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The Three Pillars of Zen

Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment
Narrated by: Sean Runnette
Length: 14 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (122 ratings)
Regular price: $31.49
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Publisher's Summary

In this classic work of spiritual guidance, the founder of the Rochester Zen Center presents a comprehensive overview of Zen Buddhism. Exploring the three pillars of Zen - teaching, practice, and enlightenment - Roshi Philip Kapleau, the man who founded one of the oldest and most influential Zen centers in the United States, presents a personal account of his own experiences as a student and teacher, and in so doing gives listeners invaluable advice on how to develop their own practices. Revised and updated, this edition features a new afterword by Sensei Bodhin Kjolhede, who succeeded Kapleau as spiritual director of the Rochester Zen Center. A moving, eye-opening work, The Three Pillars of Zen is the definitive introduction to the history and discipline of Zen.

©2000 Roshi Philip Kapleau (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"For anyone seriously interested in Zen - this book will be invaluable." ( The Times Literary Supplement)

What members say

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Guidebook on Zan Buddhism

Would you consider the audio edition of The Three Pillars of Zen to be better than the print version?

You can't compare the two because they are the same thing just in different formats. Personally I own both & the previous audible version. I much prefer the previous narrator Bodhin Kjolhede. Bodhin Kjolhede was a student of the author Roshi Kjolhede & his successor & has an authentic tone & was much more enjoyable to listen too.

What other book might you compare The Three Pillars of Zen to and why?

"Body & Mind Are One: A training In Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh. Also "Peach Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh. Both of these books along with The Three Pillars of Zen both are essentially about Buddhist philosophy. Thich Nhat Hanh's books primarily focus on the practice of mindfulness While Three Pillars of Zen is mostly a how too on two traditions of Japanese Zen Buddhism which focus on sitting & walking silent meditation, History of Zen, the authors personall training in zen in Japan & his personal practice as roshi (teacher) & how he adapted his teaching for westerners with approval of his teachers while keeping true to the traditions. Roshi Philip Kapleu founded The Rochester Zen Center in Rochester, NY whis was the first Budhist Zen center in the U.S.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator was ok. Honestly I'm partial to the narrator of the previous audible version Bodhin Kjolhede. Bodhin Kjolhede was a student of the author Roshi Philip Kapleu & his successor & has an authentic tone & was much more enjoyable to listen too.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Three Pillars of Zen is mostly a how too on two traditions of Japanese Zen Buddhism which focus on sitting & walking silent meditation, History of Zen, the authors personall training in zen in Japan & his personal practice as roshi (teacher) & how he adapted his teaching for westerners with approval of his teachers while keeping true to the traditions. Roshi Philip Kapleu founded The Rochester Zen Center in Rochester, NY whis was the first Budhist Zen center in the U.S.

Any additional comments?

You can find more information on the author & the center he founded by googeling "The Rochester Zen Center"

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Insightful....

I have read/listened to a fair amount of spiritually based books, from different practices, over the years......
this is by far the most comprehendible one so far on the understanding of zen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Enlightenment achieved

I have been slowly walking down the path not necessarily to enlightenment but to awareness. I was riding on a tractor at night on the farm spreading manure while listening to the audio version of this book. While listening to the koan “mu” I dissolved into the universe. Tears and joy alternated as I was one with the awareness. My lasting impact is like others with near death experiences where seeing my eternal me has freed me from the fear of death. Forever grateful for all those seen and unseen that guided me to this awareness.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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inspired my meditation practice

Having come to Zen from other disciplines, I found this book to be helpful in defining Zen from other kinds of meditation. Descriptions of retreat experiences inspired me to try one myself. Diary entries of those who became enlightened are very helpful in navigating my zazen sit experiences.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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10/10 would read again

If you're thinking about listening, please do.
It's a very comprehensive and insightful introduction? To zen

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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there is no way you miss this jewel

Eye opener, i feel I know about Zen now, it delivers so much value. So rich in content, it is definitely an essential one. altogether beautiful and easy to get through, a pleasure to listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mullikens
  • 01-12-18

great book and wonderfully narrated by S. Runnette

Unforgettable stories, experiences and a guide for livinh. Quite moving. This book is a classic, but brought to life by the narrator, Sean Runnette.
Thanks

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathan Hoskins
  • 08-16-17

Best book on Zen...

