The Way of Zen
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In his definitive introduction to Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts explains the principles and practices of this ancient religion to Western readers. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, he delves into the origins and history of Zen to explain what it means for the world today with incredible clarity. Watts saw Zen as “one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world,” and in The Way of Zen he gives this gift to readers everywhere.
compasses. His fingers seemed to accommodate themselves so naturally to the thing he was working at, that it was unnecessary to fix his attention. His mental faculties thus remained One (i.e., integrated), and suffered no hindrance. To be unconscious of one’s feet implies that the shoes are easy. To be unconscious of a waist implies that the girdle is easy. The intelligence being unconscious of positive and negative implies that the heart (hsin) is at ease.… And he who, beginning with ease, is
communication with those who do not belong to the same fold. It is both dangerous and absurd for our world to be a group of communions mutually excommunicate. This is especially true of the great cultures of the East and the West, where the potentialities of communication are the richest, and the dangers of failure to communicate the worst. As one who has spent somewhat more than twenty years trying to interpret the East to the West, I have become increasingly certain that to interpret such a
categories of maya fall back into potentiality so that the world may be seen in its unclassified “suchness.” Here karuna awakens, and the Bodhisattva lets the projection arise again, having become consciously identified with the playful and purposeless character of the Void. 1 Keith (1), p. 273. 2 The alleged “obscenity” of maithuna, as this practice is called, is entirely in the minds of Christian missionaries. In fact, the relationship with the shakti was anything but promiscuous, and
simple and rapidly made “grasps” of the mind. When we say that we can think only of one thing at a time, this is like saying that the Pacific Ocean cannot be swallowed at a gulp. It has to be taken in a cup, and downed bit by bit. Abstractions and conventional signs are like the cup; they reduce experience to units simple enough to be comprehended one at a time. In a similar way, curves are measured by reducing them to a sequence of tiny straight lines, or by thinking of them in terms of the
to take home not only Zen but every other aspect of Chinese culture. Shiploads of monks, amounting almost to floating monasteries, plied between China and Japan, carrying not only sutras and Chinese classical books, but also tea, silk, pottery, incense, paintings, drugs, musical instruments, and every refinement of Chinese culture–not to mention Chinese artists and craftsmen. Closest to the feeling of Zen was a calligraphic style of painting, done with black ink on paper or silk-usually a