- 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
- Can’t Face It Anymore When the Life Force Can’t Fight the Death Wish
I was talking to a friend I meet every week for lunch and we were catching up before we ordered. “I had to go to a funeral this weekend,” Tom said. “I told you my neighbor died, didn’t I?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “How did he ... Read more
- The Father and I Are One A Buddhist Reads the Bible (and Finds the Buddha): The Gospel of John
One of the more interesting reactions to my piece on Jesus the Jew was from my brother Bill, a scholar of languages and the Bible who reads in both Greek and Hebrew. He said that the Synoptic Gospels were about the Galilean Jesus, ... Read more
- The Whiteness of the Whale Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Library of America. 638 pp.
I’ve recently expressed my admiration for the Library of America and its beautiful editions, but I was disappointed by the Melville Chronology in this volume, which seemed positively paltry. Elmore Leonard gets 27 pages and Herman Melville gets five? My brother tells me there’s a famous ... Read more
- They Couldn’t Just Run Off in Her Prius? Victoria and Abdul a film by Stephen Frears. With Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard. ***
I found this movie captivating. The story of an unlikely friendship between an aging Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) and an Indian servant named Abdul (Ali Fayal), it shows the lonely old woman—who has let herself go to the ... Read more
- Can an Authentic Teacher Be Rich? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. New World Library. 235 pp.
It seems strange to write about a book that not only came out many years ago, but that became an international bestseller and made its author a spiritual superstar. But a few weeks ago, when I felt on shaky ground because of some things ... Read more
- Should Buddhism Be Secular? Or Could We, on the Other Hand, See Every Moment of Life as Religious?
American Nirvana by Adam Gopnik. The New Yorker Magazine, August 7 & 14, 2017.
I don’t know at what moment I realized that the goofy little practice that I stumbled into at my wife’s insistence in 1991, surrounded by a bunch of misfits ... Read more
- He Showed Up Levi G. 1953-2017
I won’t say that Levi was my best friend in the world—I have many wonderful friends—but he was the friend with whom I most resonated. When I was in Asheville we met every week for a couple hours, having breakfast and drinking coffee. As soon as we sat down we fell into the ... Read more
- Living Deliberately Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls. University of Chicago Press. 615 pp. $35.00.
This is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Right at the moment I can’t think of a better one. And it comes at an ideal moment for me.
The official occasion is the bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth, in 1817. ... Read more
- Man’s Search for Meaning While Life Goes On All Around
When spiritual pilgrims went to visit the great Indian saint Vimala Thakar and unexpectedly got to see her, they asked her the purpose of life. “To live,” she said.
A Zen Master couldn’t have said it better.
When I was in high school I read—with what I remember as an utter lack ... Read more