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Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-zen Writings [Paperback]

Paul Reps , Nyogen Senzaki
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 15 1998
When Zen Flesh, Zen Bones was published in 1957 it became an instant sensation with an entire generation of readers who were just beginning to experiment with Zen. Over the years it has inspired leading American Zen teachers, students, and practitioners. Its popularity is as strong today as ever.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is a book that offers a collection of accessible, primary Zen sources so that readers can struggle over the meaning of Zen for themselves. It includes 101 Zen Stories, a collection of tales that recount actual experiences of Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers over a period of more than five centuries; The Gateless Gate, the famous thirteenth century collection of Zen koans; Ten Bulls, a twelfth century commentary on the stages of awareness leading to enlightenment; and Centering, a 4,000 year-old teaching from India that some consider to be the roots of Zen.

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"It has stayed with me for the last 30 years, a classic portraying Zen mind to our linear thinking." — Phil Jackson, Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and author of Sacred Hoops


"This book was my introduction to Buddhism nearly thirty years ago. I am delighted to see this new edition of this wonderful classic." — Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think


"This book has been a steadfast portal through which millions in the West have peered to catch at the very least a glimpse of Zen mind at play in all its thought-shattering dialogue, humor, joy, and wisdom." — Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are


"Perhaps the first Dharma book I ever read, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, remains a classic, a gem, a gift to us all." — Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

