Growing out of the wisdom of China, India, and Japan, Zen became a powerful movement to explore the lesser-known reaches of the human mind. Today we are rediscovering modern significance in its ancient insights. This course is an attempt to encounter Zen in its purest form, by returning to its legendary masters.
This course offers a treasury of Zen tradition: teachings, anecdotes, stories, legends, sayings, and wisdom culled from the classic texts of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen.
When Westerners first encountered the strange Zen dialogues and antics that had been treasured in East Asia for a thousand years, there seemed to be more madness than method. Now we realize that the masters were communicating with exceptional directness and freedom in a language of awakening. Today, across vast spans of time and culture, they are still teaching us.
In this course we try to let Zen speak for itself. Rather than engage in interpretation and analytical commentary, we present the stories of Zen in as straightforward a manner as possible, Of course, even in the process of putting together our source material we have had to choose whether to present the legends as they have been reported or engage in the questions raised by modern scholarship. While we try to strike a balance, like Andy Ferguson in Zen's Chinese Heritage we start from the premise that:
. . . understanding how the tradition views itself must be the basis for all later criticism. The traditional view is not yet sufficiently appreciated by Western readers.