Recommended Introductory Reading
1. Aitken, Robert. Taking the Path of Zen.
2. Batchelor, Martine. Way of Zen.
3. Maezumi and Glassman. On Zen Practice: Body, Breath, and Mind.
4. Beck, Charlotte Joko. Everyday Zen.
5. Suzuki, Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
6. Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought.
7. Kapleau, Philip, ed. Three Pillars of Zen.
8. Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha's Teaching and Old Path, White Cloud.
Key Ancient Texts1. The Diamond Sutra (trans. with commentary by Red Pine. See also: trans. with commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh as The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion.)
2. Vimalakirti Sutra, trans. Burton Watson.
3. Lankavatara Sutra, trans. Red Pine.
4. Surangama Sutra, trans. Buddhist Text Translation Society.
5. The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, trans. Red Pine.
6. The Platform Sutra of Huineng, trans. Red Pine.
7. The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind, trans. John Blofeld.
8. The Record of Linji, trans. Jeffrey Broughton
9. The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu [Zhaozhou], trans. James Green.
10. Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen.
Precepts Study1. Loori, John Daido. The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism.
2. Aitken, Robert. The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics.
3. Anderson, Reb. Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts.
4. Rizzetto, Diane Eshin. Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion.
5. Glassman, Bernie. Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen.
Koan CollectionsGateless Gate -- a.k.a. Wumenguan (Chinese, Pinyin), Wu-men-kuan (Chinese, Wade-Giles), Mumonkan (Japanese)
Blue Cliff Record -- a.k.a. Biyan Lu (Chinese, Pinyin), Pi-yen Lu (Chinese, Wade-Giles), Hekiganroku (Japanese)
Book of Serenity -- a.k.a. Book of Equanimity, Congrong Lu (Chinese, Pinyin), Ts'ung-jung Lu (Chinese, Wade-Giles), Shoyoroku (Japanese)
A Quarterly Study PlanThe texts listed here are worth re-visiting, over and over. They are arranged here for the 13 weeks in a season. Books to acquire:
Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, ed. by Kazuaki Tanahashi
Susan Murcott, First Buddhist Women
Beata Grant, Daughters of Emptiness
Grace Schireson, Zen Women
All the other texts are available through the links provided.
As one approach, commit yourself to a half-hour a day of dharma study, during which you read the indicated texts for the week. Don't expect to finish the week's reading before the week is up. When the week ends, mark your place. Next time through the quarterly sequence -- in 3 months -- pick up where you left off. In the case of Weeks 8-10, mark your place at the end of Week 10, and pick up where you left off the next time Week 8 comes around.
If you don't understand what you're reading, that's not a problem. You needn’t expect to understand, especially at first. Maybe you’ll never feel you understand, but that doesn’t mean the study has no value. Make what sense of it you can, even if it’s very little, and keep going. Trust that as you return to a given text, over and over, it will gradually begin to reveal something of itself.
Each week begins on the Monday closest to the date shown.*
Week 1: Mar 22, Jun 21, Sep 21, Dec 21.Dhammapada, 3rd-century BCE, (tr. Thanissaro Bhikkhu)(10.0K)
Susan Murcott, First Buddhist Women
Vimalakirti Sutra, ca. 100 CE, (tr. John McRae).
Week 2: Mar 29, Jun 28, Sep 28, Dec 28.Lankavatara Sutra, ca. 350 CE, (tr. Red Pines).
Week 3: Apr 5, Jul 5, Oct 5, Jan 4.Diamond Sutra, Kumarajiva version 401 CE, (tr. Red Pine). (8.3K).
Bodhidharma (440?-536?), The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. (13.3K).
Platform Sutra, ca. 780, (tr. Red Pine). (15.3K).
