Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003. Compiled, Translated and Annotated by Victor Sogen Hori. Royal octavo, 24 x 16.7 cm, 764 pages. Preface, Introduction (six sections: Nature, Steps and Literary Study in Koan Practice; Koan and the Chinese Literary Game, History of Zen Phrase Books and Guide to Conventions and Abbreviations), Phrases (pp.101-636), Glossary, Bibliography, Index. As new. Item #845
This compendium of texts central to Zen practice is impressive in its range of information for students of Zen and Buddhism. It also offers readers insights into the history and culture of East Asia. Zen Sand, a classic collection of verses aimed at aiding practitioners of koan meditation in negotiating the difficult relationship between insight and language, is a major contribution to Western Zen practice and English language Zen scholarship. In Japan the traditional Rinzai Zen koan curriculum includes the use of jakugo or “capping phrases”. On a monk’s successful reply to a koan, the Zen master orders a search for a classical verse to express the monk’s insight into the koan. Jakugo collections were compiled as handbooks to aid such searches; Zen Sand, which combines and translates two standard jakugo handbooks, provides this important resource. Many of the capping phrases presented here are drawn from celebrated Zen masters, Buddhist sutras, classic Taoist and Confucian texts, and famous Chinese histories and poems, well known to educated readers in China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The compiler of Zen Sand, Victor Sogen Hori, holds a PhD from Stanford, CA, USA, trained as a Zen monk in Kyoto and spent 13 years in Japanese monasteries, and was later appointed Professor of Japanese Religions at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.