- Unlikely Hero Deepest Practice, Deepest Wisdom: Three Fascicles from Shobogenzo with Commentaries by Kosho Uchiyama. Translated by Daitsu Tom Wright and Shohaku Okumura. Wisdom Publications. 318 pp.
Last week at our temple a priest gave a talk about Kodo Sawaki’s famous remark “Zazen is good for nothing,” which is startling the first time you hear it. We know ... Read more
- Sex in Heaven Call Me By Your Name a film by Luca Guadagnino. With Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar. ****1/2
First the things I don’t like: Everybody is so good looking. They’re all so intelligent, and talented. This is the kind of movie where people are lying around their Italian villa in the sun, not doing ... Read more
- To Nowhere On the Road from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac. Edited by Douglas Brinkley. Library of America. 864 pp.
It’s an odd feeling to reread On the Road after just reading The Dharma Bums for the first time. In a way it’s the same book all over again, Jack Kerouac on a mad dash around the ... Read more
- Drunken Saint The Dharma Bums from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac. Edited by Douglas Brinkley. Library of America. 864 pp. ***1/2
Jack Kerouac is the spiritual father of every whacked-out hippie who ever stumbled his way through the Sixties, head bobbing in mild agreement, mouth perpetually grinning, a beard flowing around his collar. Kerouac himself was a ... Read more
- Choosing Life The Light That Shines Through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life by Dainin Katagiri. Shambhala. 229 pp. $16.95.
Jesus’ Son Stories by Denis Johnson. Picador. 133 pp. $15.00
It was unnerving for me to read Denis Johnson’s excellent but disturbing book of stories at the same time I was reading the new book of lectures by ... Read more
- Samadhi as a Way of Life Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood. Vedanta Press. 348 pp. $16.95. ****
“God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion…One ... Read more
- Nights of Terror Seven Days of One Long Moment
The question—which I’ve asked on this website before—is: what is the nameless dread that I feel before sesshin begins, the fear that periodically grips me in the pit of my stomach? What am I afraid of?
I seemed to have less of it this year. I had uneasy moments, but didn’t ... Read more
- Time is a What? A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Anchor Books. 340 pp. $16.00. *****
I’m aware as a writer that many people I read are more talented than I, but now and then I’m pulled up short by a writer who does something I couldn’t even aspire to. I felt that way about War and ... Read more
- Why Volunteer
I had finished my Thursday volunteering stint at Urban Ministries and was tidying up when Brittany came back. “David, would you mind taking one more person? She says she’s sick.”
I said I’d be happy to. I wasn’t in a hurry.
“She’s a new client,” she said.
The woman who came back didn’t look like a lot of ... Read more
- True Love Single White Monk: Tales of Death, Failure, and Bad Sex by Shozan Jack Haubner. Shambhala. 208 pp. $14.95.
I was not a big fan of Shozan Jack Haubner’s first book, Zen Confidential. I thought it was overwritten, and that he often seemed to be trying too hard. I did appreciate his honesty, and the way he ... Read more