Sometimes history is cruel: A civilization starts to fall apart and a stable social order starts to unravel; upheaval and uncertainty abound. Tyrants ride high, old notions of justice vanish, and people may feel they have nowhere to turn for relief. In some ways, this is the story of human civilization.
Indeed, this is what happened to the Chinese world in the thirteenth century when the Mongol conquerors mangled China and left the Chinese social order in tatters.
This book, from one the pioneering and preeminent translators of Zen for the West, presents a selection of Zen lessons from four teachers in four successive generations whose public lives spanned a turbulent period in Chinese history. These four Zen masters were all eminent public teachers, and their teaching words reflect the state of the art of Zen teaching in their time. And they are, even now, all vividly relevant.
“Once again, Cleary’s combined expertise in Chinese history and Zen literature shines through in this highly accessible volume. Among other things, he shows convincingly that the Zen message in these teachings are timeless and that “engaged Buddhism” has always been an integral part of the true teaching, not a creation of modern Buddhists.”—Cuong Tu Nguyen, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia