Dharma combat is a practice form unique to Zen in which student and teacher confront each other before a live audience, so to speak. The Zen master takes a seat at the front of the meditation hall and is approached by students, one by one, who challenge the master with questions. The Zen master challenges them in return, and the pithy, energetic exchanges become a teaching for all involved.
Cave of Tigers is proof that the ancient practice of dharma combat is alive and well in American Zen. It consists of records of actual dharma combat sessions between John Daido Loori Roshi and his students at Zen Mountain Monastery. The highly charged encounters range from koan-like exchanges to practical discussions of meditation, Buddhist philosophy, and the always-pertinent issue of bringing spiritual practice into everyday life.
"Daido Roshi challenges today’s Zen students with quotes from sages who lived a thousand or so years ago. The deep, unrehearsed life questions that these words evoke in the students are answered with often practical, funny, or mind-shattering responses. Yet Daido Roshi offers those who come forward nothing to hang on to. This book is important for students and novice teachers alike. It is testimony to the vital relevance of alive Zen practice in our time."—Roshi Bernie Glassman, author of Bearing Witness and Instructions to the Cook
"In this unique book we get a rare glimpse of the face-to-face, intimate encounter of earnestly questioning student and accomplished Zen master. Each exchange has the potential to bring insight, even to the reader."—Jan Chozen Bays, author of Jizo Bodhisattva
"Cave of Tigers brings the age-old practice of Dharna combat into a modern context. Daido Roshi’s grasp of the historical material and his long experience of teaching through these Zen encounters with students make this a valauble presentation of an otherwise neglected subject. I recommend it to anyone wishing to learn about this traditional and still very vital practice."—Dennis Genpo Merzel, Roshi, author of Big Mind—Big Heart: Finding Your Way