I've read quite a bit of Zen literature, including translations of the original sutras, koans, etc. but I'm most disappointed in this tape. The tape, and I assume the book, has the quality of a harangue, with the reader constantly admonishing the listener. Much of the tape has the form, . . ."and if you don't understand this, you will never understand anything about Zen." After a while, it grows tiring. Buddha didn't phrase his lectures as cryptic, snide criticisms of his audiences capacity for enlightenment, and that's how this tape comes across. In contrast, listen to "The Teachings of Zen: Master Dogen" for a deep and empathic description of Zen philosophy.
I am a Buddhist, have studied formally in all three main branches of Buddhism and was a monk during the most intense part of my study. I own hundreds of Buddhist texts, and if I could only own one book, this would be it. This is absolutely the clearest expression of Enlightenment I've encountered. Foyan is wonderously clear, avoids reliance on Koan's and historical cases (but has a few references to them), and instead, simply expresses Realization on his own, directly, brilliantly, in every sentence of this book. A previous reviewer wrote (in his excellent review) "Logical contradictions are purposely employed to get you to see something beyond logic", while there are a few statements like that, that is a slight misunderstanding of why most of the apparently "contadictions" are there (with due respects to the reviewer, no insult is intended). Instead these "contradictions" are direct expressions of the Truth of Reality, and that requires 1) that you see directly and don't confuse the labels for the reality itself and 2) that everything be seen simultaneously from both sides (the relative or functional view and the absolute). So a statement such as "you must have nonseeing right in seeing" or
"all that is necessary is that there is no hearer or heard when you hear" is presenting both sides, not negating one with the other. However, there are statements such as "the ancients told you.. all sounds are Buddha's voice... You have misunderstood, supposing that all sounds are actually the voice of Buddha" that appears to be a contradiction, but again this is pointing out (POINTING not explaining) the diffence between the understanding and the perception of that truth. I've said much too much, the Zen Master would be beating me over the head with the stick by now. You will enjoy this book, and you will hear the voice of Enlightenment speaking across 9 centuries of time, if you get this book, you'll need no others, and eventually you can give this one away. My Highest recommendation.