Ordinary Human Language

by Brian Crane

The Way of Zen

-Book Cover

A history of Zen Buddhism. The first chapter–a more general history–was a repeat of Conze’s book. There wasn’t much difference between the two, but where there was, Watts strikes me as the less credible.

The Zen practice section gets caught up in the details of minor conflicts about monastic and lay life over the centuries. It’s dull going, but as a whole showed the extent to which Zen focuses on a practice (a very physical one it seems to me) rather than a philosophical one based on mastery of knowledge. To an extent that means it’s forgiving of variation rather than orthodox.

To beat the same drum, I walked away from this book more convinced than ever that Buddhism is not a religion, and that to the extent it appears to be this arises from “skill in means.”

June 2011. Gingee/Pondicherry, India

The Way of Zen

Posted August 22, 2011