Silent Illumination: A Chan Buddhist Path to Natural Awakening

Guo Gu. Shambhala, $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-61180-872-8
In this meticulous work, Chan Buddhism teacher Guo Gu (Passing Through the Gateless Barrier) offers a teaching on mozhao, or “silent illumination,” through new translations of and commentaries on the writings of Song dynasty master Hongzhi. Silent illumination meditation, Gu explains, is not a method to practice, a thing to acquire, or a state to attain; rather, it is a returning to the simple, natural, and lively expression of “experiencing and embodying without attachments.” Achieving this state involves four steps: exposing, embracing, transforming, and letting go of the subtle ways attachment appears in everyday experience: “to understand silent illumination is to appreciate our true nature as already free—the natural awakening of who we are.” In the final sections, he offers new translations of 25 excerpts from Hongzhi’s work that emphasizes the Chan dictum “practice is not about awakening, for that is who we already are,” but “about eradicating delusion.” Scholarly Buddhist readers will learn much from Gu’s intellectually robust yet pragmatic introduction to silent illumination Chan. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2021
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Religion
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