- 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
- 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
- Mother Battles Daughter. Both Win. Lady Bird a film by Greta Gerwig. With Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. ****1/2
I was signed up for this movie as soon as I heard it was by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is a fundamentally odd performer: her roles are weird, her characters offbeat; she is slightly awkward physically, though beautiful and winning. ... 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
- 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