Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Theory in Practice Book

Heine, S, Wright, DS. (2008). Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Theory in Practice . 1-336. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.001.0001

cited authors

  • Heine, S; Wright, DS



  • Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Theory in Practice contains nine articles by prominent scholars about a variety of topics including Zen rituals kinhin and zazen, and covers rituals from the early Chan period to modern Japan. Each chapter attempts to describe how ritual in Zen, covering key developments that occurred in the Linji/Rinzai and Caodong/Sōtō schools in China and Japan, molds the lives and characters of practitioners, shaping them in accordance with the ideal of Zen awakening.When books on Zen Buddhism began to appear in Western languages just over a half century ago, there was no interest in the role of ritual in Zen. Indeed, what attracted interest among Western readers was the Zen rejection of ritual. The famous "Beat Zen" writers were delighted by the Zen emphasis on spontaneity as opposed to planned, repetitious action, and wrote inspirationally about the demythologized, anti-ritualized spirit of Zen. Quotes from the great Zen masters supported this understanding of Zen and led to the excitement that surrounded the opening of "Zen centers" throughout the West.Once Western practitioners in these centers began seriously to practice Zen, however, they discovered that zazen-Zen meditation-is a ritualized practice surrounded by supporting practices that have been ritualized for centuries in East Asia. Although initially in tension with the anti-ritual image of ancient Zen masters, interest in Zen ritual has increased along with the realization that ritual is fundamental to the spirit of Zen. Later Zen practitioners would connect the idea of "no-mind," or the open and awakened state of mind in which ingrained habits of thinking have given way to more receptive, direct forms of experience. This provides a perspective from which ritual could gain enormous respect as a vehicle rather than obstacle to spiritual awakening, and this volume seeks to emphasize the significance of ritual in Zen.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 336