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Discovering the True Self: Kodo Sawaki's Art of Zen Meditation

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“You can’t see your true Self. [But] you can become it. Becoming your true Self is zazen.” Profound Zen Buddhism teachings explained in ordinary language from one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century, Kodo Sawaki. Having come of age as an orphan in the slums of Tsu City, Japan, Kodo Sawaki had to fight his way to adulthood, and became one of the most respec “You can’t see your true Self. [But] you can become it. Becoming your true Self is zazen.” Profound Zen Buddhism teachings explained in ordinary language from one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century, Kodo Sawaki. Having come of age as an orphan in the slums of Tsu City, Japan, Kodo Sawaki had to fight his way to adulthood, and became one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century. He had a great understanding of Dogen Zenji’s teaching and he knew how to express Dogen’s philosophy in clear, easily-understood language. Sawaki’s primary mission was to bring all people to an awareness of the Self, which he believed came through Zen meditation. His humor and straightforward talk garnered Sawaki followers from all walks of life. Though he remained poor by choice, he was rich in spirit. Two of his disciples who became known in America as well as in Japan were Kosho Uchiyama, abbot of Antaiji Temple and author of Opening The Hand of Thought, and Gudo Nishijima, Zen teacher and translator of Dogen’s Shobogenzo. A student of Kosho Uchiyama, Arthur Braverman has compiled an anthology of Sawaki’s writings and a garland of sayings gathered from throughout his lifetime. One of a few collections of Sawaki’s teachings published in English, his life and work bracket the most intriguing and influential period of modern Zen practice in Japan and America.


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“You can’t see your true Self. [But] you can become it. Becoming your true Self is zazen.” Profound Zen Buddhism teachings explained in ordinary language from one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century, Kodo Sawaki. Having come of age as an orphan in the slums of Tsu City, Japan, Kodo Sawaki had to fight his way to adulthood, and became one of the most respec “You can’t see your true Self. [But] you can become it. Becoming your true Self is zazen.” Profound Zen Buddhism teachings explained in ordinary language from one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century, Kodo Sawaki. Having come of age as an orphan in the slums of Tsu City, Japan, Kodo Sawaki had to fight his way to adulthood, and became one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century. He had a great understanding of Dogen Zenji’s teaching and he knew how to express Dogen’s philosophy in clear, easily-understood language. Sawaki’s primary mission was to bring all people to an awareness of the Self, which he believed came through Zen meditation. His humor and straightforward talk garnered Sawaki followers from all walks of life. Though he remained poor by choice, he was rich in spirit. Two of his disciples who became known in America as well as in Japan were Kosho Uchiyama, abbot of Antaiji Temple and author of Opening The Hand of Thought, and Gudo Nishijima, Zen teacher and translator of Dogen’s Shobogenzo. A student of Kosho Uchiyama, Arthur Braverman has compiled an anthology of Sawaki’s writings and a garland of sayings gathered from throughout his lifetime. One of a few collections of Sawaki’s teachings published in English, his life and work bracket the most intriguing and influential period of modern Zen practice in Japan and America.

30 review for Discovering the True Self: Kodo Sawaki's Art of Zen Meditation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Stephenson

    I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveway. I enjoyed learning more about Zen and Sawaki as this is not an area that I am extremely knowledgeable in. I think someone is more knowledgeable about Zen may enjoy this even more. It was interesting to learn more about Zen meditation (zazen) as shikantaza (just sitting). I look forward to exploring this subject more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt

    While repetitive at times of the details of Kodo Sawaki’s life, this book is particularly good at presenting the simple but difficult to practice idea of Zen meditation (zazen) as shikantaza (just sitting). In Sawaki’s words this is a “zazen that comes to nothing,” that is, goalless, without trying to do or find anything other than itself, without seeking benefit or “enlightenment.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Counterpoint Press

    In Discovering the True Self, Arthur Braverman has compiled an anthology of Kodo Sawaki’s writings and a garland of sayings gathered from throughout his lifetime, one of a few collections of Sawaki’s teachings published in English. It is a collection of profound Zen Buddhism teachings explained in ordinary language from one of the most respected Zen masters of the 20th century.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Don Flynn

    Kodo Sawaki rose from difficult beginnings to become a wise and well-respected Zen teacher. This book shares stories of him as told by those he knew, and many of his teachings. We are fortunate to still have access to them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonn

    Excellent part-biography, part collection of sayings and interviews/reflections of former students (many of whom became famous teachers in their own right), about a true modern Zen legend and true ordinary person.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Received as a GoodReads giveaway. This book is much more suited to someone who is considerably more knowledgeable about Zen than I am, but Kodo Sawaki's biography was very interesting. Not the life path that I'd envision for a Zen master. Received as a GoodReads giveaway. This book is much more suited to someone who is considerably more knowledgeable about Zen than I am, but Kodo Sawaki's biography was very interesting. Not the life path that I'd envision for a Zen master.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linus

    Excellent read on Kodo Sawaki, one of the truly great Zen teachers of the 20th century: highly recommended to anyone seriously interested in Zen and Buddhism!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rafael Ruiz

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Hickman

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott Black

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Lewin

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leseprofi

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrycjusz Pindelski

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Ferguson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cooper

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathalie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Guy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sora Tamagawa

  24. 4 out of 5

    gokokui

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zach

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy McLellan

  29. 4 out of 5

    lilach weiss

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dario William

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