LOOKS AT BOOKS

I decided I was being a bit curmudgeonly about what “spiritual type” books I’ve read. When I first started getting into Zen stuff, I went through a few years where I did read a number of those kinds of books. It’s been a long while since I’ve really read much in the way of Buddhist or Eastern philosophical literature outside of Shobogenzo, which I’ve read a whole bunch of times. The books on the Eastern religions section of my shelf these days tend to be reference material for when I’m working on my own books. I mean, I can’t rattle off the 12-fold chain of cause and effect or even the Noble 8-fold path off the top of my head. I prefer looking them up in books to the Internet. Although the Internet is far quicker & easier. When I do use the Internet as a source, I usually double check with a trusted reference book if what I’m writing is gonna go into print. If it’s just for the blog, sometimes I go with what I find on line.

In the end, all of the useful things I’ve learned about Zen and Buddhism came from actually doing Zazen, not reading about it. Or they came from face-to-face talks with my teachers. Books can be OK. But you really, really will not learn Zen from a book. I know you’re sick of hearing that.

ANYWAY. I’m gonna sit here for a few minutes & try to recall some books I read way back when I was just getting into Zen and make a few comments on them. Here we go.

ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND by Shunryu Suzuki. A great book. Still in print. Go buy a copy.

THE THREE PILLARS OF ZEN by Philip Kapleau was one of the first Zen books I ever read. At the time I found it very interesting. But looking back at it now, I think that book kinda messed me up. It’s full of romantic descriptions of various people’s Enlightenment Experiences. These had me longing to get one of those for myself. I even thought I’d had them a few times. Alas, no dice.

COMMENTARIES ON LIVING by J. Krishnamurti. Actually I read a ton of Krishnamurti. But I remember this series best. I thumbed through a copy at somebody’s house or a bookstore or somewhere a few years back and thought it was still OK. Krishnamurti was definitely on to something. His philosophy is pretty decent. The only trouble I have with him is that, apparently, allegedly towards the end of his life it seemed like he might have started to believe all that stuff about him being the World Teacher or the reincarnation of Buddha. It was sad to hear that. Maybe it’s not true. I hope it’s not.

ZEN FLESH, ZEN BONES by Paul Reps. Cotton candy.

THE ZEN DOCTRINE OF NO MIND by DT Suzuki. I know I read this. But I can’t remember a thing about it. I do recall that I read it while I was working at a paint factory near Chicago. I was one of only two Whities on the factory floor. Everyone else was Hispanic. The other gringo was about my age. But I looked considerably younger. So they called him “gringo” and me “gringito.” One of the girls there was really hot. I tried to strike up conversations with her. But it was so noisy you had to scream over the machines. Not a very good way to deliver a pick-up line. So nothing ever came of that. And those are my memories of the only DT Suzuki book I ever read.

BUDDHA IS THE CENTER OF GRAVITY by Joshu Sasaki. I stil have this & have read it at least five times. It’s a good book. You can’t find it anywhere anymore, though. Too bad. Sasaki is Rinzai. Some of my best friends are Rinzai…

CUTTING THROUGH SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM by Chogyam Trungpa. I know I liked this one at the time I read it. But this was before I knew about Trungpa. He was apparently a pretty nasty guy, even by his own admission. Basically he partied hardy and drank himself to death, the story goes. I’ve heard he used to tell students that they should learn from his teachings in his books rather than from his behavior, as if the 2 were completely separate. I used to believe that could be true. I don’t anymore. Then again, I love Ted Nugent’s music even though I can’t agree with his lifestyle. Cat Scratch Fever!!!!!

EASY JOURNEY TO OTHER PLANETS by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Prabupada was the head of the Hare Krishnas. I read a bunch of his books. Plus his authorized biography. I used to have a pretty handsome collection of his stuff. They were all incredibly well printed & highly attractive. But, forgive me Lord Krishna, I never could get much out of his philosophy. I kept my copy of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, though.

BE HERE NOW by Ram Dass. I loved this one when I first read it. It’s also the reason I took LSD — and nearly lost my mind for good and all one Summer night. The book strikes me now as a big advertisement for drug abuse. I know it tries not to be. Or rather, it pays lame lip service to trying not to be. But, in the end, I think pretty much everyone who reads the thing ends up wanting to get high and experience the “beatific vision” Ram Dass claims to have had while wasted out of his gourd. Drugs suck. They are absolutely useless as far as any pursuit of the Truth is concerned. I’m afraid I will never budge on this position. So send your e-mails about how Enlightened you got on peyote to someone who won’t think you’re an idiot.