I’ve practised Zen for a few years now and read several books on the subject. This is undoubtedly my favourite ‘how to’ guide to Zen. Much of the Zen literature can be cryptic and difficult to relate to for the Western beginner’s mind or as in the case of Alan Watt’s popular book on the subject; glaringly mistaken in its lackadaisical ‘anything goes’ interpretation of how to practice it. This book is clear, concise and detailed but it does not lose any of the flavour of the profound mystery that the practice of Zen opens the practitioner up to or the will and discipline which may be required. The choice of Sean Runnette as narrator could not be a better one. He is the voice of Zen after also narrating Alan Watt’s book but this time his words are actually true to the spirit and practice of the subject. I could not recommend this more for the beginner or the more experienced practitioner who like me has lost their may and may need reminding of the fundamentals of Zazen practice.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-14-18

Required reading for the Zen aspirant or home Zen practitioner

Clear
Useful and applicable content
Well narrated and superbly written.

As timeless as its subject

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-30-18

Disappointed

I found this too in depth with unnecessary detail. Also found the narrators voice dull.
Not an interesting listen !!

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  • Kishore Shah
  • 12-21-18

Three Pillars of Zen

Outstanding !!!
Highly recommend to others interested in Zen and Zazen
Immensely helpful for my own development of Zen and Zazen.
Loved all the stories and how Zen masters have their own ways.
Very good narration by Sean Runnette !!!!!

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  • Adam C.
  • 12-14-18

great.

If you're slightly interested in zen and it's history then read this, if you're not then still read it.

Narrator somehow improves what is already an amazing book.

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  • Abraham
  • 08-24-18

the best book on Zen for beginners and advanced

I was skeptical but f this book since I had been practicing Zen for a while and thought this was an introduction of sorts. Man I wish I had come across this first before any others. My understanding has increased exponentially and regardless of what stage of practice you're at or if you've never heard of Zen before, if you are genuinely interested; if there is a part of you that wants to earnestly know, pick this book up.

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  • SJRod
  • 10-27-17

Amazing... a must read

There are so many books available on Zen and yet this great classic is always on the top of the list. I really enjoyed the content as well as the performance.

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  • Philippe Bourse
  • 03-16-19

An intellectual view of Zen only

For a so called zen teacher Kapleau uses a lot of egotistical and opinionated language to talk about what is involved in reaching enlightenment, which is bizarrely contradictory to the topic. He comes across as quite arrogant and immature as he tries to convince the listener that he is a true authority on Zen and seems disgruntled for some reason as he continually puts down other authors that have written about Zen such as Alan Watts, D.T Suzuki, R.H Blyth and Christmas Humphreys. I’ve read the books from those authors and they all have more ‘Zen’ than Kapleau could ever comprehend. Kapleau does give a lot of interesting detail about Zen practice, so if you want a purely intellectual and technical understanding of Zen, then this book would suit your needs. However, if you’re looking for a true immersion into the feeling and essence of Zen then I’d recommend reading those other authors and avoid Kapleau. It’s actually really funny how he often displays the ignorance and lack of awareness that he writes about. It made me laugh a few times at how ironic it is. Kapleau is also very 'serious' about Zen practice where I prefer Alan Watts more casual outlook to be 'sincere', rather than 'serious', which Kapleau describes as 'lackadaisical'. Kapleau needs to relax a little and get off his high horse.

I’m also not a fan of the narrator Sean Runnette. He's okay, but not brilliant like some narrators out there. I'm not sure why he often gets chosen to read Zen books as his atmosphere just doesn't feel appropriate for Zen. I find his voice does take me some time to get used to before I can get into what he's saying. I’ve listened to some amazing Audible books recently and given many 5 star ratings, but this book left me with an unpleasant feeling.