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Zen Training is a comprehensive handbook for zazen, seated meditation practice, and an authoritative presentation of the Zen path. The book marked a turning point in Zen literature in its critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience, which the author believes has often been emphasized at the expense of other important aspects of Zen training. In addition, Zen Tr Zen Training is a comprehensive handbook for zazen, seated meditation practice, and an authoritative presentation of the Zen path. The book marked a turning point in Zen literature in its critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience, which the author believes has often been emphasized at the expense of other important aspects of Zen training. In addition, Zen Training goes beyond the first flashes of enlightenment to explore how one lives as well as trains in Zen. The author also draws many significant parallels between Zen and Western philosophy and psychology, comparing traditional Zen concepts with the theories of being and cognition of such thinkers as Heidegger and Husserl.


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Zen Training is a comprehensive handbook for zazen, seated meditation practice, and an authoritative presentation of the Zen path. The book marked a turning point in Zen literature in its critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience, which the author believes has often been emphasized at the expense of other important aspects of Zen training. In addition, Zen Tr Zen Training is a comprehensive handbook for zazen, seated meditation practice, and an authoritative presentation of the Zen path. The book marked a turning point in Zen literature in its critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience, which the author believes has often been emphasized at the expense of other important aspects of Zen training. In addition, Zen Training goes beyond the first flashes of enlightenment to explore how one lives as well as trains in Zen. The author also draws many significant parallels between Zen and Western philosophy and psychology, comparing traditional Zen concepts with the theories of being and cognition of such thinkers as Heidegger and Husserl.

30 review for Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy (Shambhala Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    If you can get past the irony of learning about ineffable Zen teachings from a book, this is a very good Zen book indeed. It's one of the few that tells you specifically what to expect and what to do in 'zazen' or sitting meditation, which is where it all begins. Sekida is refreshingly straightforward and clear, and he keeps the koans to a minimum as he describes how to sit, breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Any book that begins with a chapter on "one-minute zazen" gets high marks If you can get past the irony of learning about ineffable Zen teachings from a book, this is a very good Zen book indeed. It's one of the few that tells you specifically what to expect and what to do in 'zazen' or sitting meditation, which is where it all begins. Sekida is refreshingly straightforward and clear, and he keeps the koans to a minimum as he describes how to sit, breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Any book that begins with a chapter on "one-minute zazen" gets high marks from this impatient Westerner. Recommended if you want to pursue Zen meditation, or if you just want to understand what all the non-fuss is about.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kapila

    I don't pretend to understand most of this book. It was a heavy read, at times plodding - and yet I'm glad to have had the chance to read it. Certain passages struck me: Someday you will have this kind of experience. And one day, when you emerge from it, rising from your seat, stepping across the doorsill, looking at the stones and trees in the garden, hearing some trifling sound, raising a cup to your lips or passing your fingers over a bowl, suddenly, you will find heaven and earth come tumblin I don't pretend to understand most of this book. It was a heavy read, at times plodding - and yet I'm glad to have had the chance to read it. Certain passages struck me: Someday you will have this kind of experience. And one day, when you emerge from it, rising from your seat, stepping across the doorsill, looking at the stones and trees in the garden, hearing some trifling sound, raising a cup to your lips or passing your fingers over a bowl, suddenly, you will find heaven and earth come tumbling down. And: Spring has come round. A thousand flowers are in their lovely bloom. For what? For whom? -Hekigan Roku, Case 5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Chen

    Can you cease your thoughts just by tensing your body? If you can't, this book teaches you how. You'll be surprised how meditation is more than simply sitting in a room and breathing. You'll learn how to listen to your body, while managing your mind and stress. Can you cease your thoughts just by tensing your body? If you can't, this book teaches you how. You'll be surprised how meditation is more than simply sitting in a room and breathing. You'll learn how to listen to your body, while managing your mind and stress.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    It's taken me months to read this book, which is highly unusual for me. But I enjoyed the reading and thinking on the reading. I do not practice zen but am occasionally driven to try and understand something about it, usually by reading books that leave me knowing less than I started out with. This book left me knowing less than I started out with as well, but I feel good about it, feel very zen and emptied by it. And I have learned so much about breath. Also, this book has charts and tables and It's taken me months to read this book, which is highly unusual for me. But I enjoyed the reading and thinking on the reading. I do not practice zen but am occasionally driven to try and understand something about it, usually by reading books that leave me knowing less than I started out with. This book left me knowing less than I started out with as well, but I feel good about it, feel very zen and emptied by it. And I have learned so much about breath. Also, this book has charts and tables and all kinds of analytical tools for people like me who really thrive on that kind of presentation of material. Sounds counter-zen, doesn't it? It's a relief to logical thinkers like myself to see how it can work together.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben Saff