That’s all I can think of right now. Everyone asks me about Alan Watts. I’ve never read anything by him. If I come up with a few more, I’ll write ‘em up later.

43 Responses

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  1. aumeye
    aumeye August 9, 2006 at 6:27 am | |

    I was reading and enjoying this post when suddenly, the name Ted Nugent loomed larger than all the rest of the text. Now I cannot remember anything else I read about the books, nor can I get the letters to stop swimming around long enough to return to the rest of the post. I even gagged a little. I’m depressed for a moment. I’ll get over it, and try again later.

  2. nobody
    nobody August 9, 2006 at 9:30 am | |

    I’ve heard he used to tell students that they should learn from his teachings in his books rather than from his behavior, as if the 2 were completely separate. I used to believe that could be true. I don’t anymore.

    I don’t believe the two are completely separate, but nor do I believe that good teachers can’t be flawed people.

    I don’t think that realizing the truth magically erases all of our human problems and difficulties. I don’t believe that all human malaise magically disappears in the light of wisdom; I think it is simply recontextualized. I think that believing any differently is a hallmark of spiritual immaturity and idealism.

    Ain’t nobody perfect, and nobody has to be in order to realize the perfect truth of the Dharma. Bad behavior is no more excusable in a spiritual teacher than in anybody else, but neither does it void a teacher’s wisdom. In my view, the fact that good teachers can behave badly is simply a reflection that the nature of our lives as human beings is that the perfect, timeless truths available to us can only be realized through our imperfect, temporal lives; you can’t extricate one from the other. If you have psychological problems or learned patterns of harmful behavior, spiritual wisdom isn’t going to make them magically disappear. No matter who you are, you have to work at resolving your worldly concerns as well as your spiritual ones.

  3. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead August 9, 2006 at 9:41 am | |

    I actually read a piece once about
    Ted where he stated that he enters
    a “zen-like” state when he’s perched up in a deer stand awaiting
    his prey to come near. Even though
    Ted hunts and is far to the right,
    he probably has a much more spiritual take on the earth and its
    nature than most of you that have blogged here.

    Still enjoying your posts, Brad!

  4. aumeye
    aumeye August 9, 2006 at 9:47 am | |

    I agree that there is no substitute for sitting; all else is just support for actually doing it. However, for me, the books often serve to reinvigorate me in my practice. Plus, many of them are quite entertaining.

  5. aumeye
    aumeye August 9, 2006 at 10:24 am | |

    “I contribute to the dead of winter and the moans of silence, blood trails are music to my ears. I’m a gut-pile addict. The pig didn’t know I was there. It’s my kick. I love shafting animals.” Ted Nugent.

    He sells videotapes in which he cheers at the screams of a wild pig who is repeatedly shot with arrows but does not die outright. He goes to South Africa to shoot wildlife that most people would give their right arm to preserve and protect.

    He has called foreigners “asses” and “scum.” Says Nugent, “I don’t like ‘em; I don’t want ‘em in this country; I don’t want ‘em selling doughnuts; I don’t want ‘em pumping my gas; I don’t want ‘em down wind of my life.” He has referred to women, on the air, as “whores” and said, of apartheid, it “isn’t that cut and dried.”

    Spiritual? Okay.

  6. ryunin
    ryunin August 9, 2006 at 10:40 am | |

    quote: “But it was so noisy you had to scream over the machines. Not a very good way to deliver a pick-up line. So nothing ever came of that.”

    another good laugh after a while today

  7. Jules
    Jules August 9, 2006 at 11:48 am | |

    I played the bassline for Stranglehold for about an hour straight last weekend. Good music. I don’t much like Nugent or his politics. But I will say that he is way more honest with himself and others than a lot of people, and I have respect for that. He has a cold heart, but he lives with integrity, and a lot of people don’t. I watched his TV show once or twice, and the part that got to me was when he made his guests kill their own chickens for dinner. Some of the guests were completely freaked out by this, but the idea of vegetarianism never seemed to occur to them. They just wanted to get back to their habitual way of eating meat without having to face where meat comes from.

    I don’t have a moral hard-line against killing. If I was starving with no other available food and had the opportunity to kill an animal for meat, I’d take the opportunity. We have an obligation to avoid killing whenever we can, but we don’t live in a world of black and white.

