Kaiten Nukariya attempts to explain Zen philosophy - its basic teachings and also the history of Zen and how that fit in with the history of the Japanese warrior class known as samurai. Inherent to Zen is its difficulty to explain, thus its reliance on riddles and metaphor. This audio uses these imageries to get at the deeper meanings of Zen while using plain language to describe its history, originating in India and spreading through China and Japan, and the reasons the violent samurai were attracted to this philosophy that is often considered peaceful. Nicholas Techosky performs the audiobook in a slow and straightforward manner, allowing anyone interested in Zen's philosophy, culture, or history to easily digest the material.
Zen was uniquely suited to the Samurai of Japan. The high moral principles of Buddhism, when adopted and adapted by the Japanese warriors who became the Samurai, created an austere philosophy of singular beauty and depth. Its characteristic requirements of strict control over body and mind was exemplified by ancient warrior monks whose serene countenance, even in the face of certain death, made them much admired even by their foes.
Zen may be the most misunderstood of the world's moral philosophies. While it is often classified as a Religion, it is frequently considered by its adherents to be a utilitarian philosophy, a collection of rational moral precepts or, even more simply, as a state of being. The aim of the practice of Zen is to become Enlightened and achieve the beatitude of Nirvana.
To reach Nirvana means to achieve the state of extinction of pain and the annihilation of sin. Zen never looks for the realization of its beatitude in a place like heaven, nor believes in the realm of Reality transcendental of the phenomenal universe, nor gives countenance to the superstition of Immortality, nor does it hold the world is the best of all possible worlds, nor conceives life simply as blessing. It is in this life, full of shortcomings, misery, and sufferings, that Zen hopes to realize its beatitude. It is in this world, imperfect, changing, and moving, that Zen finds the Divine Light it worships. It is in this phenomenal universe of limitation and relativity that Zen aims to attain to highest Nirvana.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I've listen to it a few times now. The book gives a great history of Zen. I also like multi-cultural approach of bringing in favorable comparisons with other popular religions like Christianity. There are great object lessons, parables, and explanations of what they mean. However, it doesn't quite cover how to actively practice or grow in the religion. It says to seek out a qualified Zen teacher for such training but that why I bought the book.
The voice sounds far too artificial. There is an inhaling sound every few words that is distracting to say the least. It makes punctuation more difficult to follow and nearly impossible to keep track of the storyline. It is the first time I am dissatisfied with an audiobook and I felt I lost $20 on this one.
"Interesting but vague."
I'm never sure what to expect from books on Eastern philosophies. I think you grow up in the West expecting quite foundational patterns of reason in a system of thought and that is rarely what you get in the East. Often they sound very anecdotal and a bit like when your mate down the pub converted to Buddhism, a lot of confused and syncretic tales. This skirts a fine line with this tradition. It just about succeeds in avoiding it but not by much. It's hard to follow on audio with the amount of unfamilar names and ideas that come up, especially as these are given in, what I assume is both Wade Giles and pinyin, or Chinese and Japanese traditions. Either way you get a lot of names thrown at you! Difficult to follow but worth the effort.
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