Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Mirror of Zen

At the College of Zen Buddhist Studies/Buddhist Studies Institute - LA, I teach a couple of classes. One of them uses "The Mirror of Zen" by Korean Zen Master So Sahn as the textbook. In the book, ZM So Sahn picked out 86 readings from various Buddhist texts. He then added some commentaries and a few capping verses. There are also a few Koans in there as well, so it really covers the gamut of Korean Buddhism.

Here is the way the class is described on the college web site:
From the preface: "If you were to comb the mountains and valleys of Korea, polling every meditating monk and nun and hermit and ascetic as to the most necessary, essential, inseparable compendium of teachings apart from the Buddha's sutras themselves, chances are that most of them would choose The Mirror of Zen. It is by far the most quoted, most cited, most referred-to text in the tea rooms and teaching halls of the Zen temples in Korea."

Its author was Zen Master So Sahn who was born in 1520 in what is now North Korea. He became a monk at 21 and during his lifetime he assumed leadership positions at both the Zen and Sutra schools of Korean Buddhism. For this book, he chose 86 teachings from the Buddhist canon as the essence of of Zen. He also added commentaries, gathas, and capping phrases for our benefit.

In this course we will study this great book. The class will consist of reading assignments, video lectures, forum activities, quizzes and of course, a professor will be available. The ultimate goals of this class are first introducing us to this great book and ultimately together we will learn from a great Zen Master of the past.
The purpose of this post is to briefly introduce this book. From time to time, I will be posting readings from this book and commenting on them. There is some really neat stuff in this text and I am very fortunate to be able to share it with others. Hopefully you will find it useful as well!