  8. Dan
    Dan August 9, 2006 at 11:51 am | |

    I don’t think that realizing the truth magically erases all of our human problems and difficulties. I don’t believe that all human malaise magically disappears in the light of wisdom

    I don’t agree nobody. i think that the true wisdom consists in acting
    on that wisdom. all the time. if you don’t it is not really wisdom but only theoretical knowledge. maybe i’m setting the bar a bit high by thinking that but i’m in good company. socrates maintained a similar position. he said that if you truly know what the right thing to do is in a given situation then you will do it. if you don’t do the right thing then you never really KNEW it. you just had a kind of intellectual understanding of what the right thing to do was.

    oh and by the way, just to pre-empt a possible outcome of me posting this comment….
    please dont anyone start talking about dualistic thinking. so this is dualistic thinking. so what? coming along and pointing out how stupid i am being for talking so naievely about ‘ the right’ thing vs ‘the wrong’ thing is itself another example of dualistic thinking. so there. X)

  9. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey August 9, 2006 at 12:33 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. ryunin
    ryunin August 9, 2006 at 12:36 pm | |

    Aumeye, I don’t think Brad meant to list Ted Nugent as one of the spiritual people or authors he read, he just mentioned him as an example of someone whose music is great while his life style is not. So cheer up.

  11. aumeye
    aumeye August 9, 2006 at 1:22 pm | |

    Thank you, Ryunin, but I did realize that. My repeating the word “spiritual” was in response to another poster, who called Ted spiritual, and included a quote. I am letting go of this now. Peace.

  12. ASG
    ASG August 9, 2006 at 2:05 pm | |

    Check out Zen Dharma Exchange on Amazon.com. A series of four DVDs made from a show originally aired on Public TV. This is a real Dharma Exchange format with Zen Master Pohwa Sunim founder of the World Zen Fellowship.

  13. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey August 9, 2006 at 2:41 pm | |

    “Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the
    mind.

    Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must

    Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.”
    Tool- Lateralus

    Zen?

  14. Still young
    Still young August 9, 2006 at 3:32 pm | |

    Mmm, A good story to read is Bones of the Master by George Crane. He’s a real human being and he acts like it, as does his “Master” who is actually just his friend. I like it because it seems more realistic then most spiritual books out there.

    Anywho, I don’t read as many books on easter philosophy as I used to. These days If anything, it’s Tom Cleary translations of The Tao Te Ching, The Chuang Tzu, And The Book Of Balance and Harmony, and also his translation of The Blue Cliff Records (this I recommend for you Zennies out there.) I know It’s probably not good reading only one translators interpretation, but I like Cleary.

    But good post.

  15. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey August 9, 2006 at 4:55 pm | |
  16. Jinzang
    Jinzang August 9, 2006 at 4:59 pm | |

    Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must

    Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.”
    Tool- Lateralus

    Zen?

    No. Too much I and my. Sometimes people think anything intuitive and non-conceptual is Zen, but it ain’t so. Zen may be non-conceptual, but it doesn’t follow that everything non-conceptual is Zen.

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    Askinstoo August 9, 2006 at 8:56 pm | |

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  18. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf August 10, 2006 at 12:43 am | |

    This is more of a reply to the last post.

    I can be quite an entertainment junkie. I always catch myself at work wishing I was home reading, bloging, movie watching etc, competely oblivious to the present moment. Enetertainment is alot like drugs, in that it ship you to another galaxy far far away (I watched Star Wars episodes IV, V, VI back to back the other day)from the dirty dishes and reality. But I also feel entertainment can be ones reality too. As I am reading my 5th Christopher Moore novel(Favortie fiction author, he is hilarious, check out A Dirty Job, or Lamb, or Blood Sucking Fiends, or hell any of his books. You laugh your ass off.), that is the reality of the present moment – the present moment is reading a funny fiction book. So I don’t think I will be giving up entertainment anytime soon, but I like to remain aware that it can be addicitive and lead to suffering as much as anything else. Okay, I will stop blabing my virtual chops now.

