Sunday, April 12, 2015

"The Compass of Zen" is such a Gem

"Compass of Zen" is a book compilation of the teachings by Zen Master Seung Sahn.  When I first got to know of this book, I remember I saw a synopsis of it or saw the table of contents, or something and developed this idea that it is a book I could give a miss. After all, I thought I knew already those subjects on "Hinayana Buddhism" such as the Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path and on "Mahayana Buddhism topics such as the six paramitas, the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, etc.

I was mistaken.

The book turned out to be such a gem. The excellent Zen Master  explained each topic but unlike other books, cuts through all the wordy "crap"... and in Zen style, directly points to the key message of that topic. For example, most Buddhist Masters would say the 2nd Noble Truth as the cause of suffering. He directly informed the readers that the 2nd Noble Truth is the 12 Dependent Originations. And the 3rd Noble Truth is the reverse of the 12 Dependent Originations. By reversing the order, we are able to end suffering, which is the traditional way of explaining the 3rd Noble Truth.

Another example. You would think that the Diamond Sutra is about emptiness. According to Master Seung Sahn, the Diamond Sutra actually provides a bridge for a person to cross from the Hinayana view to the Mahayana view. And the Mahayana view centres a lot on the bodhisattva way.  In a recent teaching I have attended, which is a teaching by Yangsi Rinpoche, of Maitripa College, he also excellently condensed the entire teaching on this same Sutra by saying that this Sutra is on the Relative and Ultimate Bodhicitta.  I have never thought of the Diamond Sutra as a Sutra on bodhicitta. So, yes, we can see that mind of Zen Master Seung Sahn and that of the Tibetan Lama converges on the meaning of this Sutra as far as (at least) that it is about the bodhisattva way besides the view on emptiness.

I don't have the luxury of time as before to write long articles. So, this is my short comment on the book "the Compass of Zen" by Zen Master Seung Sahn. It is a publication by Shambala. Do get this book if you have been learning about Mahayana and wants a refreshing view of what you have learned. For those of you who are into Zen practice, I would say that this book is indispensable.

My prostrations to the excellent Zen Master!

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