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The Blue Cliff Record (Paperback)

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By Thomas Cleary (Translated by), J.C. Cleary (Translated by)
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Staff Reviews

This is a collection of zen koans. How to talk about it? It's dense. It laughs at you, it whacks you behind the knees with a stick. It uses language to un-do what language has done, and if you think you get it, game over. I am constantly revisiting these koans and constantly learning how to read them. What I've found is that studying them is like climbing over walls of thought and self only to find another, and another, until I find what seems like a way out, then suddenly have to start all over again. It is as beguiling as it is joyous, and I can't help but laugh back at it. I recently read words that described it as "pure poetry." I think that's right. One of the most important books I've ever read. 

— From Madison's Picks!


The Blue Cliff Record is a translation of the Pi Yen Lu , a collection of one hundred famous Zen koans accompanied by commentaries and verses from the teachings of Chinese Zen masters. Compiled in the twelfth century, it is considered one of the great treasures of Zen literature and an essential study manual for students of Zen.

About the Author

Thomas Cleary holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the translator of over fifty volumes of Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, and Islamic texts from Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Pali, and Arabic.

J. C. Cleary holds a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. He has translated several books of Zen literature, including Zen Dawn.

Praise For…

"The cases comprising [this volume] are meticulously yet gracefully rendered, and should make this classic welcome to both scholars and Zen students, and even casual readers. A nice addition is the inclusion of biographical information about the Chinese masters."—Library Journal

"The Blue Cliff Record reveals to us what enlightenment is, what the enlightened life is, how the patriarchs and masters of old struggled with it, attained it, actualized it, and accomplished it. . . . I firmly believe this translation is a milestone and will immensely benefit those who are sincerely engaged in the practice and the enlightenment of the Buddha-way."—from the foreword by Taizan Maezumi Roshi
Product Details
ISBN: 9781590302323
ISBN-10: 159030232X
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: April 12th, 2005
Pages: 688
Language: English