From the Publisher

Here, in one volume are four original sources for Zen 101: Zen Stories, The Gateless Gate, Bulls, and Centering Together serve as a desirable volume of source readings for one already familiar with Zen. For the reader not familiar with Zen, this is an ideal introduction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
NAN-IN, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Had it for 35 years, still enjoyable July 3 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up my first copy of Zen Flesh Zen Bones in 1968. After all these years, all those miles, all those lives, jobs, travels... it's still on my bookshelf. I've had other editions, given away quite a few, but the original paperback is still in my possession, a little worse for the journey perhaps. I pick it up to read it frequently, usually just a story or two, maybe a koan to puzzle over (still baffle me, these many years later). I can't think of a better book that encapsulates all of Zen so well, that gives the reader something to think about, something to laugh about, something to ponder, so much in so few pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Students of Zen-- Here Is a Must Have Feb. 16 2004
Format:Paperback
This book basically holds within it's frame 4 books. The first three being published first in the 1930's! Talk about a pioneer in the field of Zen writings in the West! My goodness, is this ever a must have on your shelf if you are a practitioner of Zen. I will not say it has been my most desired book on Zen through the years; that would be a flat out lie. But I will say that contained herein are some most interesting koans. Yes koans. These allegories are not just stories your going to sit down and say, "Oh my, now I get what this guy is saying!" Not a chance. If you can, you don't even need this book. I confess to you all, that this book spends most of it's time on the shelf. Now why is that? Because I have to contemplate what was said! It may take some months, or some years in several cases. I hold some of these koans "in secret" when I am supposed to be working on another koan. They can be that vexing!
The first time you read this book, you'll probably go, "Huh?"
You may even wonder, "Why did I buy this?"
But I say to you now, when you are practicing this book is truly a best friend. Is it entertainment? Nope. Certainly not. Can it help you clear up the Great Matter of Life and Death?
Actually -- Yes. Enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A long-time favorite Feb. 8 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Zen or no-zen, the stories in this book are unequaled in their beauty, simplicity, or depth.
(This from someone who has never been a practicioner of Zen Buddhism.)
Not a practical, how-to, this-is-zen kind of book. Unadorned by testimonials and advertisements for this or that school.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Small But A Divine Book Jan. 26 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is a compilation of four books. They are 101 Zen Stories, The Gateless Gate, 10 Bulls, & Centering. If readers are avid readers about Zen, you would have come across some of the stories in 101 Zen Stories. Truth to be told, there is another book offering in cartoon version which conveyed the stories mentioned here & I find them more accessible. At times, after we read the stories, our initial reaction would be huh? It takes time & much persistency, or intervention by unexpected people or incidents that we suddenly get it. Anyhow, by continuously reading those materials that those ideals can be reinforced within our mental state of mind. The Gateless Gate is a rendition of popular koans and again, it's quite difficult to understand especially when you are reading this by yourself. Anyhow, it's wonderful to read. 10 Bulls story is quite self-explanatory about find our source, our original thinking. The last book about Centering is derived from ancient Sanskrit manuscripts of Shiva answering Devi about Centering in 112 ways. Sorry about my ignorance but I reckon it's about sitting & breathing: as it is. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Little Book With Oh SO Much! Jan. 12 2004
Format:Paperback
I would have to say that Zen Flesh, Zen Bones itself is a koan - how else could you explain fitting so much into such a tiny book?
I fully enjoyed reading and experiencing this book. Even how the book got it's name is a great tale.
The book is divided into 4 parts.
The first section is 101 Zen Stories. They are all incredible, illuminating and fun. I love Zen stories and after the 101st one I wanted more.
The second section - the Gateless Gate - some more types of Zen stories followed by comments from Mumon. Mumon must mean Very Cranky in Japanese.
The third section - 10 Bulls - is such a great illustrated story and then finally the fourth section is on Centering -
This was such a joy to read and was easy to understand and really lots of fun!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best intro to Zen Jan. 7 2004
By Frikle
Format:Paperback
A great book for those who wish to become familliar with Zen in a closer way than its current overhyped and false pop-culture portrayal. This book contains many important texts that are at the same time not too heavy and generally fun to read (true of many Zen texts)
The first part is 101 Zen stories, some of which are taken from koans. Of these, most either contain some insight into the Zen thought (though that is an oxymoron!) while others give a view of classical Zen life as it happened in the monasteries and countryside.
The next part is the Gateless Gate - a classic collection of 48 koans. This is enough to get the essence of what a koan is but don't expect to even scratch the surface with a simple reading! A thing of particular surprise to those who've heard of Zen only from the media is the use of violence in the koans. This is what I find most disagreeable with them, even conceding that this is not meant to be literal. whatever your opinion, these aren't for the faint-of-mind
Next comes the classic of 10 bulls - ten pictures which tell a symbollic story of an oxherder catching and taming the bull. The version of the images used here is my favourite because of it's utter simplicity, akin to minimalism. Of the texts in the book this one approaches the Zen ideal of essence without words closest (as the main part is the images themselves). The poetry accompanying the images divine and well worth the price of the whole book.
The last part is a Hindu scripture which is said to speak of similar things to the Zen masters but honestly didn't do anything for me.
As you can see, a great book containing so much in so few words. Whether you're after something to exercise an often neglected part of the brain or wanting to learn about Zen or wanting to become an actual practitioner, it's a perfect start!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars *A Weightless Gift for the Soul*
I received this book as a birthday gift from a friend. I had no idea what Zen was until I read the interesting preface by Paul Reps (the co-compiler of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones), and... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by RJRo20
4.0 out of 5 stars Catchy
I remember reading Alan Watts write about giving this book to a friend in the hospital. When he asked if the man enjoyed it he said: "Didn't undertand a word of it, but it... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2003 by David P Oller
5.0 out of 5 stars If there is one book I could keep....
Okay kids, this would probably be my pick for desert island book. I forget exactly how I got this book and read it but I do remember the first time I read the "Zen... Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2003 by Damon Navas-Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars Empty Your Cup
What is Zen? If anyone tells you the answer to that then they are lying. Zen cannot be told because Zen neither is nor is not. Zen is not words, words only hint at Zen. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by JAD
4.0 out of 5 stars OK
NOT THE ALL AND END ALL. A SMALL BOOK WITH PRACTICAL USE FOR ZEN STUDENTS.
Published on Aug. 25 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars OK
NOT THE ALL AND END ALL. A SMALL BOOK WITH PRACTICAL USE FOR ZEN STUDENTS.
Published on Aug. 25 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal introduction
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
To a student of Zen, it is unnecessary to introduce this book. For those folks reading about Zen for the first time, this is a collection of Zen and... Read more
Published on July 29 2002 by James Sheffield
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