I recently found myself trying to explain to a friend the different flavors of zen/ Ch'an. My experience of this book made me see that one of the most important differentiations of the varieties of zen is the degree of emphasis on the Bodhisattva practice, and how these are explained. The Japanese practices put little emphasis on the idea of the practicer becoming (or being) a Bodhisattva, a selfless entity who intentionally reincarnates for the sole purpose of helping others.
Naturally, we begin serious practice with the idea of helping ourselves. As we cultivate the recognition that our "self" is not real (so who is there to help?), we may choose to re-orient our practice to the pledge of helping all sentient being, for as long as it takes. And that's where this book comes in. Committing to Bodhisattva vows, one loses concern about the "if" and "when" of the "enlightenment" experience, as one then knows that this will occur in the due course of the Bodhisattva practice. ( . . . ) (OOPS! There goes "the ending" ;-)
If one buys into the Bodhisattva trip after reading this book, the next giant step is reading the "Avatamsaka Sutra" and the study of Hua Yen Buddhism ("Entry into the Inconceivable"). Thanks to Thomas Cleary.
Theravadin ("Hinayana") practicers will appreciate the thorough explanation of how Hinayana and Mahayana practices fit together. Anyway, "Complete Enlightenment" will help any zen practicer to see where his practice fits, in the zen grand scheme of practices. MAKE A BUDDHA! :-)
This is the definitive translation of one of the most important sutras in the Mahayana literature. A previous translation by Charles Luk and published through Samuel Weiser did not capture some of the nuances and depths that the current version portrays. The translator, Ven. Guo-Gu Shi, did a wonderful job. Cultivators who do not practice will have a hard time understanding the importance of this Sutra. However, for serious cultivators, this Sutra provides important and step-by-step guideposts that are critical for one's own verification and further progression. This Sutra will have to be studied many times until its meaning can be completely digested. Master Sheng-yen's commentary is given in simple laymen's language and is a joy to read. In the past few years Master Sheng-yen has clearly emerged as one of the main masters of Ch'an (Zen) in the Western world.