THE WORLD OF ZEN by Nancy Wilson-Ed. Ross


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Zen Buddhism ""though considered a religion by its followers, has no sacred scriptures whose words are law; no fixed canon; no rigid dogma; no Savior or Divine Being through whose favor or intercession one's eventual salvation is assured."" Its ultimate enlightenment (a high degree of self-knowledge) brings with it a deep and lasting conception and comprehension of one's place in the totality of the universe. The unique quality of Zen and of all the arts which it has inspired is ""a profoundly startling simplicity. There is a complete lack of the unessential and a marvelously refreshing directness."" It is the unbending effort of Zen masters to force their students beyond the ""eternally dualistic and dialectic pattern of thinking"" through rigid discipline and the personal solving of koans -- the seemingly nonsensical philosophical riddles without logic. The preceptual basis of Zen is antithetical to philosophizing and conceptualizing; for its goal is the ""immediate, unreflected grasp of reality, without affective contamination and intellectualization, the realization of the relation of myself to the Universe."" Opening with a foreword by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Director of the First Zen Institute of America in Japan, the editor has compiled an extremely extensive and well-rounded ""anthology"" of Zen Buddhism as interpreted in the essays of more than fifteen authorities -- Western as well as Eastern -- on this much distorted subject. In addition to expounding Zen's fundamental way of life, there are individual chapters devoted to discussions of Painting, Poetry, Drama, Architecture, Science, the Tea Ceremony, and humor as influenced and developed by Zen. Comprehensive and varied, this would seem to afford one of the best insights into Zen Buddhism for the Westerner.

Pub Date: Dec. 16th, 1960
Publisher: Random House