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Dr John Hurrell Crook, Phd, DSC (born 27 November 1930) is a British ethologist, sociologist and student of Chán (Chinese Zen) Buddhism. He is a dharma heir of Chan Master Sheng-yen, having received dharma transmission in 1993 in the lineages of Linji and Caodong Chan. In 1977 he led an expedition to Zanskar. He was a reader in ethology in the psychology department at Bristol University studying the social organization of animals.

He originally encountered Chan/Zen in Hong Kong whilst undergoing National Service in the British Army during the Korean War.

Crook subsequently trained with many Chan, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist teachers. In 1975 he established a retreat centre at Maenllwyd in Wales where he continues to lead intensive Chan retreats.

Crook established a new style of retreat, referred to as the Western Zen Retreat. This takes a traditional Chan/Zen retreat structure but incorporates other techniques, in particular a 'communication exercise', to assist the Western educated mind to go beyond thinking and cultivate Chan experience.

He also leads Mahamudra retreats, having received instruction and permission to teach this practice from his Tibetan teachers.

Another of Crook's innovations has been a new approach to koan practice, taking some of the lessons from the Western Zen Retreat to find new ways to assist Western minds to practice with traditional gongan (Japanese: koan) and huatou (Japanese: wato).

From the community of practitioners who attended retreats with Crook there grew an organisation called the Western Chan Fellowship, which was founded in 1996 and registered as a UK charity in 1997. Crook also occasionally leads retreats at Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush, New York.

Crook wrote an important analysis of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, in which he reveals that he, with others, has come to "see the FWBO more as a cult than as a Buddhist institution or school in accordance with tradition".[1].




By alphabetical order of the title:

  • John. H. Crook, Catching a Feather on a Fan: Zen Retreat with Master Sheng Yen. Element Books Ltd, 1991. ISBN 978-1852301941
  • John. H. Crook, Simon Child, Zarko Andricevic, Max Kalin, and Master Sheng-yen. Chan Comes West. North Atlantic Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1556435430
  • John. H. Crook and R. P. Michael. Comparative Ecology and Behaviour of Primates. Academic Press Inc, 1973. ISBN 978-0124934504
  • John. H. Crook and Henry Osmaston, Himalayan Buddhist Villages: Environment, Resources, Society and Religious Life in Zangskar, Ladakh. Bristol Classical Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0862923860
  • John. H. Crook and David Fontana, Space in Mind: East-West Psychology & Contemporary Buddhism. Thorsons/Element, 1993. ISBN 9781852301545
  • John. H. Crook. The Evolution of Human Consciousness. Oxford University Press, 1984. ISBN 978-0198571872
  • John. H. Crook and James Low, The Yogins of Ladakh: A Pilgrimage Among the Hermits of the Buddhist Himalayas. Motilal Banarsidass, 1997. ISBN 978-8120814622
  • John H. Crook, World Crisis and Buddhist Humanism. End Games: Collapse or Renewal of Civilisation. New Age Books, 2009. ISBN 9788178223254

See Also

External links



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