Category: spirituality

  • 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
  • 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
  • Is That a Promise? Ruminations on Star Wars: The Last Jedi a film by Rian Johnson.  With Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega.  ***1/2 For the critics who are now active and influential, the Star Wars movies were their first epics, the movies they grew up on and worshiped.  I’m trying to think of what might ... 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
  • Who You Really Are (You Knew All Along) Coco a film by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.  With Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach.  ***** I went to this movie as an act of desperation.  Every day I read in the New York Times about the marvelous movies that are arriving for the holiday season and the great reviews they’ve gotten, ... 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
  • 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
  • Hasid from Galilee Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels by Geza Vermes.  Fortress Press.  286 pp. ***1/2 “Your God was a jew.  Christ was a jew like me.”  –Leopold Bloom to a group of hecklers, in Ulysses. This book is another suggestion from my friend Laurie, the mysterious woman from New Zealand who wrote a number of ... Read more