Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice

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'Zen Sand' is a classic collection of verses aimed at aiding practitioners of koan meditation to negotiate the difficult relationship between insight and language. As such it represents a major contribution to both Western Zen practice and English-language Zen scholarship. In Japan the traditional Rinzai Zen koan curriculum includes the use of jakugo, or capping phrases. Once a monk has successfully replied to a koan, the Zen master orders the search for a classical verse to express the monk's insight into the koan. Special collections of these jakugo were compiled as handbooks to aid in that search. Until now, Zen students in the West, lacking this important resource, have been severely limited in carrying out this practice. 'Zen Sand' combines and translates two standard jakugo handbooks and opens the way for incorporating this important tradition fully into Western Zen practice. For the scholar, 'Zen Sand' provides a detailed description of the jakugo practice and its place in the overall koan curriculum, as well as a brief history of the Zen phrase book. This volume also contributes to the understanding of East Asian culture in a broader sense. The best scholarly book on actual Zen practice in Japan to appear in recent decades. --Journal of Chinese Religions This beautiful volume is recommended unreservedly. It is a major contribution to Western zen for academics and practitioners alike. --Zen Book Reviews