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Summary

Discover how the understanding and practice of Zen can bring peace and enlightenment into your daily life in this classic work. 

Narrated by Sean Runnette, this audio program presents Alan Watts's classic bestseller, introducing Western listeners to Zen Buddhism and elaborating on the key concepts including: 

  • The history of Zen 
  • The principles and practice of Zen 
  • The tradition of Za-Zen (meditation) and the Koan 
  • The integration of Zen into every aspect of life

The Way of Zen presents an understandable, inspirational, and spiritually rewarding exploration of Zen Buddhism - a way of liberation - that may be one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world. 

©1957 Pantheon Books (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Way of Zen

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Breathtaking

Very profound read, to those who agree or disagree with the message it should still strike some intrigue. I want to read it again now. My own personal monk master

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Excellent introduction

Written with insight to both eastern and western mindsets. I enjoyed every bit of it.

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without title

How can I review the unreviewable, when all that is contained within is all there is!

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An illuminating book that I'll have to listen to several times

As the books discusses the more I try to grasp the ideas it describes the more illusive the concepts seem to be. I think the narrator is perfect. I'll be listening to this several times to hopefully get a Zen-like appreciation of its message.

3 people found this helpful

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if your into zen youll be into this

good insight to the way of zen, how you apply it in your life is your own choice, even if you have moments of zen youll benefit from this state of mind.

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Feels like a journey, just like Sapiens

Listening to this book was like an adventurous holiday from ancient India and China towards a more modern Japan. I would say that this is a more philosophical/psychological and Asian centric version of Sapiens. The Wisdom that came a long with this book is truly incredible and inspiring. Most importantly, just like haiku poetry, the wisdom is simple and applicable to daily life.

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Beautiful

A soothing philosophy laid out by a soothing mind by way of a soothing voice.

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Word-orientated rather than Experience-based

I have no complaints really with the book, I have listened to it through all the way once, and on my second time through. I think the book has a good approach though I sometimes feel it misses the point in actually conveying depth on certain ideas, and comes in at quite a 'verbose' / theoretical direction. It would be nice to actually involve some ideas about nature and the world and peace as if experienced by the author, but as I say the book feels quite word-orientated rather than experience-orientated.

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No Alan.... no dice

Without Alan Watts narrating its pointless. Terrible sibstitute to read this book; incredibly uninspiring voice.

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it's hard to judge a Zen book

the books seems to give a good idea of what Zen isn't. which as Zen goes is some achievement! if you interested is learning about Zen this will help.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-20

Not for beginners

THE AUTHOR:
I'm really glad that I waited to listen to this book. I was really tempted to get it as soon as I got interested in Zen, but read in the reviews that it was pretty advanced. I now see that this book is an easy trap for people new to Zen to fall into. Alan Watts is a big reason a lot of people become interested in Zen, and he has great talks that are enlightening and funny. There is a treasure trove of Alan Watts talks on YouTube, as well as on Audible. Instead of diving straight into this book, I got compilations of his talks; Out of Your Mind and You're It! He can get a bit in the weeds during some of the talks, but his charisma and rhetoric make it easy to listen to.

THE BOOK:
This book is one of the classics in Western Zen; it came out before Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and the Three Pillars of Zen. If you're not well versed in Zen vernacular and history however, this is not the book for you, yet! I became a Zen Buddhist over a year ago, and have read/ listened to a lot on the history and philosophy as well as joined a local Sangha, and have been practicing zazen (meditation) every day since before I even got into Zen. There were some definite moments during the book that I thought to myself 'I would be so lost a year ago.' So I can see why some people say, they get lost easily. For those who are well versed, you're in for a treat. Watts has a gift for stringing together a lot of complicated concepts and delivering them in a way that makes them extremely clear, even if you're already familiar with what he's talking about.

THE NARRATOR:
Another big reason why I was so apprehensive about getting this particular audiobook was because of my mixed feelings about what the narrator sounded like on the sample, as well as a few people in the reviews saying that he ruins an otherwise good book. I am here to say that the sample is not a very good sample of Sean Runnette's performance. Runnette has a very clear, and delicate voice. He does a great job performing Watts' words. There were many times where I felt like I was in a relaxing trance, but still paying attention. I ended up enjoying Runnette so much that I got The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau which was also narrated by Runnette, as well as Watts' Wisdom of Insecurity, and The Book also narrated by Runnettee. I guess you either love him or hate him haha.

CONCLUSION:
If you are just getting in to Zen, first of all, welcome! Do not be intimidated by some of the books and talks you may encounter. The ocean of Zen may be extremely deep and vast, but the water on the surface is no different than the water at the very bottom. Take your time with it. I would suggest a few books before you get to this one. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (you may wanna buy the actual book or the kindle version since the Audible one isn't very good), The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell, and the Dhammapada narrated by Robin Homer.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Matt Herman
  • 05-01-18

Not the best book to be heard

I like this book overall but the first few hours were not well suited to be heard. Those hours were filled with definitions of words of many different origins such as Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. I found myself drifting off during those sections. The rest of the book was very enjoyable and communicated succinctly the history and essence of zen.

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  • K. Briggs
  • 10-09-16

Good - But Not For The "Beginner"

This book had a good overall scope of Zen, however as a "beginner" I found it hard to follow at times. Those with a deeper understanding in their journey would probably benefit more than I did. I may try it again at another point in my studies.

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  • Glen
  • 06-07-16

Intersting, but way over my head.

I'm just starting my journey studying Zen. I feel this book would have been better suited, and understood, if it wasn't the first book I read on the subject.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Remington870
  • 14-04-18

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is a lot of information here. As a casual read, it might be okay, but listening from start to finish ,while driving (over the course of 2 days), was a task...definitely not a light read. Having said this, in small doses, you may enjoy it...it is just soooooo much to digest...think of reading an encyclopedia...very dry.

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  • Aaron
  • 20-11-18

Great read

I love the writings of Alan Watts. It was strange to hear them from any voice other than his.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Richard Williams
  • 16-06-18

Not as good

The one narrated by Blum is better! This is dry and the narration is not nearly as good

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jackson
  • 21-04-17

Ok but takeaway not clear

I think seeing the words would have been better than listening. I got some cool concepts from the book and learned a few things but the middle part of the book was too slow to keep my attention. I would have liked more explanation related to how to think of zen in the modern context. In that way the book seemed more on it's own in abstraction than relating to the reader on a deeper level. I'm still interested in the subject and the book enhanced my interest in some ways, but overall I wouldn't recommend this book highly.

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  • Online Buyer
  • 27-03-15

One of the best books

Where does The Way of Zen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book is in my TOP 10 list of all books.

Any additional comments?

It is the a great book about the history the history and the evolution of ZEN into its stage, which is known today. Especially the way Watts not describes it and talks about the non-describable aspects, the gaps between things in the context of eastern and western mindset make it a timeless source of inspiration.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Byron Jorjorian
  • 20-05-15

Great history and definition of Zen

Amazing book! The last chapter is almost a standalone book on Zen and well worth the money

2 people found this helpful