Opening a Mountain
Koans of the Zen Masters
By (author) Steven Heine
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Opening a Mountain by Steven Heine
Book DescriptionWith the growing popularity of Zen Buddhism in the West, virtually everyone knows, or thinks they know, what a koan is: a brief and baffling question or statement that cannot be solved by the logical mind and which, after sustained concentration, can lead to sudden enlightenment. But the truth about koans is both simpler-and more complicated-than this. In Opening a Mountain, Steven Heine shows that koans, and the questions we associate with them-such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"-are embedded in larger narratives and belong to an ancient Buddhist tradition of "encounter dialogues." These dialogues feature dramatic and often inscrutable contests between masters and disciples, or between masters and an array of natural and supernatural forces: rouge priests, "wild foxes," hermits, wizards, shapeshifters, magical animals, and dangerous women. To establish a new monastery, "to open a mountain," the Zen master had to tame these wild forces in regions most remote from civilization. In these extraordinary encounters, fingers and arms are cut off, pitchers are kicked over, masters appear in and interpret each other's dreams, and seemingly absurd statements are shown to reveal the deepest insights. Heine restores these koans to their original traditions, allowing readers to see both the complex elements of Chinese culture and religion that they reflect and the role they played in Zen's transformation of local superstitions into its own teachings. Offering a fresh approach to one of the most crucial elements of Zen Buddhism, Opening a Mountain is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the full story behind koans and the mysterious worlds they come from.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780195174342
(228mm x 145mm x 16mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 18-Mar-2004
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Steven Heine
Dogen and Soto Zen, Paperback (June 2015)
This follow up to Dogen: Textual and Historical Studies (OUP 2012) explores diverse aspects of the life and teachings of Zen master Dogen, the founder of the Soto Zen sect (Sotoshu) in early Kamakura-era Japan.
Like Cats and Dogs, Paperback (December 2013)
Steven Heine offers a compelling examination of the Mu Koan, widely considered to be the single best known and most widely circulated and transmitted koan record of the Zen school of Buddhism.
Dogen, Hardback (March 2012)» View all books by Steven Heine
In this groundbreaking collection of essays edited by Steven Heine, leading scholars of Buddhism from both sides of the Pacific explore the life and thought of Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253), the founder of the Japanese Soto sect.
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Author Biography - Steven Heine
Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History at books on Zen Buddhism, including (with Dale S. Wright) The Koan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism (OUP). He lives in Hollywood, Florida.
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