  19. nobody
    nobody August 10, 2006 at 6:30 am | |

    I don’t agree nobody. i think that the true wisdom consists in acting on that wisdom. all the time. if you don’t it is not really wisdom but only theoretical knowledge. maybe i’m setting the bar a bit high by thinking that but i’m in good company. socrates maintained a similar position. he said that if you truly know what the right thing to do is in a given situation then you will do it. if you don’t do the right thing then you never really KNEW it. you just had a kind of intellectual understanding of what the right thing to do was.

    My stance isn’t that right action doesn’t follow from wisdom. What I’m saying is that no matter how good of a rider a person may be, chances are, they will still fall off the horse from time to time.

    Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings have been of immense help to me. So have the teachings of his student Pema Chodron. I find that both of them offer just about the most clear-headed, no-bullshit take on Buddhism that you can find.

    We’re all imperfect vessels for the perfect truth. One thing I’ve liked Brad for doing is trying to reveal the wizard behind the curtain when it comes to Zen and Buddhist teachers, showing how he’s an imperfect, regular guy.

    But it seems like Brad, despite all of the best efforts of his teacher and all of his own best efforts, still wants to hold on to the idealism he’s always tended towards, and it seems to be coming out more and more lately. This flies in the face of a lot of the favorite things I’ve read from him, especially where he’s emphasized the perfection of the seemingly imperfect and messy details of our lives.

    Any more, it’s all about who’s a fake Buddhist and who’s not really a teacher and a whole bunch of nonsense that is the kind of thinking that is part of the fundamentalist impulse. And of course, fundamentalism is the stance that the truth only comes in one very particular package, and that anyone who doesn’t believe and practice exactly as I do is a sinner or infidel destined for hell.

    Dig at any teacher hard and long enough and you’ll find the flaws and imperfections. I always thought that was one of Brad’s points, though the message seems garbled now–on the one hand, Brad wants to show that he’s a regular, flawed guy, but on the other hand, he’s saying that any flawed person can’t be a real teacher.

    Again, I don’t excuse Buddhist teachers any more than I excuse anyone else when it comes to bad behavior. Nor do I disagree that enlightenment is an act, not an unchanging state. But for that very reason, someone can act in an enlightened way one moment and a not-so-enlightened way in the next. It’s the nature of the human condition.

    There are timeless truths that we can see and express, but we ourselves are mortal. There is perfection that we can see and express, but we ourselves are imperfect beings in an imperfect world. And that’s the joy and the wonder: we don’t have to become perfect to experience or express perfection.

    I’ve experienced for myself that people can have a lot of wisdom when it comes to the Absolute nature of reality, but still have a lot of personal issues and bad habits. It’s the nature of how conditioned behavior works. This is the heart of the Hyakujo koan as well: the enlightened person sees cause and effect clearly, but is not free from them.

    I know that I wouldn’t have matured as much as I have in my Zen practice if it weren’t for the efforts of very good teachers who also happened to be flawed people, such as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Dainin Katagiri Roshi… and Brad Warner! Just to name a few. Not to mention the teachers I’ve worked with in person who did not struggle to hide their personal flaws.

    We can continue to live with an idealistic mindset, believing that there’s a magic cure-all for all that ails us. And as long as we do, we will be cut off from the truth of Dharma that surfaces around us constantly. We won’t see it in our neighbor, we won’t see it in the world around us. We will go on thinking that the only place we will ever see it is a remote Himalayan mountaintop. And so we’ll never see it.

    I believe that the most dangerous and destructive tendency of the human mind is the tendency to elevate “pure” ideas and ideals over messy and flawed reality. This is a point Brad emphasizes over and over again, and it leaves me feeling very concerned and disappointed to see how far he drifts away from the teaching he described in his book that enlightenment is not found in a perfect vision of God and the universe, but is found in the simple act of eating a tangerine.

  20. Esmerelda
    Esmerelda August 10, 2006 at 8:41 am | |

    Nobody said
    I’ve heard he used to tell students that they should learn from his teachings in his books rather than from his behavior, as if the 2 were completely separate. I used to believe that could be true. I don’t anymore. –

    I agree, but there are degrees of flawedness. Some people are so messed up that they damage those around them especially trusting students. This can happen even with a book or a piece of music where they never meet it’s author in person. Perhaps even more easily. However, the students, assuming that they are adults, not retarded or mentally ill, also have a responsibility not to be so trusting that they do stupid things.

    Using Brad’s LSD example, he certainly should have known that there was a risk involved. He was doing this well after the early days of experimentation. If he read several books pro and con, he sjould have and perhaps did try the drug knowing the risk and that many people who had taken it were not in anyway benefited.

