From the dust jacket
The Linji lu (Record of Linji) has been a essential text of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism for nearly a thousand years. A compilation of the recorded sermons, statements, and acts attributed to the great master Linji Yixuan (d. 866), it serves as both an authoritative statement of Zen’s basic standpoint and a central koan text for the Linji school of Zen. Scholars regard it as important for understanding not only Zen thought but also Mahayana doctrine and East Asian thought in general, while Zen practitioners find a unique appeal in its unusual simplicity, directness, and ability to inspire.
One of the earliest attempts to translate this important work into English was by Sasaki Shigetsu (1882–1945), one of the first Zen masters to teach in the United States and the founder of the First Zen Institute of America. At the time of his death he entrusted the uncompleted project to his wife, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, who in 1949 moved to Japan and there founded a branch of the First Zen Institute. Mrs. Sasaki, determined to produce a definitive translation, assembled a team of talented young scholars, both Japanese and Western, who in the following years retranslated the text in accordance with modern research on Tang-dynasty colloquial Chinese. As they worked on the translation they compiled hundreds of detailed notes explaining every technical term, vernacular expression, and literary reference. One of the team, Yanagida Seizan (later Japan’s preeminent Zen historian), produced a lengthy introduction outlining the emergence of Chinese Chan, presenting the biography of Linji, and tracing the textual development of the Linji lu.
However, as the project neared completion in the late 1960s, Ruth Sasaki suddenly passed away. With her death the project came to a halt, except for an abbreviated version published by the Institute for Zen Studies in 1975. In the years since then several other English versions of the Linji lu have appeared, but none have been the sort of annotated, academic work envisioned by Mrs. Sasaki.
This new edition of Mrs. Sasaki’s Record of Linji makes available, for the first time, the full historical introduction and the complete body of notes compiled by Mrs. Sasaki’s team. Chinese readings have been changed to Pinyin to aid the modern reader, and the translation itself has been revised in line with subsequent research by the scholars who advised Mrs. Sasaki. The notes—nearly 600 in all—arealmost entirely based on primary references, and thus retain their value despite the nearly forty years since their prepation. They provide a rich context for Linji’s teachings, supplying a wealth of information on Tang colloquial expressions, Buddhist doctrine, and Chan history, much of which is unavailable anywhere else in English.
The revised edition of the Record of Linji is certain to be of great value to Buddhist scholars, Zen practitioners, and ordinary readers interested in Asian Buddhism.