IN THE BELLY OF THE DRAGON
A Zen Monk’s commentary on the Shinjinmei by Master Sosan (D. 606)
The Shinjinmei is the first of Zen’s four fundamental texts. Thus, it is central to all Zen lineages and schools, and an essential source of study for all Zen practitioners. Here, Philippe Coupey, reflects on each of the 73 verses of this famous text. His remarks are not based on scholarly studies, as for some well-known translators, but on the understanding transmitted through a lineage of practice, teaching and commenting on the Shinjinmei by great teachers and masters of the traditions, including Coupey’s own teacher Taisen Deshimaru.
Zen today is often coopted by the dominant marketing paradigm, with all types of products branded this way, and loses its potency when it devolves into yet another form of relaxation. Not so here. Coupey reflects a raw, unreserved approach. His commentaries are also more exhaustive and detailed than others published so far. People who are tired of self-development “Zen” books might find real answers (and questions) here.
The underlying message of the Shinjinmei is to avoid clinging to the extremes–left and right, good and bad, love and hate. The opening stanza reads: “Entering the Way is not difficult, But you must not love, or hate, or choose, or reject.” This clinging leads to the separation of one thing from another and is therefore the origin of many of the big problems in society today.
The first half of this book (verses 1-31, originally published as volume one, with the same title, In the Belly of the Dragon) were the result of eight years of teaching lectures (kusen) during which Coupey made oral commentary on the text. The remainder of the book (verses 32-73) was created more recently as written essays. The style of these presentations is less formal, and more intimately represents the dynamic spirit of the author’s practice. The entire collected work vivifies the ancient Zen text for modern students of the Way and is a valuable resource for all those interested in Eastern thought and religion.
|Hohm Press, Prescott Arizona, 2020|
|paperback 5.5 X 8.5 inches|
No Place Like Hohm
Zen, Simply Sitting is published by Hohm Press, a publishing house founded by the Western Baul guru Lee (“Mr. Lee”) Lozowick (1943-2010).
Phlippe Couepy and Lee Lozowick at the Café de la Liberté, Paris Montparnasse