When Roshi Philip Kapleau returned to the United States in 1966, after thirteen years of training in Japan with two of the country's greatest masters of Zen, he "did not come home empty-handed -- he brought us a living word of Zen," Kenneth Kraft has said. The first Westerner fully and naturally at home with Zen, Roshi Kapleau has made it his life's work to translate Zen Buddhism into an American idiom, to take Zen's essence and plant it in American soil. Four decades later, the seeds of Zen that Roshi Kapleau planted have blossomed. Zen flourishes and Roshi Kapleau continues to help people find enlightenment and fulfillment within, not outside, their daily lives. "True awakening," Roshi Kapleau has said, "is not a 'high' that keeps one in the clouds of an abstract oneness, but a realization that brings one solidly down to earth into the world of toil and struggle."
Kapleau has written a number of books in his lifetime, The Three Pillars of Zen the most well known among them, but the heart of his work, his teachings to his students, has never before been made available. Awakening to Zen extracts the vital threads of Roshi Kapleau's teachings and braids them into a strong yet supple cord that readers may follow toward a deeper understanding of the enlightened life. Roshi Kapleau's warm, sometimes humorous but always grounded lessons touch on every aspect of daily reality; they capture his power, too, to transform the lives of not just practicing Buddhists, but all people who seek to experience in a more authentic way the bond they share with the world around them. One way or another, Roshi Kapleau has spent the past forty-three years of his life helping make Zen practice and its fruits accessible to anyone of sincere intent. Awakening to Zen offers a crucial and never-before-published aspect of his life's work.