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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (July 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593976747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593976743
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 1.4 x 13.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #326,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Review

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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell on Dec 19 2001
Format: Paperback
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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By Kieran on Oct. 18 2003
Format: Paperback
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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By jason hands on Feb. 13 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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 mechanistic/ geometric interpretation of God and reality), in Psychology(skinner and his behaviourist crowd would have us believe that we live like rats, or rather, like they think rats live), anthropology(which sees us as a linear improvement from amoeba to ape to man), nuclear sciences(sending guys to moon after blowing millions of dollars for some dirty slag/ nuclear weapons that could blow the world off) and in almost all other pursuits.
Some of this is also due to our warped interpretation of religion. Fundamentally, it has been a mass-based, irrelevant pursuit where the believers are the cherished and get to sack in heaven with angels and the damned will be burnt in hell. I mean, even religion is based on what happens to one's senses which has proven time and again to be misleading. All great wars have been fought over religion and the heap of dead from time-immemorial has had generous contributions from the business of religious warfare. And all this is supposedly presided over by a monarch(read God) who sits in the heavens and is neatly using a double accounting system to be sure of his assets(believers) and liabilities(the pagans).
It is in this background that an experience like Zen is extremely critical so that we just get up, see that the emperor is not wearing any clothes and get on with our lives. Watts is simply the best as far as Zen is concerned.
Zen or Dhyana Budhhism is against the use of words/ symbols to describe enlightenment but believes in going for the state of pure bliss itself. This point has been brought about in this brilliant book by Alan Watts.
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