ZEN: Tradition and Transition by Kenneth--Ed. Kraft

ZEN: Tradition and Transition

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Zen has a thousand-year tradition in the East and a hundred-year history in the West. This volume of 11 essays by contemporary scholars and teachers reflects the enduring principles at the heart of Zen--and clearly formulates the difficult issues connected with transmitting these principles to a radically different culture and psyche. By engaging both teachers and scholars, editor Kraft means to put to rest the common misconception that Zen is anti-intellectual and anti-textual, and, indeed, the contributions here do demonstrate the rule that study and practice are mutually supportive. Taiwanese master Sheng-Yen's guide to zazen, American master Philip Kapleau's chapter on the one-on-one encounter with the teacher central to Zen training, and master Eido Shimano's on the koan system all combine personal insight with a deeply informed appreciation of traditional precedent and context. Essays by Philip Yampolsky, Burton Watson, and John R. McRae--on the Status of Zen in modern Japan, the role of poetry, and the issue of historical veracity--are works of scholarship that illuminate questions of concern to Western Zen students today. After the boom times in the 60's and 70's, Kraft says, Zen now finds itself ""swimming against the tides. . .stuggling to stay afloat."" Yet in spite of the troubles within Zen communities and a less welcoming environment outside them, this book is convincing evidence that while the movement is troubled, there is an alive and responsible group at its core. Many of the contributors are Zen practitioners, and all of them have undergone some training. This involvement gives the book a real coherence--it stands as a whole because the writers care about their subject and are committed to the search for a ""new Buddhism, authentic in spirit and responsive to Western realities.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Grove