Written by Paul Reps

Read by Peter Coyote

Available on CD:  175 minutes (Unabridged)

Published by Phoenex Audio (December 2007)

Originally released on audio cassette by Audio Literature in April 1997


What is Zen? Zen is a way of life, a religion, and an aesthetic. It is one of the oldest and most profound religious philosophies in the world. This program presents selections from some of the best known works in the Zen canon. 101 Zen Stories recounts actual experiences with Zen spanning five centuries. The Gateless Gate is a thirteenth-century collection of mind problems used in the practice of Zen. 10 Bulls is a twelfth-century commentary on the stages of awareness leading to enlightenment. And "Centering" is a 4000-year-old teaching from India that could very well have been the source of Zen. What is Zen? Listen for the answer.


"My 14-year-old son and his summer-camp bunk mates got hooked on Buddhism - specifically Zen Buddhism - through Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.The following simple parable captivated the young campers:

'A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!'

Read by actor Peter Coyote, a 20-year practitioner of Buddhism, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is a simple introduction to the pacifistic Buddhist philosophy through stories about self-discoveries. Zen is described as a spirit of peace, understanding, compassion and contentment. It is attained through meditation and simplicity of living... I asked my son why these stories were such a hit at camp. After pondering it for a moment, he said, 'They are cool...and insightful." ... Gayle Sims, St. Paul Pioneer Press

"Old Zen was so fresh it became treasured and remembered. Here are fragments of its skin, flesh, bones, but not its marrow - never found in words." ... from the foreword by Paul Reps

About the book:
Zen Buddhism conveys its profound and powerful truths through epigram, parable and brief, enigmatic and often amusing stories of the masters. In addition to 101 Zen Stories, this volume contains The Gateless gate, a collection of koans or puzzles that students used to attune their minds to enlightenment, and 10 Bulls, an illustrated account of a bullhunt which symbolizes the ascending stages of awareness. In Centreing, an ancient Sanskrit text at the roots of Zen, Shiva offers 112 ways to open the invisible door of consciousness. Zen can never be summed up in a Bible or definitive body of doctrine, but for anyone seeking the inspiration and illumination of Zen wisdom, these classic texts make the ideal place to start.


Original 1997 release:


[ The Official Peter Coyote Web Site ]