Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review

Zen Fables For Today
By: Richard McLean

Zen? Buddhism? ... how exactly does this relate to gnosis and why would a gnostic read a book about Zen or Buddhism let alone a combination of the two? Ahhh but Grasshopper, the answer is in the question. Gnosis means knowing. The path to knowing winds and turns, rarely in a straight line, overlaps itself and then delves deeply into other religions to ferret out their kernels of gnostic truth. Zen Buddhism certainly contains some tasty morsels for thought.

In giving you a taste I hope that you will feel inclined to search out more. Here are two short excerpts.

Page 103:

"Tell me about apples," said the Roshi(teacher) to his three most promising students as he placed an apple on the table. "Whoever explains them best gets to go to Kyoto with me."

The first student explained the apples' origin and introduction into Japan and other historical lore.

The second pointed out the marketing uses for apples in cider, desserts, and applesauce.

The third said nothing. Instead he took a pen knife, cut a wedge, slipped it into the Roshi's mouth and gently pushed hi teacher's jaw upwards so the apple would squish inside his mouth.

"Precisely," said the Roshi talking around his slice of apple. "Apples cannot be explained with words. They must be experienced on the tongue. The only way to know about apples is with your mouth shut."

The class shared the remains of the apple and the third student went to Kyoto.

Lesson: Like "knowing" apples, the only way to "know" about one's place in the universe is not through the ears but through the heart.

Page 10, Mindfulness

The Zen concept of mindfulness could be described as "time hedonism." Zen offers a view of the world that is starkly practical; it says we can (and must) live in the present. And the only way to live in the present is to be present in the moment. For example, if we are washing dishes, Zen says to be there washing the dishes and living that simple action rather than tuning out. Zen labels as wasteful recriminations over the past or worry about the future. "Live now," it commands and gives us the tool to live now: mindfulness of the moment, living in the present, not squandering this precious span of life, not putting consciousness on "automatic pilot" or dreaming away today in favor of an impossible-to-predict tomorrow

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