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The Way of Ch'an:

Essential Texts from the Original Tradition


This landmark anthology illuminates the true story of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism’s historical development in China. Here we have the essential source-material in its own native understanding, free of the mistranslation and misrepresentation that has characterized it in the modern West. As such, The Way of Ch’an offers a revolutionary understanding of Ch’an as a Buddhist-inflected form of Taoism, China's native system of spiritual philosophy. This authentic Ch’an was a radical and wild practice cultivating a deeply ecological form of liberation: the integration of mind and landscape/earth/Cosmos. Hinton’s accessible introductions guide us through texts that build from seminal Taoism through all stages of classical Ch’an—a tradition of zany and profound sages revealing Ch’an’s original form of awakening each in their own way. It’s a roller-coaster of voices and insights across thousands of years: The Way of Ch’an is a thrilling ride!

Praise for Hinton's Previous Ch'an Books:

Hinton’s deep understanding of the Taoist roots of Ch’an shine a light on the Zen practice of today, taking us back in a thrilling way beyond the Japanese rigor and aesthetics, beyond the mythical T’ang Dynasty flourishing of Ch’an’s great ancestors, back to its Taoist roots in the first millennium BCE—and even beyond them, into the mists of its Paleolithic origins.

                                     —Henry Shukman Roshi


Hinton is after . . . depth and boundlessness.

                                    —New York Review of Books


I love this book! . . . unique and powerful . . . opens doors to the heart of Zen.

                                    —Joan Halifax Roshi


David Hinton is a fabulous translator. This book is luminous and transparent. You can see the light of the original Chinese masters shining through.

                                   —John Tarrant Roshi

. . . a national treasure . . . Hinton cracks open the cosmos and takes you into the depths of the mind.


                                   —Lion’s Roar Magazine


                  — from the book jacket



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