    This book is immediately useful and impactful and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn and practice zazen, the meditative discipline of Zen Buddhism. There is zero mysticism in this book. It begins by describing the ideal postures and breathing techniques for zazen, making it possible to begin practicing right away. It goes on to map out our normal pattern of consciousness and how to quiet the mind, eventually emptying it completely. Emptying the mind is important part of Zen but it This book is immediately useful and impactful and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn and practice zazen, the meditative discipline of Zen Buddhism. There is zero mysticism in this book. It begins by describing the ideal postures and breathing techniques for zazen, making it possible to begin practicing right away. It goes on to map out our normal pattern of consciousness and how to quiet the mind, eventually emptying it completely. Emptying the mind is important part of Zen but it is not the ultimate goal. Emptying the mind stops the regular pattern of egocentric consciousness and helps the mind perceive the world in its pure form, that is, without relation to our own experience or ego. Imagine what it would be like to see a flower for the first time. Imagine not thinking in terms of "I". This book reinforced for me the fact that my daily (seemingly lifelong) patten of consciousness can be altered and improved by reducing egocentric thoughts and increasing direct perception (pure consciousness) of the world and people around me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nile

    I was very uneducated on Buddhism and zen culture prior to reading this, so I found this very enlightening. I went into this book looking to have my meditation technique improved and that's exactly what it delivered on. Not only did I learn about zazen, which refers to the physical act of meditating, but I was given this positive reinforcement about achieving that clear mind that I so desired, which Sekida refers to as samadhi. He talks about why you will fail very often in the beginning but tha I was very uneducated on Buddhism and zen culture prior to reading this, so I found this very enlightening. I went into this book looking to have my meditation technique improved and that's exactly what it delivered on. Not only did I learn about zazen, which refers to the physical act of meditating, but I was given this positive reinforcement about achieving that clear mind that I so desired, which Sekida refers to as samadhi. He talks about why you will fail very often in the beginning but that gives hope that with continuous years of practicing meditation everyday my technique will slowly improve and my usual way of consciousness and attachment to things and the delusions of the ego will eventually fall off entirely.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Grant Jackson

    This is a great introduction to meditation for people like myself who come from a religiously skeptical background. There’s a lot about the physiology of zen practice which I haven’t heard elsewhere. Its repeated exhortations to just try the techniques described and see what happens are refreshing because they ask for no metaphysical leaps. The few tie-ins to European existentialist philosophy were more comfortable to me than similarities to European religion I’ve encountered in other manuals fo This is a great introduction to meditation for people like myself who come from a religiously skeptical background. There’s a lot about the physiology of zen practice which I haven’t heard elsewhere. Its repeated exhortations to just try the techniques described and see what happens are refreshing because they ask for no metaphysical leaps. The few tie-ins to European existentialist philosophy were more comfortable to me than similarities to European religion I’ve encountered in other manuals for meditation. It’s my third time though and the kick I needed to get back on the mat.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sypes

    I really enjoyed this book's earlier chapters with detailed instructions on Zazen. As the book goes further it becomes an ever increasing morass of unintelligible esoterica, typical of most of these kinds of books. "What is the sound of one clapping in a forest if no one is there to hear it?" I read this off the book shelf at my karate dojo, but will look for a personal copy to actually try following the instructions to see how I do. I really enjoyed this book's earlier chapters with detailed instructions on Zazen. As the book goes further it becomes an ever increasing morass of unintelligible esoterica, typical of most of these kinds of books. "What is the sound of one clapping in a forest if no one is there to hear it?" I read this off the book shelf at my karate dojo, but will look for a personal copy to actually try following the instructions to see how I do.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lakmus

    A useful and practical introduction to Zen. Much recommended for fellow noobs who know nothing. I mean to return to this book later on and read some chapters in more detail. The theorising on the nature of cognition and consciousness is also very interesting to me (and surprisingly some bits aren't too far off from what I've read in recent books and papers on the topic). A useful and practical introduction to Zen. Much recommended for fellow noobs who know nothing. I mean to return to this book later on and read some chapters in more detail. The theorising on the nature of cognition and consciousness is also very interesting to me (and surprisingly some bits aren't too far off from what I've read in recent books and papers on the topic).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Allum

    Good reference on Zen practice. I first read this in March 2009 and added the following note: "heavy-going; didn't read in detail". On re-reading in 2017, I found it much more valuable. The author, a lay Zen practitioner, provides very useful details on the mental experience at different stages of practice--with different levels of samadhi. Good reference on Zen practice. I first read this in March 2009 and added the following note: "heavy-going; didn't read in detail". On re-reading in 2017, I found it much more valuable. The author, a lay Zen practitioner, provides very useful details on the mental experience at different stages of practice--with different levels of samadhi.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Rodebaugh

