What is this? Ancient questions for modern minds

by Martine and Stephen Batchelor

Bringing together the meditation instructions and dharma talks given by Martine and Stephen Batchelor during a Sŏn (Chan/Zen) retreat at Gaia House, What is this? Ancient questions for modern minds takes us through the practice of radical questioning at the heart of the Korean Sŏn Buddhist tradition and suggests how we can benefit from this form of meditation today.

These talks illuminate how a practice that originated in China more than a thousand years ago can now draw on ideas from the natural sciences, ancient and modern western philosophy, Romantic poetry, and the early Buddhism of the Pali canon.

The reader can use the book both as a practice manual and as a companion in facing the challenge of living a fully human life in the contemporary world.

To accompany the book, we brought together a series of questions by Jim Champion, Bill Cooper and Christine Johnson and have produced a guide for reading group and individual study. Download it here.

If you would like assistance to organise a reading group for a group of friends, for your community, in your town, or for your time zone, get in touch.


Martine and Stephen live in southwest France, and conduct seminars and retreats worldwide. They have taught at Gaia House since 1986.

Martine Batchelor (https://martinebatchelor.org) lived as a Sŏn nun in Korea for ten years. She is the author of Meditation for life, The path of compassion, Women in Korean Zen and Let go. Her previous book is The spirit of the Buddha.

Stephen Batchelor (https://stephenbatchelor.org) is a writer, teacher and artist, and a co-founder of Bodhi College. He trained as Sŏn monk in Korea for four years, and is the author of Buddhism without beliefs, After Buddhism and, most recently, The art of solitude.

Martine and Stephen have generously waived royalty payments for What is This? All proceeds from the book will go to The Tuwhiri Project.



Paperback • NZD $30.00 
Recommended Retail Price in bookshops
AUD $27.95, USD $20.00, CAD $27.50, EUR €17.50, GBP £15.50
176 pages • 152 x 229 x 8mm

ePub • NZD $9.95

Kindle / Kindle Fire • NZD $9.95