Start-Up Kits for Zen Buddhism
What are the Zen Buddhist takes on detachment, equanimity, karma, compassion, and balance? For the basics, we recommend The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism by Jean Smith; Essential Zen by Kazuaka Tanahashi and Tensho David Schneider, and Simple Zen: A Guide to Living Moment to Moment by Annellen and C. Alexander Simpkinson.
Everyday Spirituality a la Zen
According to these books, the routines of our everyday lives can become our practice: Sweeping Changes by Gary Thorp, Zen 24/7: All Zen/All the Time by Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen and the Art of Anything by Hal French, This Truth Never Fails by David Rynick, and Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life by Karen Maezen Miller.
Zen Stories to Savor
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (1 million copies sold) is a timeless collection of Zen stories filled with deep reserves of wit and wisdom. For more of the same, look into Zen Fables for Today containing parables and tales from ancient and modern Zen masters. One Bird, One Stone is a collection of stories from Buddhist centers in America.
The Zen of Everything It is amazing how fluid, adaptable, and relevant the Zen path can be, as evidenced by these resources: The Zen of Oz, The Zen of Listening, The Zen of Creativity, The Zen of Helping, The Zen of Eating, The Zen of Living and Dying.
Creating a Practice Menu
In an excerpt from At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Choices, Zen writer and teacher Ezra Bayda shares what he calls the creation and use of a practice menu for each day of the week. Read more about this long needed idea.
Koans to Ponder
Koans take the form of questions, phrases, or single words that are given to a student of Zen by his or her teacher. The idea is to come to a deeper appreciation of the mystery and unpredictability of life. John Tarrant explores these tricky and profound questions in Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy.
Zen Gardens "
Become one with nature, then follow its requests," writes Judith Glover in her elegant book In a Zen Garden: Words and Wisdom for the Zen Gardener. Here you will find material on ikebana (flower arrangement), bonsai (the art of miniaturizing trees), and mujokan (the transience and impermanent quality of life) as a salute to Zen simplicity and beauty.
Zen masters see bowing as a spiritual practice that emphasizes respect and is built upon humility. Meditators usually begin a session with a bow. Zen writer Peter Matthiessen even bows to his hotel room as he is leaving. For a fine overview of bowing in all traditions read The Sacred Art of Bowing: Preparing to Practice by Andi Young.
Finding Inner Peace
So much of the pain and frustration of life comes from our habitual separating what we like from what we dislike and from constantly judging others. In this excerpt from her book Zen Miracles: Finding Peace in an Insane World, Zen teacher Brenda Shoshanna explores other options to a more tranquil and harmonious life.
How to Cook Your Life is a playful documentary about Zen Master Edward Epse Brown and his practice of giving 100% to the task of cooking in the kitchen. Read interviews with him and director Doris Dorrie. Watch a clip from the Spiritual Literacy DVDs in which Zen cookbook author Bettina Vitell talks about how the kitchen wakes us up.
Building Bridges Between Zen and Christianity Interfaith dialogue lives in the spiritual adventures of Christians who are benefitting from their exploration of the riches of Zen. Examples are Zen Gifts to Christians; Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit; Zen for Christians;Living Zen, Loving God; and Light Sitting in Light.
Sitting with Trees In The Attentive Heart, Stephanie Kaza described how through the Zen practice of shikantaza — just sitting — she cultivated an I-thou relationship with oaks, maples, sycamores, Douglas firs, and other trees. In this excerpt she shows us how to be truly present with these beings.