“Making Zen Your Own” by Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels

Making Zen Your Own: Giving Life to Twelve Key Golden Age Ancestors

by Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels

Making Zen Your OwnThis 2012 book traces the life stories of twelve Chinese Zen masters who shaped what was to become Zen’s “Golden Age.” It stresses the humanity of these ancestors, showing that they were not formed from a generic mold but were individuals with quirks, senses of humor, and unique ways of expressing the powerful humanity of Zen. Lively, accessible storytelling sheds light on their paradoxical teachings with clarity and simplicity while showing that the masters faced some of the same challenges that spiritual seekers face today.

The book is published by Wisdom Publications and is now available for sale at the Zendo (at a discount), your local bookstore, and on Amazon.com.

Click here to preview excerpts from the introduction and the first chapter on Bodhidharma.

Buy Now

“Janet Abels writes about the Zen ancestors with clarity and depth of knowledge that comes from long practice and study.”
— Andy Ferguson
Author of Zen’s Chinese Heritage

“Through excellent narrative and her own deep understanding, Janet Abels has revealed the profound teachings of these great masters for present-day students of the Way.”
– Roshi Gerry Shishin Wick
Author of The Book of Equanimity

“Many who are new to Zen will find this a most useful beginning to their practice and understanding of Zen… an excellent book of teachings, with clear insight evident, which should help many on the path. Those unfamiliar with the stories will delight in the narrative of these masters and the sprakling, engaging style Abels brings to those tales. There is over a thousand years between the masters and us but they are still alive and teaching us.”
– The Zen Site  (read the entire review here)

“Making Zen Your Own gives us a strong presentation in spirited prose of the lives of the founding teachers of Zen Buddhism. Janet Abels clearly presents the personalities of these teachers, their place in history, and the individual’s contribution to Zen practice.”
Roshi Robert Kennedy, S.J
Author of Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit

“By personalizing Zen lineage masters, these seemingly untouchable mystics are situated anew in a practitioner’s narrative of Buddhism.”
— Buddhadharma Magazine