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Entangling Vines, a translation of the Shumon kattoshu, is one of the few major koan texts to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Indeed, Kajitani Sonin (1914 - 95), former chief abbot of Shokoku-ji and author of an annotated, modern-Japanese translation of the Kattoshu, commented that "herein are compiled the basic Dharma materials of the koan system." Most of the central koans of the contemporary Rinzai koan curriculum are contained in this work.
A distinctive feature of Entangling Vines is that, unlike The Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Record, it presents the koans "bare," with no introductions, commentaries, or verses. Its straightforward structure lends the koans added force and immediacy, emphasizing the Great Matter, the essential point to be interrogated, and providing ample material for the rigors of examining and refining Zen experience.
Containing 272 cases and extensive note material, the collection is indispensable for serious koan training and will also be of interest for anyone drawn to Zen literature. The present translation had its origins in the discussions between three forward-looking modern Japanese Zen masters and Thomas Kirchner, an experienced Zen monk from America. And Kirchner's careful annotation of each koan makes this a brilliant introduction to Buddhist philosophy.
Thomas Yuho Kirchner, a native of Connecticut who has resided in Japan since 1969, is an ordained Rinzai Zen monk and a graduate of Otani University in Kyoto with an M.A. in Buddhist Studies. After practicing for ten years in Japanese monasteries he worked on the editorial staff at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya. He presently serves as priest at the temple Rinsen-ji in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, and is a researcher at the International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism at Hanazono University.
Nelson Foster is a Dharma heir of Diamond Sangha founder Robert Aitken and succeeded him at its Honolulu temple. He now teaches mainly at Ring of Bone Zendo in the California foothills, making periodic visits to the East Rock Sangha in New England.
Ueda Shizuteru, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University, specializes in the philosophy of religion. His areas of interest include Christian mysticism, Buddhist thought, and Kyoto School philosophy. He is a longtime practitioner of Zen meditation.
Table of Contents
Foreword Introduction Translator’s Preface Preface to the Wisdom Edition Conventions and Abbreviations
Entangling Vines, Part 1 Enrangling Vines , Part II
Reference Materials Biographical Notes Chart of Names in Pinyin Chart of Names in Wade-Giles Chart of Names in Japanese Bibliography Index