Right: The old Chinese character for empty shows water on the left and a box with a line through it, representing the idea "middle"
Zen Books 'n' Stuff
Zen Poster Shop
The Single Step Media Poster Shop is our sister web site that sells posters with Zen Buddhist and Taoist themes. Go to www.singlestep.info Here are some samples:
Zen Book Shop
Here are some books and a couple of micro Zen gardens that I own myself and found helpful. Click on the pictures of the books to go to the relevant page on Amazon. Personally, I like texts that are at least a few hundred years old, since they've stood the test of time. History is full of popular but specious texts that were eventually debunked. That's why this selection has so many older books.
Buddhist basics explained in a simple, clear style. Author is a modern Zen master from the Lin-Chi (Rinzai) Zen School in Taiwan. 30% off at US$10.47
Hmm . . . $11 for a book that may contain the meaning of life, or for comparison, you could buy the latest Stephen King novel for $24.50, which, I'm informed, definitely does not contain the meaning of life. As always, the choice is yours.
I found this one in the
British Museum bookshop. As you can imagine, they are pretty fussy about
what they sell. This book is a photographic reproduction of the original
illustrations and text of the famous 10 Ox-Herding pictures, that describe the
path to enlightenment. It has an excellent translation and the
reproduction is so good you feel like you are holding original 13th century
document (that's right, over 700 years old!). A great
present for a friend that likes Eastern Culture, Chinese painting or Buddhism.
Also 30% off at US$16.07
Lot's of Zen stories at around 1 page each, making it easy to read it a little at a time. The stories are charming, confusing, funny or poignant but all are lifted from genuine Zen sources. Perhaps that's why it has been on sale for decades in various versions. I keep two spare copies at home to give to friends that ask for more information about Zen. Best of all, look at the price: US$7
The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on strategies for managing your business and your life. An explanation of the Diamond-Cutting Sutra, one of the 'Big 3' sutras of the Mahayana School. Geshe Michael Roach has a serious understanding and experience of both the Buddhist and corporate worlds, making him uniquely qualified to write this book for Buddhists in business. Also features many interesting stories of the diamond trade around the world and a large section on common business problems and their karmic causes. If you are a manager and you only read two books this year, read this one, twice! 20% off at US$10.36 (possibly tax deductible).
The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma
This one really clarified for me the difference between Zen and other Mahayana teachings. Bodhidharma's sermons, recorded here in Chinese and English, the First Patriarch explains the dharma in words that were closely echoed by other Zen masters for the next 1,000 years.
My favourite is: "Mind is the Dharma (xin ye fa ye / )". US$10, what a deal!
in the Palm of Your Hand :
A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment by Pabongka (The Lam Rim)
Not strictly a Zen text, but a Mahayana one. In any case, a nun at my (Zen) temple gave me a copy years ago and it has been a good read. This is one of several versions of the Lam Rim, a Tibetan text that starts on a beginner level and takes you through to "liberation" in stages, hence the name. "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand" is not a sales pitch; it is a product description. Think about what that means. At 2lb (1kg) and 980 pages and only US$17, you certainly get your money's worth. Don't be daunted by the length; you're not supposed to read it all at once.
A standard text for the advanced class at the temple I go to. This excellent translation (by a Buddhist) of both the Buddha's Diamond Cutter Sutra and Master Hui Neng's Platform Sutra. Both texts are suitable for more advanced Buddhists. You'll need commitment and a good Mahayana teacher to explain the meaning of these Sutras (neither are part of the Theravada texts). Still, as a monk once said to me: "It's time you stopped reading about Buddhism and started reading the Buddha's actual words". 30% off at US$10.50
825 years ago Wu Men put this collection of koans together along with his
own comments. The name itself is an enigma. Wu Men's name means
Gateless and forms the first 2 out of 3 Chinese characters in the title, so you
could read the title as Wu Men's Barrier. Also the title undoubtedly
refers to the Zen concept that Enlightenment is our true nature, all around us,
yet unrealized. There is nothing stopping us from achieving it, yet here
we stand, deluded by desire.
