Dosho Port Roshi further reveals the true One School of Zen: a practice beyond sects, drinking freely from myriad streams of Dharma rain. Each of the One Hundred Questions illuminates the ancient Caodong (Soto) Zen masters’ brilliant use of encounter language and koans, all pointing directly to awakening. Dosho Roshi’s book will surely open up a broader, more vibrant path for many Zen students.
- Meido Moore Roshi, Abbot of Korinji: The Rinzai Zen Community, author of The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice and Hidden Zen: Practices of Sudden Awakening and Embodied Realization
A fresh translation and commentary on a classic collection of 100 koans from thirteenth-century China.
The Record of Empty Hall was written by Xutang Zhiyu (1185–1269), an important figure in Chinese Rinzai Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism and in its transmission to Japan. Although previously little-known in the West, Xutang's work is on par with the other great koan collections of the era, such as The Blue Cliff Record and Book of Serenity.
Translated by Zen teacher Dosho Port from the original Chinese, The Record of Empty Hall opens new paths into the earthiness, humor, mystery, and multiplicity of meaning that are at the heart of koan inquiry. Inspired by the pithy, frank tone of Xutang's originals, Port also offers his own commentaries on the koans, helping readers to see the modern and relatable applications of these thirteenth-century encounter stories. Readers familiar with koans will recognize key figures, such as Bodhidharma, Nanquan, and Zhaozhou and will also be introduced to teaching icons not found in other koan collections. Through his commentaries, as well as a glossary of major figures and an appendix detailing the cases, Port not only opens up these remarkable koans but also illuminates their place in ancient Chinese, Japanese, and contemporary Zen practice.
“After my death I will come back and haunt over you, checking on your practice.” Dainin Katagiri Roshi, one of the greatest pioneers of Zen in America, said this frequently, teasing Dosho Port and his fellow students. For Dosho, Katagiri Roshi’s “haunting” still includes, to borrow a phrase from Warren Zevon, “keeping him in my heart a while”—continuing the intimate exploration of the indelible imprint that a Zen teacher leaves on a student’s heart.
Katagiri’s teaching was at once powerful, gentle, and sometimes almost even casual. For Dosho, some of the richest teachings came in these simple, casual moments during everyday interactions. The structure of this book is built around a series of such vivid truth-happening places, evocative of the ancient koans of the Zen tradition, touching on such topics as the nature and purpose of Zen, the dynamic and working of realization, and, of course, the functioning of the teacher-student relationship.