Category: religion

  • 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