    This is the book that, many years ago, helped me make my first noticeable progress with zazen. There are many other books on Zen, but I haven't read another that does as much to encourage a beginning practitioner. This is the book that, many years ago, helped me make my first noticeable progress with zazen. There are many other books on Zen, but I haven't read another that does as much to encourage a beginning practitioner.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eric A. Drosnock

    Amazing insight to Zen practice and some serious depth in the second part that dives quickly into a mix of philosophy and psychology. Take your time and be ready to revisit this book further down your path.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Logan LePage

    This isn't just a book on how to properly meditate, but rather a great guide in the mindset of a Buddhist. It offers practical method, philosophy, and psychology all in one. This isn't just a book on how to properly meditate, but rather a great guide in the mindset of a Buddhist. It offers practical method, philosophy, and psychology all in one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    C Settles

    Good introductory read to Zen for those already familiar with Buddhism. Considrable detail on practice methods and reasoning behind them.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Karpusas

    Excellent book that you feel reading over and over again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bretty585

    Most comprehensive manual on the mechanics of zazen I’ve read. Clarified many aspects of breathing and posture for me. Highly recommended to any serious practitioner of Zen.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Trilok

    This book is about Zazen, which is essentially meditation rather than esoteric koans, which is usually associated with Zen. I'm probably never going to finish this book, because I'm probably not going to progress to a point in Zen training where I'd need to read further chapters. I learned the difference between Zen meditation vs meditation in Yoga. I haven't read other books on Zazen, so I do not know if all Zen masters put as much emphasis on abdominal breathing and pressure as Sekida does. The This book is about Zazen, which is essentially meditation rather than esoteric koans, which is usually associated with Zen. I'm probably never going to finish this book, because I'm probably not going to progress to a point in Zen training where I'd need to read further chapters. I learned the difference between Zen meditation vs meditation in Yoga. I haven't read other books on Zazen, so I do not know if all Zen masters put as much emphasis on abdominal breathing and pressure as Sekida does. The method of breathing he teaches is so different and so completely occupies my mind that it feels nothing like meditation to me. I know this would go away with practice, however, I am not sure if I'll follow it. Having said that, the idea of tying thoughts to a physical action(breathing) is appealing. I have heard of this before, but I had never been presented with such a method. Read the first couple of chapters if you can get your hands on it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The book is absolutely amazing. I always think when it comes to reading the philosophy or training of a person that it is important to ask, what the person has to gain by writing this. Katsuke Sekida's book was recommended from the book, The Meditator's Handbook by David Fontana. For the purpose of whether one would want to pursue Zen. David Fontana I found to be incredibly objective in his descriptions, and I trusted his words enough to read this book. It is truly objective as well, so much info The book is absolutely amazing. I always think when it comes to reading the philosophy or training of a person that it is important to ask, what the person has to gain by writing this. Katsuke Sekida's book was recommended from the book, The Meditator's Handbook by David Fontana. For the purpose of whether one would want to pursue Zen. David Fontana I found to be incredibly objective in his descriptions, and I trusted his words enough to read this book. It is truly objective as well, so much information, and so much possibility to learn from this book. Do not believe what others say, do not believe what I say, and if you read this book, do not believe what he says either. See it for yourself.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jose

    I've learned more about meditation reading the first few chapters of this book than attending to several intro to meditation workshops for the last 2 years. Though I doubt he teaches the traditional zazen (he recommends to close your eyes and execute a particular type of breathing), his techniques and explanations are of extraordinary practical value for the beginner zen practitioner. (back after months after having read the book,I wouldn't recommend the author's breathing technique as your main I've learned more about meditation reading the first few chapters of this book than attending to several intro to meditation workshops for the last 2 years. Though I doubt he teaches the traditional zazen (he recommends to close your eyes and execute a particular type of breathing), his techniques and explanations are of extraordinary practical value for the beginner zen practitioner. (back after months after having read the book,I wouldn't recommend the author's breathing technique as your main meditation practice, but only as a complement, to bring more awareness to your breathing process and to stimulate your attention)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evan Backer

    This is an excellent book for those looking to deepen or solidify their practice with zazen. It involves very specific and helpful physiological and psychological advice for furthering practice. This includes an explanation of the different kinds of samadhi, satori, thought processes and how to control them, sitting posture, breathing method, and much more -- all in incredible detail. Be warned -- this is not a beach read. The book can be very dry and difficult to read at times. Personally it ha This is an excellent book for those looking to deepen or solidify their practice with zazen. It involves very specific and helpful physiological and psychological advice for furthering practice. This includes an explanation of the different kinds of samadhi, satori, thought processes and how to control them, sitting posture, breathing method, and much more -- all in incredible detail. Be warned -- this is not a beach read. The book can be very dry and difficult to read at times. Personally it has taken me a few reads to fully understand the technical jargon. However, it is more than worth it if you are serious about deepening your meditation.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Lomaka

