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The Golden Age of Zen: Zen Masters of the T'ang Dynasty

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The Golden Age of Zen
Zen Masters of the T'ang Dynasty

John C.H. Wu (Wu Ching-Hsiung)

Foreword by Kenneth Kraft

Original Introduction by Thomas Merton

World Wisdom 

ISBN: 0-941532-44-5


This book gives a fascinating survey of the early years of Chinese Zen (Chan) Buddhism, staying focused on the movement of Buddhism to the land where the Tao and Confucianism flowered. Wu's survey, combined with interesting translations from these earliest Zen masters, reveals a time of spiritual vibrancy and powerful personalities that help explain the later developments of Zen with which western readers are more familiar.

The book itself starts with a very interesting and clear history of the development of Zen, tracing its roots in early Indian Buddhism through its contact with Chinese traditions such as Taoism and Confucianism, and up to the arrival of Bodhidharma in China, probably at the beginning of the sixth century. Unlike many studies which quickly move on to the establishment of Zen in Japan, Wu keeps us in China, focused on Bodhidharma and his immediate successors.


With translations from primary materials such as the only writing that has been attributed to Bodhidharma and other similar early works of Chinese Zen literature, we are given a detailed tour of those vibrant times and come to understand the personalities of the early saints of Zen.

The Golden Age of Zen contains a new foreword written by Kenneth Kraft as well as the original introduction written by 
Thomas Merton

Wu Ching-Hsiung, also known as John C. H. Wu, was an author, lawyer, juristic philosopher, educator, and prominent Catholic layman. He was president of the Special High Court at Shanghai, vice chairman of the Legislative Yuan's constitution drafting committee, founder of the T'ien Hsia Monthly, translator of the Psalms and the New Testament into Chinese, and served as Chinese minister to the Holy See (1947-48). Wu authored and translated numerous books and articles on many subjects including Religion, Philosophy and Law.