AWAKENING TO ZEN: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau
by Philip Kapleau, Scribner 1997
Polly Young-Eisendrath, Rafe Martin (Editors)
When Roshi Philip Kapleau returned to the United States in 1966, after thirteen years of training in Japan with two of the country’s greatest masters of Zen, he “did not come home empty-handed—he brought us a living word of Zen,” Kenneth Kraft has said. The first Westerner fully and naturally at home with Zen, Roshi Kapleau has made it his life’s work to translate Zen Buddhism into an American idiom, to take Zen’s essence and plant it in American soil.
Four decades later, the seeds of Zen that Roshi Kapleau planted have blossomed. Zen flourishes and Roshi Kapleau continues to help people find enlightenment and fulfillment within, not outside, their daily lives. "
“True awakening,” Roshi Kapleau has said, “is not a ‘high’ that keeps one in the clouds of an abstract oneness, but a realization that brings one solidly down to earth into the world of toil and struggle.” Kapleau wrote a number of books in his lifetime, The Three Pillars of Zen the most well known among them, but the heart of his work, his teachings to his students, has never before been made available.
“Zen Master Kapleau has played a key role in establishing American Buddhism, founding the Zen Center in Rochester, New York, and writing such widely influential books as The Three Pillars of Zen. Now readers can experience the spirit of his ‘live’ teachings in this illuminating collection of Kapleau’s lectures, writings, and interviews, most previously unavailable to the general public. Spanning the first 30 years of Zen in America, the volume begins with a concise and resonant definition of the essence of Zen, then moves on to cogent discussions of Zen and everyday life, the practice of zazen, or seated meditation, and Zen’s perspective on death and dying. Kapleau cautions against the overintellectualizing or psychologizing of Zen; it is, after all, a spiritual practice, not an abstract theory or method for stress reduction. When asked why Zen Buddhism appeals to Westerners, Kapleau lists several reasons, including ‘peace, inner and outer, and personal experience as a replacement for abstract conjecture about fundamental questions.’” —Booklist