    As my mother used to say when I did something dumb which was rather frequently, if your friend jumped off a roof would you have done that too?

    As Loanwolf points out there are may reasons for reading and different books suit those reasons. When I started getting interested in this stuff my Buddist friends recommended books. ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ was on every list. I liked Lama Surya Das’s ‘Awakening the Buddha Within’ and still do. Of course, just reading books is not enough but you will learn stuff and perhaps be more motivated to actually practice.

    Christofer Moore anytime, any book.

  21. Element
    Element August 10, 2006 at 10:44 am | |

    “Tool- Lateralus

    Zen?”

    I like the Band, once I have read that the Band name is Tool because the Band sees itself as a tool of a higher force or something like that. For example for creating the vocals the singer just sings to the instruments without a concept, the words would just come from another force and the singer is just the tool of this force, like a medium. I think the true meaning behind that, though the band talks about this a bit strange, is “Zen”. I don’t know if the band knows about Zen, but I know that they read a lot of stuff, even strange stuff. But they are creative. The Album title Lateralus means to think creative, in other ways as commen. But I think also that the music is not for everyone.

  22. flecktones
    flecktones August 10, 2006 at 11:17 am | |

    I agree that the topics of Brad’s article have drastically changed. His first articles seemed to be pragmatic interpretations of Buddhism for the modern practitioner. Now it seems its just blasting other Buddhist and Religous people.

    Isn’t it all completely pointless. For example, the way Tibetan Buddhist view Enlightenment, or the fact that Chogyam drank too much has never caused me any suffering what so ever. If the point of Buddhism is to alleviate suffering, then why not focus on that. Ive always thought that since Religion is based on faith (not reason) that the foundation of all religions should be unconditional acceptance of all other religions.

  23. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey August 10, 2006 at 11:37 am | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. Ryuei
    Ryuei August 10, 2006 at 3:28 pm | |

    flecktones,

    I can’t go along with this unconditional acceptance of all religions. Even the Buddha did not unconditionally accept all religions. In the Pali Canon (the only real credible source for the historical Buddha’s actual teachings) the Buddha explicitly criticizes those teachings which were materialistic, fatalistic, immoral, or would otherwise harm people’s motivation to do good, avoid evil, and purify the mind. He was also asked towards the end of his life which teaching was the true one by a wanderer named Subhadra. The Buddha told Subhadra that only that teaching where the eightfold path is present can bring about liberation. So Buddhism does uphold a standard.

    As for me personally, I have seen videos online of the Taliban executing a woman who had two small children. She had killed her husband, who had been beating her. The Taliban before they were deposed were also forcing non-Muslims to wear identifying tags (like the Nazis did to the Jews and homosexuals and others). There is no way that anyone will convince me that loving-kindness means that I have to unconditionally approve of such things. Now Buddhism does teach that I should have loving-kindness and compassion for all beings, but part of that is to speak the truth about that which is delusional, harmful, and hateful and to instead direct people to that which is sane and wholesome.

    Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,
    Ryuei

  25. flecktones
    flecktones August 10, 2006 at 3:55 pm | |

    Ryuei,
    I dig what you are saying. People of all faiths believe there path will bring salvation just like we believe in Buddhism. We must accept their beliefs, even if we completely disagree with there path. Even if there god is different, has different morals, and a different ideology. It’s ok to disagree with someones religion, but saying its dead wrong and my way is the only way strikes me as problematic.

    My main point is that too much harm has been done by people saying my god is right, and someone elses god is wrong. If their practice doesn’t harm you, and has a positive message then we must let it be. How many innocent people have been slaughtered in the name of religion?

    Obviously what the Taliban does in the name of Islam is completely wrong, and the act of killing in the name of religions is wrong, but that doesn’t discredit the entire religion.

  26. katyzen
    katyzen August 10, 2006 at 7:31 pm | |

    The book I would reccomend to someone interested in Zen is Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
    There’s also
    Opening the hand of thought, by Uchiyama
    and Zen Shorts by Muth (this is a children’s book and makes 1/2 the books on Buddhism seem so ho-hum.

