Opening a Mountain by Steven Heine
Koans of the Zen Masters

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

unrated

Synopsis

With the growing popularity of Zen Buddhism in the West, virtually everyone knows, or thinks they know, what a koan is: a brief and baffling question or statement that cannot be solved by the logical mind and which, after sustained concentration, can lead to sudden enlightenment. But the truth about koans is both simpler--and more complicated--than this.
In Opening a Mountain, Steven Heine shows that koans, and the questions we associate with them--such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"--are embedded in larger narratives and belong to an ancient Buddhist tradition of "encounter dialogues." These dialogues feature dramatic and often inscrutable contests between masters and disciples, or between masters and an array of natural and supernatural forces: rouge priests, "wild foxes," hermits, wizards, shapeshifters, magical animals, and dangerous women. To establish a new monastery, "to open a mountain," the Zen master had to tame these wild forces in regions most remote from civilization. In these extraordinary encounters, fingers and arms are cut off, pitchers are kicked over, masters appear in and interpret each other's dreams, and seemingly absurd statements are shown to reveal the deepest insights. Heine restores these koans to their original traditions, allowing readers to see both the complex elements of Chinese culture and religion that they reflect and the role they played in Zen's transformation of local superstitions into its own teachings.
Offering a fresh approach to one of the most crucial elements of Zen Buddhism, Opening a Mountain is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the full story behind koans and the mysterious worlds they come from.
 

About Steven Heine

See more books from this Author
Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History at books on Zen Buddhism, including (with Dale S. Wright) The Koan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism (OUP). Dr. Heine was recently awarded the Kauffman Professorship in Entrepreneurship Studies at the Florida International University Business School.
 
Published January 10, 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA. 216 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Opening a Mountain

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Koans are paradoxical statements intended to derail mental business-as-usual for the Zen Buddhist student on the journey to enlightenment. A book about koans at first glance seems itself paradoxica

Oct 29 2001 | Read Full Review of Opening a Mountain: Koans of ...

Rate this book!

Add Review
×