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  • “Upasaka” P’ang has given an excellent reply above. One additional book to consider might be “Zen Keys” by Thich Nhat Hanh.

    As P’ang has suggested, there is some range of options, all the way from simply doing Zen style meditation more or less on your own, to joining a Zen practice community, participating in a precepts ceremony, and becoming a practicing member of a Zen center.

    Something I would highly recommend at some point is to take part in a Zen meditation retreat. There is no richer way, in my experience, to receive a most profound understanding of what Zen really offers us.
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  • Whacking students with sticks or not is irrelevant, if the teacher is nothing more than a common person with no clear mind and even remote understanding of the clear light (beginning of Enlightenment).

    Zen or more appropriately Ch’an is a sect of Buddhism; and all Buddhism students required taking refuge under three jewels, not from the book or are trained by a book, but by a legitimate lineage backed teacher.

    Ch’an/Zen meditation is simple and techniques are not that complicated, and are shared by all sects of Buddhism, but the experiences of how the breathing flow and mental trips when you reach certain levels will require the guidance and protection of your teacher.

    Example, this person called me Sifu (Chinese for teacher or Teacher/ Father) – a Pilipino who practiced Zen for five years, and did not get anywhere from his Dharma Center- the Master presiding is an American trained in Japan and even got a teacher title.

    He met one of my students, and he even attended a few sessions of our practices, and he ask me about Zen Buddhism, I told him I did not know much about it, but I am willing to review his posture and breathing techniques.

    After five minutes of his session, I pointed out four or five of his problems. He claimed right away his energy flow better and became more alerted. So I encouraged him to incorporate my techniques with his practices. Second time he visited me; while we were together talking, he saw a scene from our past life together in a Buddhist event.

    Why do I bring this event up, (1) even with a teacher in large group, a teacher may not be able to catch everything you do and help you make adjustment, so how can you know if your posture is correct without someone that knows? (2) by sitting in front of him, seeing him breath and feeling his energy flowed, then I catch all of his mistakes that his teacher was unaware- because they have a large group, so how can a book correct your problems?

    And I am not even talking about all the mental trips you will begin to experience. If you don’t you are not doing it right. But if the mental experiences are off then you are not doing it right either, how can you tell without a teacher that knows?

    So go get a competent teacher, and a book is not competent enough to realize your problem from postures, breathing, and mental experiences.

    Let me stress again, if you have no mental experiences you are doing it wrong, and if your experience is off you are doing it wrong.

    You will be a biggest fool, if you believed some of the Book Buddhists’ concept- no teacher is needed in Buddhism. If you followed their advice then you will waste you precious human birth, and hopefully and may be you can try again next life?

  • Zen is primarily a practice tradition – meditation, chanting, and other practices that cultivate wisdom and compassion.

    So if you’re interested in becoming a Zen Buddhist, all you really need to do is start practicing.

    The easiest way to do this is by joining together with others at a Zen center. The teachers and senior students can guide you through the early stages of practice and then support you along the path. There are many Zen centers around the world – the link below can help you find one close to you.
    http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

    If there’s not a center nearby, you can also practice on your own. This video provides a great intro to Zen meditation – it’s quite good:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csyCrcpDs58&feature=channel_page

    There are three books I recommend. The first two give you an overview of the tradition – it’s liveliness, mischievousness, and seriousness. The third book gives more detailed instruction on the elements of Zen training.
    “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” by Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi
    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Mind-Beginners-Shambhala-Library/dp/1590302672/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199124268&sr=1-1
    “Dropping Ashes on the Buddha,” by Zen Master Seung Sahn
    http://www.amazon.com/Dropping-Ashes-Buddha-Teachings-Master/dp/0802130526/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b
    “Taking the Path of Zen,” by Robert Aitken, Roshi
    http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Path-Zen-Ppr/dp/0865470804/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206037314&sr=8-1

    Finally, please feel welcome to contact me if you have any questions. I’ve practiced Zen for 20 years.

  • Find a master to teach you. Preferably one of the ones who uses older methods, like whacking students with sticks.

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