    Great book if you want to get more out of your meditations. As those who already practice know, any time you set aside to simply breathe deeply and center yourself is incredibly valuable, and should never be regarded as the "right way" or the "wrong way". However, if you feel as though your technique could use some improvement, or if you're having difficulty letting random thoughts move in and out of your consciousness, this book will benefit you greatly. Admittedly, it is a bit technical in natu Great book if you want to get more out of your meditations. As those who already practice know, any time you set aside to simply breathe deeply and center yourself is incredibly valuable, and should never be regarded as the "right way" or the "wrong way". However, if you feel as though your technique could use some improvement, or if you're having difficulty letting random thoughts move in and out of your consciousness, this book will benefit you greatly. Admittedly, it is a bit technical in nature if you read it cover to cover, but if you allow the book to just be what it is and embrace those portions that are helpful to you, your time will be well spent. Happy breathing! ✌

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    A fascinating text, but it is highly technical and so makes for pretty dry reading in some chapters. That said, it does offer a very insightful analysis on the methodology of Zen training from an obvious expert. The book's more scientific perspective is a refreshing break from the unrelatable "far-outness" Zen is so often packaged in and which has caused zen to become all but a superficial ornament on so many New Age book shelves. A fascinating text, but it is highly technical and so makes for pretty dry reading in some chapters. That said, it does offer a very insightful analysis on the methodology of Zen training from an obvious expert. The book's more scientific perspective is a refreshing break from the unrelatable "far-outness" Zen is so often packaged in and which has caused zen to become all but a superficial ornament on so many New Age book shelves.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Samuel

    Other than the fact that it's like trying to read a book to learn to drive a car, this book is fantastic. It's one of the few books I've come across that deals with the nitty gritty of zazen, or sitting meditation. The book details specifics of how to sit, how to place your hands, what to do with your shoulders, how to breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Highly recommended for anyone who needs a good teacher to spell out the basics. Other than the fact that it's like trying to read a book to learn to drive a car, this book is fantastic. It's one of the few books I've come across that deals with the nitty gritty of zazen, or sitting meditation. The book details specifics of how to sit, how to place your hands, what to do with your shoulders, how to breathe, and think in order to achieve samadhi. Highly recommended for anyone who needs a good teacher to spell out the basics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    I only read half of this, the first half, which describes the physical techniques of meditation. That is all I was looking for. This first half did allude to encountering "pure existence" when one is mature in their practice of meditation, but that read like new-age spirituality and it didn't make sense. I skipped the more detailed description of "pure existence" and other Zen benefits in the second half. Also, the description of breathing could have been better, using more pics and words. I only read half of this, the first half, which describes the physical techniques of meditation. That is all I was looking for. This first half did allude to encountering "pure existence" when one is mature in their practice of meditation, but that read like new-age spirituality and it didn't make sense. I skipped the more detailed description of "pure existence" and other Zen benefits in the second half. Also, the description of breathing could have been better, using more pics and words.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The thing I really love about this book is that there is no navel-gazing here. This is strictly a primer on the physiological changes in the body when zen is practiced. The clear, concise yet detailed explanations make it uncomplicated and practical. Suzuki explains the why and how of zen meditation and thereby demystifies enlightenment.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Custer

    Zen meditation techniques, Zen philosophy, the life and teachings of Buddha, basic Buddhist terminology, the history of Buddhism...among other things. A great read for anyone seriously interested in Zen - be warned, it does tend to be a bit dry at times, but the author added enough examples (to aid in the reader relating to the topic) to keep me interested and turning the pages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This is the book that helped me to understand how the body breathes--it then informed my pilates and yoga practice. It also really inspired me and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to read a solid book on Zen.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    This was a very nice technical look at Zen training. Not so much a philosophical book as a manual, it goes into detail on the topics of zazen, breathing, kensho, and the different phases of zen training. A very interesting read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    Very clear introduction to a kind of meditation called zazen. The author seems very serious at first, but rereadings make him appear more playful. He is tricky, which makes him a good teacher. He always wants the reader to find out for him or herself.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    An excellent Zen meditation handbook for western practicioners! The author, having practised zazen for over 60 years, uses concepts found in western science (psychology, philosophy, neuroscience) to "translate" Zen teachings. Nice! An excellent Zen meditation handbook for western practicioners! The author, having practised zazen for over 60 years, uses concepts found in western science (psychology, philosophy, neuroscience) to "translate" Zen teachings. Nice!

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