  27. nai wakara
    nai wakara August 10, 2006 at 8:25 pm | |

    jeez, people get all critical, it’s just a blog. i love that anyone is talking about this stuff on a down-to-earth way and respects the rules of the thing (no drugs). you can barley have a discussion on buddhism online without someone saying buddah ate shrooms or some nonsence.

    anyway. i really like the old alan watts lectures. it’s just relaxing to hear him talk. but of course he didn’t practice what he preached and worse he gets a lot of basic facts plain wrong. people get a little too into him.

  28. Infernon
    Infernon August 11, 2006 at 7:22 am | |

    “Some of my best friends are Rinzai…”

    That was a great line! I don’t know if anyone else caught it…

  29. cromanyak
    cromanyak August 11, 2006 at 7:56 pm | |

    There’s two books by Nishijima on Ebay in case anyone wants to know.

    Just search Nishijima in books.

  30. Alan Gregory Wonderwheel
    Alan Gregory Wonderwheel August 11, 2006 at 9:55 pm | |

    It’s worth combing through used book stores to find Buddha is the Ceneter of Gravity.

  31. Alan Gregory Wonderwheel
    Alan Gregory Wonderwheel August 11, 2006 at 9:56 pm | |

    It’s worth combing through used book stores to find Buddha is the Center of Gravity.

  32. Rick
    Rick August 12, 2006 at 6:04 pm | |

    As for books on Zen, the best ones in my opinion have been: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Hardcore Zen, and the two books by Charlotte Joko Beck.

    They all resonate with the same message, such as it is.

  33. katyzen
    katyzen August 12, 2006 at 7:15 pm | |

    How could I have left Hardcore Zen off my list! Mindfulness in Plain English is not too shabby either.

  34. JustKeith
    JustKeith August 13, 2006 at 7:52 am | |

    For whatever it’s worth (which is not much), my favorite Zen books have been Hardcore Zen; Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind; To Meet the Real Dragon; and Moby Dick (I’d argue that Queequeq is certainly a Zen master).

  35. JustKeith
    JustKeith August 13, 2006 at 8:30 am | |

    I have also benefited from Dogens Fukanzazengi, translated as
    “Recommending Zazen to All People” by Edward Brown and Kazuaki Tanahashi. Their excellent translation can be found in the books Beyond Thinking and Enlightenment Unfolds.

  36. Bob J.
    Bob J. August 13, 2006 at 7:18 pm | |

    My opinion is that the two best books on Buddhism are (1) the Shobogenzo, and (2) whatever it takes to get you to read the Shobogenzo. In my case, it was Brad’s book; that will depend on the personality of the reader.

    I do love books on the history of Buddhism, however, since I think the books that try to “explain” it have failed before they start. The only way to understand is to sit. I just think the history is interesting.

    I would recommend Zen Buddhism: A History by Heinrich Dumouin (2 volumes); How the Swans Came to the Lake by Rick Fields (history of Buddhism in American); and Shoes Outside the Door by Michael Downing (which is all about the San Francisco Zen Center; I did a blog entry on it at http://ratzaz.blogspot.com/2006/06/shoes-outside-door.html.

    I think any book that gets you to sit zazen is a good book.

  37. Milan Davidovic
    Milan Davidovic August 14, 2006 at 8:07 am | |

    “I decided I was being a bit curmudgeonly about what “spiritual type” books I’ve read.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Personally, I think curmudgeonliness becomes you — it looks very Zen (not sissy Zen, the manly, samurai stuff).

    ha!

  38. Anatman
    Anatman August 14, 2006 at 6:37 pm | |

    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu’s Handbook for Mankind

  39. Andrew
    Andrew August 15, 2006 at 2:01 pm | |

    Not directly zen, but a must imo, I AM THAT by Nisargadatta Maharaj.

  40. nai wakara
    nai wakara September 16, 2006 at 6:19 am | |

    shobogenzo post wouldn’t allow comments…

    interesting review.

  41. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 14, 2007 at 2:27 am | |

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  42. Placid
    Placid May 11, 2009 at 2:15 am | |

    I read “ZEN FLESH, ZEN BONES” by Paul Reps.
    I haven’t liked it. I don’t see the point. May be I’m not intelligent enough to “get it”.

  43. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 14, 2014 at 10:56 am | |

    I find books on Zen are useful in only one way; they help me recognize things that I learn from sitting. It’s good to re-read an old text and find that some piece of complete gibberish now makes perfect sense.

    I find Charlotte Beck’s book to be the best for this.

    Amazingly enough, I can even get that flash of recognition when I read Brad Warner’s books.

    Imagine that!

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