Review of Zen and Material Culture edited by Pamela D. Winfield and Steven Heine

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Book Review

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I found this collection of essays surprising in some of what they do and how they do it. I was expecting chapters describing and analyzing such classical instructions as found in Dōgen's "Merit of a Kasaya" section of Shōbōgenzō, which has a certain value in Introduction to Buddhism or Zen classrooms. In contrast, the main strength of this book results from the creativity of the writers, who are not afraid to offer rather unusual insights into key components of Zen's material culture. This contrasts to other scholarship more typical of Buddhist studies that take a strict philological approach to the subject. Instead, some of the authors in this book suggest radically alternative interpretations to what has been accepted about Zen and material culture...