February 13, 2009

Book review: The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination (Sheng Yen)

This book is a collection of talks given by Master Sheng Yen in November of 1998 and June of 1999 during two meditation retreats that were held in Pine Bush, New York.  These lectures cover various aspects of the Dharma via the Caodong tradition and the discourse of Chan Master Hongzhi as well as provide instruction for meditation practice.  The text of the book itself is broken into three parts: Silent Illumination instruction, and then two sections of commentary.  The instruction sessions discuss the three “stages” of Silent Illumination, which aren’t really sequential stages and shouldn’t be thought of that way; the presentation method is simply a matter of convenience.  While interesting, the talks can border on the dense so should be read and absorbed slowly, which makes sense considering that the information was originally presented in segments followed by meditation sessions.  From Shambhala Publications and available at your local, independent bookstore.

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