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Viewed through the lens of psychology and neuroscience, a classic Zen sutra becomes a springboard for exploring sensory experiences and realizing freedom.
What does it mean to be liberated through one’s sensory life? In That Is Not Your Mind! Zen teacher Robert Rosenbaum explores this question by taking readers on a step-by-step journey through the Surangama Sutra. This Chinese Mahayana sutra is known for its emphasis on practicing with the senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and the Buddhist “sixth sense” of mind or cognition), as well as its teachings on the necessity of basic ethical commitments, like not killing or stealing, to support the development of one’s meditation practice and insight.
Rosenbaum interweaves passages from the sutra with contemporary insights from neuroscience and psychology, illustrating the usefulness of the text with anecdotes from his life and his forty years of teaching experience. In addition to learning about a sutra that played an important role in the creation of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen Buddhism, readers are guided through meditations and other practices derived from the sutra’s teachings, such as hearing meditations (awareness of sound, awareness of silence, turning hearing inwards) and centering meditations (basic centering as well as centering on compassion).
"One of the most difficult aspects of Buddhist practice is wrapping our minds around how every moment is both a deceptive seeming and also a true gateway to awakening," writes Rosenbaum. "Nothing is hidden, but there is an infinite field we cannot see."
About the Author
ROBERT (BOB) MEIKYO ROSENBAUM, PhD, is an American Zen teacher with lay entrustment in Soto Zen from Sojo Mel Weitsman and denkai in Ordinary Mind Zen from Karen Terzano. A founding member of the Lay Zen Teachers Association, Bob started the Meadowmind Sangha in Arnold and Vallecito, California, and is currently starting an Ordinary Mind Zen center in Sacramento. He is a senior teacher of Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong in the lineage of Yang Meijun, authorized by Master Hui Liu of the Wen Wu School. He worked for thirty years as a neuropsychologist, psychotherapist, and behavioral medicine specialist until retiring ten years ago to devote all his time to Zen and qigong. Bob has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as the books Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy, Walking the Way: 83 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching, and What’s Wrong with Mindfulness (and what isn’t)—Zen Perspectives.
“Bob makes this great and neglected text fully available to many readers in lucid and friendly fashion.”—from the foreword by Norman Fischer
“Frankly, I’d never even heard of the Surangama Sutra, let alone studied it, but Bob Rosenbaum is the kind of guide you trust to take you into unfamiliar territory, whether on a mountain trail in Nepal or down the byways of an old Chinese sutra and bring you out the other side—not just having visited an exotic new territory, but having come away with life lessons illuminated with surprising vividness. It’s a long, strange trip, but well worth the ride.”—Barry Magid, author of Nothing Is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans
“That Is Not Your Mind! is part scholarly commentary on this ancient and neglected sutra, part how-to meditation guide. Both the sutra itself and Rosenbaum’s commentary, including touching personal stories of his own vulnerability, offer us compassion for our weaknesses and great encouragement for our practice. Rosenbaum brings help to all of us meditators who are eagerly awaiting our moment of Great Awakening, encouraging us to get real, be human, and attend to compassion.”—Susan Moon, author of Alive Until You’re Dead: Notes on the Home Stretch
“Witty, authentic, and refreshing, That Is Not Your Mind! is an approachable exploration of the Surangama Sutra that is much needed in our day and age. Rosenbaum skillfully combines the weight and wisdom of one of the foundational texts of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism with his expertise as a neuroscientist and psychotherapist to make a new level of understanding available for contemporary practitioners. This book is also delightfully filled with humor and insights from Rosenbaum’s role as a father, grandfather, and mountaineer, in addition to his life-long practices in Zen and qigong. It will be a valuable addition to the shelves of anyone curious and serious about Buddhism.”—Rebecca Nie, coauthor of Yin Mountain: The Immortal Poetry of Three Daoist Women
“At a time when many people are questioning the ways in which our ideas about ourselves, others and the world are formed, That is Not Your Mind! is an invaluable guide, offering deep insight along the Buddhist path of self-realization. Framing the teaching of the Surangama Sutra within the context of Zen practice and everyday experiences of the contemporary world, Bob Rosenbaum draws on his years of experience as a neuropsychologist and Zen practitioner, bringing to light the fundamental teachings of how our minds come to frame our perceptions of the world.”—Diane Eshin Rizzetto, author of Waking Up to What You Do and Deep Hope
“As a Zen teacher, Taoist student, neuropsychologist, and psychotherapist, my dharma brother Bob Rosenbaum brings a lifetime of training to the beloved Surangama Sutra, a seminal Mahayana text only recently available in English. With warmth, keen insight, and great clarity, Rosenbaum writes at the intersection of ancient but perennial Buddhist wisdom and his own human yearning to awaken. This Sutra of the Heroic March can now be a reliable map on our own enlightening journey.”—Hozan Alan Senauke, author of Turning Words: Transformative Encounters with Buddhist Teachers
“We are deeply fortunate that this remarkable book opens the treasure house of the Surangama Sutra. Written with clarity and great wisdom from a Zen perspective, this fascinating book gives us the rare experience of coming to understand how we perceive reality.”—Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“A thorough introduction to the Surangama Sutra . . . summarizing the sutra’s teachings, respecting the source material and explaining its wisdom to readers with humanity and compassion.”—Publishers Weekly
“Immensely enlightening. . . . A wise and friendly introduction to a sutra that Rosenbaum clearly loves and lives deeply . . . with both highly conceptual and everyday practices of mind and behavior for twenty-first-century Buddhist practitioners.”—Lion’s Roar
“A gem. . . . In this wonderful book, Rosenbaum invites us to think deeper and wider, and to engage in the conversations that the [Surangama Sutra] inspires. And he brings these worlds together beautifully, inviting us to gaze into the past and into the present, to navigate dichotomies, and to focus and dissolve with the mind, and the no-mind.”—Buddhistdoor Global