Recommended Books?

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  • Skye
    Member
    • Feb 2008
    • 234

    Recommended Books?

    Being new to Soto Zen in particular, what books would be recommended? I'm familiar with the basic philosophy and history of Therevada and Mahayana branches and common Buddhist practices. Perhaps something about or by Dogen? Something with a mix of history and practice, at an intermediate level?

    Thanks,
    Skye
    Even on one blade of grass / the cool breeze / lingers - Issa
  • will
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 2331

    #2
    deleted
    [size=85:z6oilzbt]
    To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
    To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
    To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
    To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
    [/size:z6oilzbt]

    Comment

    • Skye
      Member
      • Feb 2008
      • 234

      #3
      Thank you for the suggestion, and the reminder!

      What is the opinion on the Platform Sutra? I've seen it variously described as an essential foundation or a false hinderance, even within Soto.

      Thanks,
      Skye
      Even on one blade of grass / the cool breeze / lingers - Issa

      Comment

      • will
        Member
        • Jun 2007
        • 2331

        #4
        Thanks for the recommendation Skye. I am actually not familiar with it. Although I have heard it mentioned.

        Here is a good article about the five styles of Zen:

        http://www.wwzc.org/translations/FiveStylesofZen.htm

        Gassho Will
        [size=85:z6oilzbt]
        To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
        To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
        To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
        To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
        [/size:z6oilzbt]

        Comment

        • Jun
          Member
          • Jun 2007
          • 236

          #5
          What is the opinion on the Platform Sutra?
          Sutras express various levels of understanding and various takes on the teachings. They are to be seen as tools, tools to understanding from many points of view.

          I would be cautious of any particular sect telling you which sutras to read and which to ignore.

          In order to remain viable, the teachings were (are) often re-expressed in the idiom of the times.

          Buddhism is not a monolithic entity. I can see no harm in reading from any sutras from both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. One can reach a better understanding of how Buddhism has evolved and continues to evolve from reading through the various sutras and their commentaries.

          Limit not your understanding. Be aware of the differences in understanding and the different perspectives of all the Buddhist sects. (naturally I'm talking about learned or intellectual understanding)

          A translation in English of nearly all the Buddhist sutras, both Mahayana and Theravada, can be found online. Remember, sutras are only tools, and they outline the teachings from the perspective of other people/sects/traditions - always draw your own conclusions and trust your own findings not merely the words or teachings of others.

          That's my ¥10 from a heretic practitioner.

          Some Mahayana sutras here with various translations/interpretations - http://www4.bayarea.net/~mtlee/
          For those of us who can read kanji they have kanji versions too.
          Gassho
          Jun
          The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • Skye
            Member
            • Feb 2008
            • 234

            #6
            Agreed, I feel that reading parts of the Pali canon has helped my understanding immensely, and Nagarjuna helped me overcome my early confusion that emptiness was akin to nihilism.

            I guess in the end, being a newb, I'm curious if literary study is a part of the Soto tradition... or if it really is "just sitting" ( + some precepts :wink: )

            Thanks,
            Skye
            Even on one blade of grass / the cool breeze / lingers - Issa

            Comment

            • will
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 2331

              #7
              deleted
              [size=85:z6oilzbt]
              To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
              To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
              To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
              To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
              [/size:z6oilzbt]

              Comment

              • paige
                Member
                • Apr 2007
                • 234

                #8
                Hi Skye,

                I resurrected our old book recommendations thread, if you're interested.

                I don't know anything about the differing advice on the Platform Sutra, but I personally quite like it.

                There are a couple of different versions - the Ming is more popular, and longer, here's a link to the
                BTTS translation. The Tun-huang version is older, and shorter, here's a link to Yampolsky's Translation (PDF). The chapter on Prajna (Chapter 2 in the Ming) is the part I liked best, and re-read most often.

                Another place to look for Mahayana sutras in translation is this page from thezensite.

                Hope that was useful.

                Comment

                • will
                  Member
                  • Jun 2007
                  • 2331

                  #9
                  deleted
                  [size=85:z6oilzbt]
                  To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
                  To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
                  To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
                  To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
                  [/size:z6oilzbt]

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39392

                    #10
                    This reminds me that I MUST make a reading list of suggested Soto Zen and other Buddhist books for here at Treeleaf. So many little things to do for Treeleaf since we started early last year, that this and some other things fell through the cracks. I will get on it in the coming weeks.

                    Let me just say to newcomers to Treeleaf and to Buddhism, that it is good to read books from all schools and periods of Buddhism, and to have a wide exposure and learn from many sources. All teachings and teachers have value! But also know that different schools of Buddhism have different approaches, flavors and opinions on some things. So, for example, the teachings of the ancient Pali texts or the modern Dali Lama (or even other schools of Zen Buddhism such as the Japanese Rinzai school, or a Pure Land mix as seen sometimes in Chinese Chan/Zen) sometimes might be a good fit with the teachings of Master Dogen and Soto Zen, but sometimes might be teaching something different and not so compatible. So, sometimes I will have to say "We don't really teach that here".

                    Of course, the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch will certainly be on the list!

                    Gassho, Jundo
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Rev R
                      Member
                      • Jul 2007
                      • 457

                      #11
                      Not specifically Soto but a couple that have been important to me:
                      The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine
                      the Kalama Sutra
                      and to echo the sentiment the Platform Sutra

                      I'd throw in the Brahma Net Sutra (I'd mangle the Japanese) just because it's stuck in my head.

                      Comment

                      • Jarkko
                        Member
                        • Oct 2007
                        • 58

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Skye
                        Thank you for the suggestion, and the reminder!

                        What is the opinion on the Platform Sutra? I've seen it variously described as an essential foundation or a false hinderance, even within Soto.

                        Thanks,
                        Skye
                        Hey Skye!

                        I think that Platform sutra was very good to read. One of the main thing in platform sutra was (i think) that reading many teachings and books doesnt make this wholeness any clearer. Dont lean on books, lean on yourself.
                        this is only my opinion...

                        Gassho

                        Jarkko

                        Comment

                        • Bansho
                          Member
                          • Apr 2007
                          • 532

                          #13
                          Hi Skye,

                          Originally posted by Skye
                          I guess in the end, being a newb, I'm curious if literary study is a part of the Soto tradition... or if it really is "just sitting" ( + some precepts :wink: )
                          Alledgedly in Dogen Zenji's time it was customary at Eiheiji for the Sangha to split up the day into 3 periods: Zazen, samu and sutra/commentary study. Incidentally, these periods roughly correspond to the threefold Buddhist practice of prajna (wisdom/study), sila (ethics/work) and samadhi (concentration/Zazen). Of course there really are no fixed boundaries between the three, wisdom isn't just study, ethics aren't only practiced during work etc., but you get the picture. :wink:

                          Gassho
                          Ken
                          ??

                          Comment

                          • paige
                            Member
                            • Apr 2007
                            • 234

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Rev R
                            I'd throw in the Brahma Net Sutra (I'd mangle the Japanese) just because it's stuck in my head.
                            Which one? There's a Theravada version and a Mahayana one (sorry for the purple background on the 2nd link!).

                            Comment

                            • Rev R
                              Member
                              • Jul 2007
                              • 457

                              #15
                              both are probably worth the read, but I have read the Mahayana version many times over the past couple of months.

                              Comment

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