Home : Literature : The Seventh World of Chan Buddhism
 » Preface
Back   Index  Forward to Chapter 1, Page 1  
Kannon (Guan Yin)


by Ming Zhen Shakya

This book must be read slowly - I can't emphasize this too much.

Please take your time - not just because the style in which it's written is such that if too much is read at one sitting the sentences turn to mush, but because hurrying is so counter-productive. Instead of a gradual, unified expansion, there is just an unsatisfying jumble of parts.

Books about religion may be entertaining or not, but they are never novels. It isn't somebody else's life we're reading about. It's our own. Even the historical development of Chan can provide useful lessons if we take the trouble to relate the many tales of trial and error, of mistake and correction, to our own individual lives.

If you want to get started with an actual Chan practice, you can follow the instructions given in Chapter 10 as you read the long historical passages of the first section. Likewise, if you want to begin learning Chan psychology, you can also leave-off the history and turn to Chapter 5.

I've tried to present a fair account of modern Chinese Chan Buddhism, an account which wouldn't be offensive to those who practice other forms of Buddhism or be rejected as being too unorthodox or "western" by those who practice the many varieties of Chan. I expect complaints.

I hope that I haven't been mean-spirited just as I hope that those who object to my ideas or the way I've conveyed them will be constructive in their criticism.

When free of meanness, dissension is beneficial. Americans like to recall how Republican Abe Lincoln once commented upon the way that his Democrat opponents constantly argued amongst themselves. "They are like alley cats that fight and caterwaul all night long." said Abe, adding, "The trouble is that next morning we discover that what they were doing was making more Democrats."

For those parts that are inaccurate, absent, ambiguous or offensive. I apologize. I can only hope that in the course of voicing differing views and corrections, we make more Buddhists.

Reverend Ming Zhen Shakya (formerly Chuan Yuan Shakya)
Order of Hui Neng, Sixth Patriarch of Chan
Nan Hua Monastery, Caoxi (Ts'ao Ch'i)
Guangdong Province
People's Republic of China
May, 1988 (Revised January, 1996)
Nan Hua Zen Buddhist Society
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Seventh World of Chan Buddhism
Preface, page 1 of 1