Week 4: Apr 12, Jul 12, Oct 12, Jan 11.Mazu (709-788), The Record of Mazu, (tr. Poceski); and Huangbo (766-850), Chuanxinfayao and Wanling Lu, (tr. Blofeld). Mazu + Huangbo. (31.7K)
Week 5: Apr 19, Jul 19, Oct 19, Jan 18.Zhaozhou (778-897), The Record of Zhaozhou, pp. 13-160
Week 6: Apr 26, Jul 26, Oct 26, Jan 25.Linji (812-866), The Record of Linji, tr. Ruth Fuller Sasaki, “Discourses.” (13.1K).
Week 7: May 3, Aug 2, Nov 2, Feb 1.Beata Grant, Daughters of Emptiness
Hongzhi (1091-1157), Cultivating the Empty Field. (11.9K).
Week 8: May 10, Aug 9, Nov 9, Feb 8.Seiran (1845-1918), “Shushogi” (2.9K). Start on Moon in a Dewdrop, pp. 29-210.
Week 9: May 17, Aug 16, Nov 16, Feb 15.Continue Moon in a Dewdrop, pp. 29-210.
Week 10: May 24, Aug 23, Nov 23, Feb 22.Continue Moon in a Dewdrop, pp. 29-210.
Week 11: May 31, Aug 31, Nov 30, Mar 1.Bassui (1327-1387), Mud and Water, (tr. Arthur Braverman). (36.0K).
Bankei (1622-1693), Bankei Zen, tr. Peter Haskel. (36.1K).
Week 12: Jun 7, Sep 7, Dec 7, Mar 8.Grace Schireson, Zen Women.
Hakuin (1686-1769), The Four Ways of Knowing. (2.9K)
Hakuin, Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin's Commentary on the Heart Sutra.
Week 13: Jun 14, Sep 14, Dec 14, Mar 15Hakuin (1686-1769), The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin, tr. Norman Waddell. (36.6K).
*If, however, Aug 27 (or, in a leap year, Feb 26) falls on a Monday, that's an "extra week" -- a "wild card." Spend that week further reading (or re-reading) whichever one of the texts calls to you. On average, there will be one "wild card" week every 5.6 years.
* * *
Josh Bartok's reading recommendations: CLICK HERE.
Four brief, informative videos:
- How to do Zazen (seated meditation) (from AOL) -- 6:33.
- How to do Zazen (from SotoZenNet) -- 7:01.
- The Fundamentals of Zen teaching -- 9:14.
- The Fruits of Zen -- 9:32.
"Zen" means meditation, and "Za" means seated.
2. HOW TO DO ZAZEN (from Soto Zen Net)
"The truth of our life is that we are alive here now. In Zen teachings, the truth of our life is called the original self. The practice which manifests original self is zazen."
3. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ZEN
Helen Cortes, assistant teacher at Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, narrates this unpacking of fundamentals for Zen practice.
1. Posture: Be fully grounded, back straight. When you're sitting straight, you can breathe rightly and bring the mind to stillness. Postures include: full lotus, half lotus, quarter lotus, Burmese posture, bench, kneeling on cushions, chair. Hands: Left on top of right, thumbs lightly touching. Eyes: Half-open, half-closed. Breath: Count the exhales silently, up to 10.
2. Stilling of the mind: The monkey mind never stops. See yourself as a mountain with thoughts as clouds.
3. Kinhin (walking meditation).
4. Sit every day.
4. THE THREE FRUITS OF ZEN
The lead teacher of Maria Kannon Zen Center, Roshi Ruben Habito, describes the three fruits of zen.
1. Concentration and presence. With expanded capacity for concentration emerges a way of life that comes from the center, living in the here and now. We no longer hanker after a past, nor a future, but are at home in here and now. We are attentive and respond with alertness and spontaneity.
2. Insight. The practice yields glimpses our true nature, that is, our non-separateness, our interconnection (interbeing) with the whole universe. We realize that we are one. We no longer feel anxious or insecure, but experience unconditional love from the whole universe.
3. Compassion. Our capacity to give back to others out of peace and love grows. Our life of quiet joy and peace is a life of compassion contributing to the well-being of the world.