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The Way of Zen [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Alan W. Watts , Ralph Blum
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 16 2005
Discover how the understanding and practice of Zen can bring peace and enlightenment into your daily life in this classic work, now available on CD

Narrated by Ralph Blum, this audio program presents readings of carefully chosen selections from Alan Watts’s classic bestseller, illuminated by rare recordings of the author personally commenting and elaborating on the key concepts and ideas of his seminal work including:
• The history of Zen
• The principles and practice of Zen
• The tradition of Za-Zen (meditation) and the Koan
• The integration of Zen into every aspect of life

THE WAY OF ZEN presents an understandable, inspirational, and spiritually rewarding exploration of Zen Buddhism—a way of liberation—that may be one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world.

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After D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts stands as the godfather of Zen in America. Often taken to task for inspiring the flimsy spontaneity of Beat Zen, Watts had an undeniably keen understanding of his subject. Nowhere is this more evident than in his 1957 classic The Way of Zen, which has been reissued. Watts takes the reader back to the philosophical foundations of Zen in the conceptual world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism's course through the development of the early Mahayana school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism's marriage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen's unique expression in Japanese art and life. As a Westerner, Watts anticipates the stumbling blocks encountered with such concepts as emptiness and no-mind, then illustrates with flawlessly apt examples. Many popular books have been written on Zen since Watts' time, but few have been able to muster the rare combination of erudition and clarity that have kept The Way of Zen in readers' hands decade after decade. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“No one has given such a concise...introduction to the whole history of this Far Eastern development of Buddhist thought as Alan Watts.” —Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

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First Sentence
Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not belong to any of the formal categories of modern Western thought. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is the heart of Zen Sept. 27 2003
if you are a seeker and wish to achieve satori; stop seeking and let go of that wish...
this book is about dis-learning. YOU cannot learn anything from this great source. Alan Watts says "AWAKENING IS NOT NOT TO KNOW WHAT REALITY IS, AWAKENING IS TO KNOW WHAT REALITY IS NOT"
Alan W. Watts says "to Tia, Mark and Richard who will understand it all the better. for not being able to read it"
but know that if there's a book about Zen, this is it...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a couple dozen other books on Zen Buddhism Dec 19 2001
This can be seen as a significant book in the transmission of the dharma to the Western world, even though, or perhaps especially because, it is written by a Westerner. Consistently admired since its first publication in 1957, and reprinted many times, The Way of Zen is that rarest of books, a popular and academic success. You will not read far before seeing why. Watts's style is reasoned and reasonable, clear and authoritative, but without a hint of affectation. Watts knows what he is talking about and to whom he is speaking. Because of his perspective between two worlds, he is, more than almost any other writer on Zen, able to match the ideas of the East to the mind of the West, and in doing so make the broader outlines of Zen as clear as the polished, dustless mirror.
The book is divided into two parts, "Background and History" and Principles and Practice," each with four chapters. There is a bibliography also divided into two parts, the first referring to original sources and second to general works on Zen in European languages. There are 16 pages of Chinese Notes in calligraphy keyed to the text, and an Index.
"The Way" in the title refers to the "watercourse way" from Taoism, a philosophy to which Zen owes much, as Watts makes clear in the first two chapters, "The Philosophy of the Tao" and "The Origins of Buddhism." The first chapter is one of the best on Taoism that I have ever read, replete with insight and wisdom. Throughout, Watts expresses himself in an infectious style, even in the very scholarly chapters on the history of Buddhism where he traces Zen from its origin in India, through the Buddha under the Po tree, to Ch'an in China, and finally into Japan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Watts enlightens Oct. 18 2003
By Kieran
It is unfortunate in my view that the word Zen gets attached to the most frivolous things. You see books with titles such as "The Zen of Motorcycle Repair" or "The Zen of Making Big Fat Wads of Cash". As Lao Tzu says, "Those who speak do not know; those who know do not speak". With that in mind, it's clear that the modern fad of Zen-everything is not really the way of Zen. Which raises the question - what is the way of Zen? Alan Watts recognises the difficulty in explaining the concept of Zen to the West, and freely admits he's not the world's foremost expert on the subject. However humble he may have been, Watts certainly seems to know what he's talking about. "The Way of Zen" traces the origins of this non-religion/philosophy/ideology from ancient China and India, to its uptake in the rest of Asia (notably Japan). There's even a few chapters on Zen in the Arts, discussing the idea of haiku and how it aspires to be Zen-in-motion. Watts is lucid in his approach, and always takes the time to explain even the most perplexing concepts. Overall if you want to get one step closer to understanding the inscrutable Zen, let Watts enlighten you (pun intended).
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating Feb. 13 2003
I usually prefer to download lectures by Alan watts rather than read his books, some of
which seemed to just ramble along. I am not really good at critiques, but I really enjoyed
this book. Easy to read. Some concepts are so foreign to my common sense way of
thinking that it sort of turns my thinking inside-out. The idea makes sense. I cannot find
fault with it. But regrettably, my mind snaps back to its usual way of thinking.
For example: We tend to think of our self as an independent being inside of a separate
world. But actually there exists no separate being or outside world. The two are opposite
ends of a spectrum and reality exists only between the two ends. Sort of seems to be the
main point. That who you think you are is a mental construction, sort of a caricature of
itself. your true self is the entire world. One of my favorite sayings is "everywhere is the
center." Everywhere is everything. you are everything. I am everything and so is my
computer. Our minds create symbols to stand for parts of the world and then we start to
think that the world is made of parts. It seems that liberation comes from dying to your
sense of self. from ceasing trying to grasp at life as though it were something "other" that
could be grasped.
I can remember some magical times in my life when instead of me acting in the world, I
let the world take me by the hand and everything just clicked. I find these things
fascinating, but for some reason impossible to share.
There are some Zen stories which I can't seem to make any sense of, and I dunno, maybe
the point is to watch your mind try to make sense of it. I really am running off at the
mouth now. Oh well.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A staple of any bookshelf
Having listened to many of Alan Watts lectures prior to reading the book I was not surprised at the clarity of Watts words. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Brandon Sider
2.0 out of 5 stars Not What I thought!
What I did not realise when ordering this CD was that it is narrated by
Ralph Bloom whose voice is less than compelling, and who speaks far too quickly. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2007 by Dulcinea.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best on Zen
As most of us know, Watts is historically one of the most significant writer's introducing the West to Eastern thought. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars High voltage stuff from Watts!
Over a period of time, we have mistaken the map for the territory as depicted in the sciences(Aristotle, Newton, Euclid did a great disservice to the human intellect through their... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2002 by Malli
5.0 out of 5 stars High voltage stuff from Watts!
Over a period of time, we have mistaken the map for the territory as depicted in the sciences(Aristotle, Newton, Euclid did a great disservice to the human intellect through their... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2002 by Malli
1.0 out of 5 stars Watts is excellent, but they screwed up the cassette
I have read Alan Watts now for many years. I used to listen to him on PBS in Berkeley. Watts has a fantastic and interesting style of speaking. Read more
Published on May 16 2002 by James R. Acker
5.0 out of 5 stars It Is "The" Book
The prolific Alan Watts explains the origin, growth, development, and philosophy of Buddhism in a readable and interesting way. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2002 by K. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the Unexplainable
I've read a few books on Zen and they all seemed to be a bunch of cutsey phrases. This book, on the other hand, is amazing. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by "fatweasel"
2.0 out of 5 stars The book is excellent - the audio tape is not
Please don't be fooled by the enthusiastic reviews based on the book that... I understand that the publisher has a lot of information to present in condensing a book to an audio... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2001 by Bernhard H. Klinder
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