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    Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

    A Classic Zen text written in the 8th century by Hui Hai. He was a student of Ma-tsu and from the same line as Hui Neng, Huang Po and Rinzai (Lin-chi).

  • Don't Take Your Life Personally

    Ajahn Sumedho urges us to trust in awareness and find out for ourselves what it is to experience genuine liberation from mental anguish and suffering.

  • Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita Texts

    The Short Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as The Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, The Heart Sutra, and The Diamond Sutra.

  • Fingers and Moons, by Trevor Leggett

    Trevor Leggett points to the truth beyond words, beyond explanations and methods.

  • Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation and the reflections of an ordinary practitioner. Used as a guide by meditation groups.

    An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation.

  • Understanding Karma and Rebirth A Buddhist Perspective

    Meditations and exercises to help us understand karma and rebirth and to live from the unborn moment.

  • The Old Zen Master by Trevor Leggett

    Stories, parables, and examples pointing to the spiritual implications of practical events in daily life.

  • Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

    Modern practical teachings from an American monk living within one of the oldest Buddhist traditions.

Shakyamuni Descending from the Mountain

Shakyamuni Descending from the Mountain.
15th century, Japan.
© Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shakyamuni Descending from the Mountain. 15th century Culture: Japan. © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shakyamuni renounced the world and went into the mountains to become an ascetic when he was twenty-nine years old. Unable to reach enlightenment even after six years of rigorous austerities, he departed in great disillusionment. He resolved to continue his search, not by challenging his physical endurance but through disciplined meditation.

Shakyamuni Descending from the Mountain. 15th century Culture: Japan. © Metropolitan Museum of ArtThis subject developed importance only in the practice of Zen Buddhism; it was neglected by all of the other sects, which instead emphasized the glory of the Buddha’s final enlightened state. Zen Buddhists saw in this episode the ideal of Shakyamuni as teacher: his sincere and high-minded striving, despite its initial fruitlessness, served as a model for their own practice. It was customary in Zen temples to venerate images of Shakyamuni descending from the mountain, or of Shakyamuni undergoing austerities, on 8th December [Rohatsu], the traditional date of the Buddha’s enlightenment. This unusual half-length portrayal departs from the traditional, more narrative convention that depicts a full figure of Shakyamuni descending from the mountain. Instead, it adopts the format used for portraits of Zen masters, which focuses attention on the facial features. Here, these reveal a man exhausted and downcast but unwavering in his resolve.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
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New York, New York 10028-0198
Phone: 212-535-7710

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