30% off at US$14
Another great collection of koan. Over 100 years to compile. It was put together by two great Masters and burned by a third one because he wanted to discourage over-reliance on the written texts! Our situation is a little different. Most of us have no access to an enlightened master, so a record of their great moments can help us travel the same direction. WARNING LABEL: Koan are like pancakes. You are better off taking it slow, absorbing them one at a time. If you try too many all at once, they loose their flavour and you get sick of them. I recommend a quick skin for interest sake when you get the book and then a slow one at a time read. US$30
Great Book if you want to do it yourself.
Lots of pictures and background info.
32% off at US$15
Don't get too excited. It's more of a practice unit for a real Zen garden, but it's still a bit of fun that won't cost a fortune or take a lot of space. The book is not bad and the two together make an excellent way for you to plan and prepare making a larger version. US$21
Just like the small garden about except it is really, really small, (and cheap). By the way, here is a mini-Zen (ish) garden I saw in a shop window in Kyoto. Hope it gives you more ideas. US$6
with Tibetan style Chime
Wake up gently and naturally to the beautiful sounds of a gradually increasing Tibetan bell-like chime. When the clock's alarm is triggered, the laloy charm strikes just once, reverberating for nearly a minute. 3 1/2 minutes later it strikes again, and strikes become more frequent over 10 minutes, eventually striking every 4 seconds until shut off. Quartz movement with a 1-year warranty. Runs on 4 "C" batteries (not included). Constructed of hardwood with a Burgundy, Honey, Clear Maple Black finish.
Very mellow. US$100
Alarm Clock with
Clouds on the Clock Face
Wake up gently and naturally to the beautiful sounds of a gradually increasing Tibetan bell-like chime. When the clock's alarm is triggered, the laloy charm strikes just once, reverberating for nearly a minute. 3 1/2 minutes later it strikes again, and strikes become more frequent over 10 minutes, eventually striking every 4 seconds until shut off. Quartz movement with a 1-year warranty. Runs on 4 "C" batteries (not included). Constructed of hardwood with a Burgundy, Honey, Clear Maple, or Black finish. Face features a serene cloud design. Very mellow. US$100
Traditional Scroll - "Zen"
I once lived a temple in Taiwan that had a scroll very similar to this. It was at the front of the study room. I guess it was to help remind us all of why we were there (i.e. not to chat and gossip, but to practise).
The characters' meanings are the same in Chinese and Japanese, but the sounds they make are different.
Made of Rice Paper with silk edges. 27" x 35" (69cm x 89cm). US$36
|In English||In Chinese||In Japanese|
|natural energy||chi as in "Chi Gong"||ki as in "Aikido"|
scroll - "Ki / Chi"
Chi is your natural energy or life force. This character appears in a lot of traditional arts in China and Japan and forms part of words such as, health, steam, weather, feeling and more. It is not associated with any religion in particular so if you are looking for a way to add an Asian touch to a room, it may be a good choice.
Made of Rice Paper with silk edges. 27" x 35" (69cm x 89cm). US$36
Visiting Borobudur, or just want to know more?
- Golden Tales of the Buddhas
Can't get to Java and want to experience Borobudur? Want to know all about it before you go (much better than relying on local guides, most of whom are Muslim and less than fully committed to accuracy)? This book will take you through the temple phot graphically, with detailed descriptions of what it's all about historically and spiritually. At US$30, it's a lot cheaper than going there or if you are going it will double the value of the experience. Either way a good deal.
Guide to Java
If you are going anywhere in South East Asia, the Periplus Guides are unbeatable. More maps, photos and details; less bias. There's lots to do on the way to Borobudur and this guide will tell you all about it. Personally, I believe Jakarta and Bandung are underrated. US$17
If you buy and like something here, you could always make some of the kind of karma that will help you understand it. I suggest:
adding a positive review to the Amazon customer review for the book or
teach something of practical value, especially to children or
buying a second copy for your local temple, library, or an interested, Buddhist friend or
make an anonymous donation to a temple that explains the Dharma to ordinary people.
NB: As with all charity, never give so much that you regret the amount later, even a little. Don't give anything you need more than the receiver does. Accordingly, the first two suggestions are good for people with time, but no money, the second two for people with money but not time. Also, (re: suggestion #3) the Buddha recommended against preaching Buddhism to people that already have a religious "path".
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