Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present

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North Atlantic Books, 1994 - Religion - 137 pages
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Instant Zen presents the teachings of Foyan, a twelfth-century Chinese Zen master recognized as one of the greatest masters of the Song dynasty Zen renaissance in China. Returning to the uncomplicated genuineness of the original and classical Zen masters, Foyan offers many simple exercises in attention and thought designed to lead to the awakening of Zen insight into the real nature of the self. These succinct teachings emphasize independence and autonomy, and show us how to open our own eyes and stand on our own two feet, to see directly without delusion and act on truth without confusion.

Translator Thomas Cleary provides an incisive introduction and extensive references from traditional Zen sources, placing the work in both historical and contemporary contexts. Newcomers to Zen will find this book a useful and sophisticated introduction to authentic inner Zen practices from an impeccable source, without cultural exoticism or religious cultism. Instant Zen sheds new light on this vital tradition, making available the immediacy of Zen practice and unveiling our innate potential for conscious awakening.

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The translation, like others of Cleary's translations, is rather poor. There is no index, there are no footnotes about translation choices and the book's introduction is a sales pitch.
Nevertheless, Master Foyan shines through. His cutting criticisms of zazen are everywhere, his explanation of the role of meditation in the Zen tradition is a rarity, his rejection of "being in the moment" directly addressed... Foyan is unusual in that those he was teaching are much like the audiences that "practice" Zen today. He gave out lots of medicine for their beliefs.
This book is not to be overlooked.

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About the author (1994)

Thomas Cleary is highly regarded as one of the greatest contemporary translators of Asian texts. Among his translations are many classic texts of Buddhism, Taoism, and I Ching studies, including The Essential Tao, Awakening to the Tao, and The Buddhist I Ching. His works have been retranslated into German, Italian, French, Turkish, Hebrew, Spanish, Czech, Thai, Indonesian, Mandarin, and other modern languages.

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