The song of Zen
Author: Shohaku Okumura Roshi
Our existence is like a hand. Each finger is independent, has a unique shape and function, yet it always works together with the other fingers. It is the same for human beings as individuals: we can only be a finger in relation to other fingers that operate as one hand. Although this is the reality of human life, we are unaware of it and are convinced that we are the center of the universe. We have to return to the reality that precedes self-centeredness. Shòhaku Okumura róshi explores in this book the rich Zen tradition of the sung liturgy, demonstrating how effective it is both in supporting meditation and in expressing and at the same time encouraging the vow to lead a life marked by the pursuit of freedom and compassion. The psalmody of these verses is indeed, according to Okumura, the very expression of this reality of mutual interpenetration with all beings. A master and profound student of Zen Buddhism, Okumura draws on his experience to illustrate the meaning, implications, and practical importance of the sutras and chants. His vast knowledge of literature allows him to highlight the complex network of cultural and historical influences that permeate these texts. Fundamental texts of the Zen tradition are commented: the four vows of the bodhisattva, the verse of repentance, the verse of the Three Refuges, the psalmody of the dressing, the psalms of the meal, the Sutra of the heart, the Sandòkai.