"This punk of a monk, who should be tending to his own affairs, has decided to infect the real world with his tall tales, and worse, to let the cat out of the bag. And what a sly, dangerous, beautiful, foul-smelling, heart-warming beast it is."--Leonard Cohen, from the forewordThese hilarious essays on life inside and outside a Zen monastery make up the spiritual memoir of Shozan Jack Haubner, a Zen monk who didn't really start out to be one. Raised in a conservative Catholic family, Shozan went on to study philosophy (becoming de-Catholicized in the process) and to pursue a career as a screenwriter and stand-up comic in the clubs of L.A. How he went from life in the fast lane to life on the stationary meditation cushion is the subject of this laugh-out-loud funny account of his experiences. Whether he's dealing with the pranks of a juvenile delinquent assistant in the monastery kitchen or defending himself against claims that he appeared in a porno movie under the name Daniel Reed (he didn't, really) or being surprised in the midst of it all by the compassion he experiences in the presence of his teacher, Haubner's voice is one you'll be compelled to listen to. Not only because it's highly entertaining, but because of its remarkable insight into the human condition.
In the thirteenth century, Zen master Dogen--perhaps the most significant of all Japanese philosophers, and the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen sect--wrote a practical manual of Instructions for the Zen Cook . In drawing parallels between preparing meals for the Zen monastery and spiritual training, he reveals far more than simply the rules and manners of the Zen kitchen; he teaches us how to "cook," or refine our lives. In this volume Kosho Uchiyama Roshi undertakes the task of elucidating Dogen's text for the benefit of modern-day readers of Zen. Taken together, his translation and commentary truly constitute a "cookbook for life," one that shows us how to live with an unbiased mind in the midst of our workaday world.
When Bodhidharma, the legendary first ancestor of Zen, was asked about the main principle of his holy teaching, he's said to have replied: "A vast emptiness--with nothing holy about it " A millennium-and-a-half later, Tim Burkett finds that the answer still applies: you don't need to go looking for something holy--buddha nature is right here in front of you. The concise summary of Zen teaching he presents in this book is expressed precisely in terms of what he found right in front of him: beginning with the delightful non-holiness he experienced in the presence of his original teacher, Shunyru Suzuki, and continuing through a lifetime of further teaching experiences.
There is a fine art to presenting complex ideas with simplicity and insight, in a manner that both guides and inspires. In Taking the Path of Zen Robert Aitken presents the practice, lifestyle, rationale, and ideology of Zen Buddhism with remarkable clarity.The foundation of Zen is the practice of zazen, or mediation, and Aitken Roshi insists that everything flows from the center. He discusses correct breathing, posture, routine, teacher-student relations, and koan study, as well as common problems and milestones encountered in the process. Throughout the book the author returns to zazen, offering further advice and more advanced techniques. The orientation extends to various religious attitudes and includes detailed discussions of the Three Treasures and the Ten Precepts of Zen Buddhism.
Taking the Path of Zen will serve as orientation and guide for anyone who is drawn to the ways of Zen, from the simply curious to the serious Zen student.
--Los Angeles Times