Subtle Wisdom

Sheng-Yen, Author, Sheng-Yen, Author, Master Sheng Yen, Author
Sheng-Yen, Author, Sheng-Yen, Author, Master Sheng Yen, Author Image $15 (160p) ISBN 978-0-385-48045-1
Reviewed on: 08/16/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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This slim work by Master Sheng-yen, a Chinese monk who received his Ph.D. from Rissho University in Japan and who currently teaches in both Taiwan and the United States, nimbly introduces the fundamental concepts of Ch'an Buddhism. Ch'an is a form of Buddhism practiced in China. Its Japanese counterpart, Zen Buddhism, is so much more familiar to American audiences that Master Sheng-Yen's translation of Chinese names and terms into Japanese provides an invaluable reference point. It is clear that the author has taught in America, as his work explains and contextualizes Ch'an/Zen Buddhist ideas and practices that often confuse students not familiar with their culture of origin. Master Sheng-yen clarifies the details of the stages of practice in clear, concise and informative terms, repeating and elaborating on vital information throughout the book. He punctuates the narrative with questions, asking the reader to ponder the meaning of each story. This technique draws the reader into the Ch'an process and conveys Master Sheng-Yen's lecture style well. Another strength of this book is the stories the author tells of his own life and spiritual path. He describes his frustrations and difficulties in seeking enlightenment as well as his 10-year stint with the Nationalist army of Taiwan. This kind of personal detail, sprinkled with touches of humor, adds to the more technical expositions of Ch'an ideas, making this book a valuable addition to any religion bookshelf. (Oct.)
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