The greater the doubt, the greater the awakening.
“In this brief but remarkably thorough book, Boshan puts into words what it means to truly doubt. Not just to be skeptical—but to push all the way to the very foundations. Anyone interested in Zen can learn a whole lot from this little book.”
—from the foreword by Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen
“Great doubt and great faith are foundations of Zen practice. This great gift of a book provides essential checkpoints along the path.” —Grace Schireson, author of Zen Women
“Upbeat, insightful, and inspiring teachings—a rich resource for all Buddhist practitioners.”—Richard M. Jaffe, Duke University, author of Neither Monk nor Layman
“Boshan addresses the reader directly with vivid metaphors and stern (sometimes humorous) admonishments. He pulls no punches… These concise texts, not previously available in their entirety in English, offer classic wisdom for those exploring the Zen paths.”—Publishers Weekly
“A classic Chinese text with clear—and inspiring—commentaries”—Thomas Yuho Kirchner, translator of Entangling Vines
Two short texts on the Zen concept of "great doubt" by Boshan (1575 1630), a Chinese Buddhist master also known as Wuyi Yuanli and Dayi, have been translated by Shore, professor of Zen in the modern world at Kyoto's Hanazono University (a private institution affiliated with the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen). Making use of the rhetorical device of parallelism, the short sections in "Exhortations for Those Who Don't Rouse Doubt" and "Exhortations for Those Who Rouse Doubt" address ways the agile human mind can evade or disrupt the experience of great doubt, which Shore calls a "foundation of Zen practice." In this clear, lively translation, Boshan addresses the reader directly with vivid metaphors and stern (sometimes humorous) admonishments. He pulls no punches as he describes myriad hazards and pitfalls, including intellectualization, attachment to calm meditation, speculation, emptiness, asceticism, and "putting on airs," that allow one to decisively, in Shore's words, "seal... off every possible escape" from certainty. Shore provides a helpful overview of great doubt and a brief commentary that puts Boshan's advice in perspective for modern practitioners. These concise texts, not previously available in their entirety in English, offer classic wisdom to those exploring Zen paths.