A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace

The Zen Teaching of Huangbo with a Modern Commentary

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About The Book

Penetrate the nature of mind with this contemporary Korean take on a classic of Zen literature.

The message of the Tang-dynasty Zen text in this volume seems simple: to gain enlightenment, stop thinking there is something you need to practice. For the Chinese master Huangbo Xiyun (d. 850), the mind is enlightenment itself if we can only let go of our normal way of thinking.

The celebrated translation of this work by John Blofeld, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, introduced countless readers to Zen over the last sixty years. Huangbo’s work is also a favorite of contemporary Zen (Korean: Seon) Master Subul, who has revolutionized the strict monastic practice of koans and adapted it for lay meditators in Korea and around the world to make swift progress in intense but informal retreats. Devoting themselves to enigmatic questions with their whole bodies, retreatants are frustrated in their search for answers and arrive thereby at a breakthrough experience of their own buddha nature.

A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace is a bracing call for the practitioner to let go and thinking and unlock the buddha within.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (April 30, 2019)
  • Length: 376 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781614295303

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Raves and Reviews

“Although not often highlighted in popular Buddhist books, Korean Zen teachers have played a crucial role in the preservation, continuation, and reinterpretation of the Chinese Zen tradition since medieval times. This commentary on the teachings of the great Chan master Huangbo (d. 850) by an eminent contemporary Korean Seon master introduces Western readers and practitioners not only to that vital role but also to the vitality of the contemporary Korean Zen tradition. Seon (Zen) Master Subul is a preeminent teacher of ganhwa Seon, “the Zen of examining meditative topics,” and he orients his approach to Huangbo’s text around this technique, thus combining the best of medieval Chinese Zen and contemporary Korean Zen. This book should be inspiring to serious practitioners of Zen, in particular, but also to all Buddhist practitioners.” 

– Mu Soeng, Resident Scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies

“How wonderful to have a clear new translation of the Zen teachings of Huangbo, one of the greatest masters of Zen’s golden era. Korean Seon Master Subul’s commentary is a marvelous addition to the original text, adding refinement to the meaning. Strongly suggested reading for all practitioners.” 

– Richard Shrobe, guiding teacher, Chogye International Zen Center of New York

"This meticulous and beautiful translation of a contemporary Korean Zen master's commentary on a Chinese Buddhist classic will benefit countless readers on their journey to spiritual awakening."  

– —Associate Professor Hwansoo Ilmee Kim, Department of Religious Studies at Yale University