Daily Zen Library


Zen Letters Teachings of Yuanwu

Translated by Thomas Cleary and J. C. Cleary J.C. Cleary, Thomas Cleary

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Zen Letters presents the teachings of the great Chinese master Yuanwu (1063-1135) in direct person-to-person lessons, intimately revealing the inner workings of the psychology of enlightenment. These teachings are drawn from letters written by Yuanwu to various fellow teachers, disciples, and lay students-to women as well as men, to people with families and worldly careers as well as monks and nuns, to advanced adepts as well as beginning students. A key figure of Zen history, Yuanwu is best known as the author of The Blue Cliff Record. His letters, here in English for the first time, are among the treasures of Zen literature.

Related Journal Entries

Transmitting Wisdom

Yuanwu (1063-1135) For Buddha’s pure transmission on Spirit Peak, for Bodhidharma’s secret bequest on Few Houses Mountain, you must stand out beyond categories and apart from... View Journal Entry »

A Lotus in Fire 1

Yuanwu (1063-1135) I wouldn’t say that those in recent times who study the Way do not try hard, but often they just memorize Zen stories and try to pass judgment on the ancient and... View Journal Entry »

Kindling the Inexhaustible Lamp

Yuanwu (1063-1135) By even speaking a phrase to you, I have already doused you with dirty water. It would be even worse for me to put a twinkle in my eye and raise my eyebrow to you, or rap a... View Journal Entry »

Daio’s Letters to Meditators

Daio (1235-1309) To Genan: The peak experience, the final act, as soon as you try to pursue it in thought, there are white clouds for a thousand miles. Don't stick to the ruts in the... View Journal Entry »

Move with a Mighty Flow

Yuanwu (1063-1135) When your vision penetrates through and your use of it is clear, you are spontaneously able to turn without freezing up or getting stuck amid all kinds of lightning-fast... View Journal Entry »

A Boatload of Moonlight - Letters of Yuanwu

 Yuanwu (1063-1135) The early sages lived with utmost frugality, and the ancient worthies overcame hardships and lived austerely.  They purified their will in this, forgetting food... View Journal Entry »

Hidden Treasure

Yuanwu (1063-1135) Brave-spirited wearers of the patched robe possess an outstanding extraordinary aspect. With great determination they give up conventional society. They look upon worldly... View Journal Entry »