, our abbott, Genjo Osho, teaches the nature and practice of koan study.  These four texts will give one a very thorough grounding in the history and practice of koan study in China, Japan and the US.

Week 5

In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon 
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Wisdom Publications, 2005
ISBN: 0861714911

The second half of the Intro Series covers the core teachings and history of Buddhism and Zen.  It begins with an examination of the the Four Noble Truths. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s excellent collection of the early sutra’s from the Pali Canon contain the earliest discourses where the Four Noble Truths were explicated and taught.  There truly is no better source on this material.

Week 6

The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering 
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Pariyatti Publishing. 2006
ISBN: 192870607X

The sixth week continues with early Buddhist teachings with an examination the Noble Eightfold Path.  Again the best source is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translations from the Pali Canon which contain these original teachings. Beyond that his short book explicitly on this subject explains how this essential teaching relates to the Four Noble Truths and other early teachings and how it is understood and practice contemporarily.

Week 7

The Diamond Sutra
Translation and commentary by Red Pine
Counterpoint 2002
ISBN-10: 1582432562

Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts
by Reb Anderson
Shambhala; 2000
ISBN: 1930485018

Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up 
by Norman Fischer
HarperOne; 2004
ISBN: 0060587199

The Four Great Vows (and sometimes the Ten Grave Precepts) are the topic of this week and bring in the moral core of Buddhism.  The Great vow can be found in the early Mahayana Sutra’s and is clearly and concisely explicated in The Diamond Sutra. The books by Anderson and Fischer do a very good job of examining the Vows and Precepts in terms of applying them to contemporary lives.

Week 8

Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson and Tenshin Reb Anderson
Wisdom Publications, 2011
ISBN: 0861716175

Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China
Edited and Translated by David Hinton
New Directions, 2005
ISBN-10: 0811216241

The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen
By Jeffrey L. Broughton
University of California, 1999
ISBN-10: 0520219724

Zen Masters of Japan: The Second Step East
Richard Bryan McDaniel
Tuttle Publishing, 2016
ISBN: 0804847975

Third Step East: Zen Masters of America
Richard Bryan McDaniel
Sumeru Press, 2015
ISBN: 1896559220

Like a Dream, Like a Fantasy: The Zen Teachings and Translations of Nyogen Senzaki
by Nyogen Senzaki and Eido Shimano
Wisdom Publications, 2005
ISBN-10: 0861712803

Cypress Trees in the Garden: The Second Generation of Zen Teaching in America
Richard Bryan McDaniel,
Sumeru Press, 2015
ISBN: 1896559263

The final week covered the development of Zen and it’s flowering in China, Japan and the West.  This is a large topic (too large for one week) and thus there is a lot to look at. Zen’s Chinese Heritage is a translation of several “Transmission of the Lamp” texts which covers the primary Ch’an (Zen) teachers in China. Mountain Home while a collection of Chinese poetry has a fine essay on the aspects of the Chinese character that led to Ch’an arising from Indian Buddhism. The Bodhidharma Anthology looks at the earliest development of Ch’an which was more diverse and varied than the traditional stories will lead you to believe. Zen Masters of Japan is a modern take on the “transmission of the lamp” teacher to student based history of Zen in Japan. The transmission of Zen to America is a complicated story which since it has occurred in the last hundred years or so is fairly well documented. Nyogen Sensaki was the first Zen master living and teaching in the US and often wrote about Zen in the West. McDaniel’s write’s in the Third Step East about the interstitial period and then in Cypress Trees in the Garden of American Zen teachers.