The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice by Meido Moore, Shambhala, US $16.95, Pp 206, March 2018, ISBN 978-1611805178
Rinzai Zen is one of the two main forms of Zen Buddhism that are known and practiced in the West. It is known for its discipline and emphasis on ‘koan’ practice. The main goal of Rinzai Zen is to recognize the true human nature and the universe. This experience known as ‘kensho’ (seeing one’s true nature) is only the beginning of a life of refining and practicing that discovery. The Zen school began in China in the sixth century C.E. Zen emphasizes the primacy of realization and the necessity of continued refinement of their experience. Even within Zen Buddhism, different styles of expression developed. The school of Zen associated with Rinzai (d. 866) is known for its dynamic style and its emphasis on the body — all activity can be meditation and wisdom must manifest in every action of the realized person. The Rinzai School first became the dominant school of Zen in China and was eventually transmitted to Japan. In the twentieth century, Omori Sogen Roshi, one of the foremost Japanese Rinzai Zen masters, transmitted to the West.
In The Rinzai Zen Way, Meido Moore introduces the fundamentals of Rinzai Zen. He introduces the distinctive approach to training in Zen within the larger context of Buddhist practices. He also gives instructions in Zen training in a manner suitable for beginners. Meido Moore says that the lifeblood of Zen practice lies within the relationship between teacher and student. Meido Roshi is an authority on Zen Buddhism. He received “inka shomei” (mind seal), which designated him an 86th-generation Zen dharma heir and a 48th-generation holder of the lineage descended from Rinzai Gigen. He is the abbot of Korinji, a Rinzai monastery in the United States. He says that though our way does not conflict with the essential meaning of the sutras, it is not actualized through them. It is actualized within our own body, and specifically through the joining together of our mind with that of your teacher.
Meido Moore says while the sutras, commentaries, records of the Zen patriarchs and other Buddhist writings all point to the awakening and its actualization, which are the Zen path, these texts (as well as writings of values from other traditions) must ultimately be viewed as a description of awakening or realization. In other words, one might not be able to awaken simply by reading the descriptions. They are hints, pointers, and maps. But they are not themselves to be relied upon or set up as sufficient, except inasmuch as you are able to make them come alive within your own body. He says that Zen’s general approach is the transmission of Zen occurs ‘mind to mind’ within the vital, intimate relationship between teacher and student. He says that the wisdom and path of Zen may be described within the Buddhist writings but will not be completed through intellectual understanding alone.
The Rinzai Zen Way is an important addition to the literature on the history, principles, and practices of Rinzai Zen Buddhism for beginners. Meido Moore provides detailed easy-to-understand instruction to practice in the light of the teachings of Japanese Omori Sogen tradition within the Tenryu-Ji tradition of Rinzai Zen. It covers the spirits of Zen practice so thoroughly and offers practical advice that people with the knowledge of the subject will also benefit from it. If you are already on the Zen path or about to take it, this should be your next stop. If you are curious and want to know more about the Rinzai Buddhism, The Rinzai Zen Way is what you should be looking for.