Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times, Ji Hyang Padma, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, IL, 2013, pp. 228, $14.95
As I read this book, I kept thinking this is one of the most practical book that I've recently read. So many of my books get weighted down with theory that I lose sight of the goal. Practice becomes just an item that can be useful IF you apply it to the theory. Somewhere I quickly thought of the quote that I have jotted down in my Journal and periodically review:
"Disciples and devotees…what are most of them doing? Worshiping the teapot instead of drinking the tea!”
Wei Wu Wei
This book drinks the tea and follows a pattern: A short discussion with frequent and interesting personal stories. Then an exercise and/or practice is given. These are not to be skipped. They do such a wonderful job of reinforcing the content.
The highlight came when I was reading the praise that Quest used to promote this book. One of the persons was the famous author, poet, and translator: Red Pine (Bill Porter). Red Pine is one of my favorite authors, and I decided on the spot to include him in the review below. In closing, this is what he said about Living the Season. "In practicing Zen, nothing beats the practice. Ji Hyang's new book, Living the Season, is exceptional in focusing on just that and not in indulging in conceptual fantasies and Zen – she gives us a cup of tea instead of just talk about tea, a cup of tea she hands us to taste for ourselves."
Exactly what Wei Wu Wei and I have been saying.
Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits, Bill Porter, Mercury House, San Francisco, CA, 1993, pp. 221, $14.00
Many people are familial with this book; either from reading it or more likely, seeing the program on Public Television in the United States. There is a follow-up DVD that you can purchase with adds to the story. This can also be found on YouTube at Amongst White Clouds
Here, American director Edward A. Burger takes us on a journey into the hidden lives of China's forgotten Zen Buddhist .
You will find the book to be a combination of travel log, interviews, adventure and wisdom teaching from the various hermits Bill Porter (a.k.a. Red Pine) meets. For those of you who have romanticized this lifestyle, read this book first. In most cases, these monks have given up everything and barely survive. I was surprised at the number that starved to death! If you have a serious interest in Zen and Taoist history, this book is a must read.
Notable books is a series compiled by Dr. Ralph Hannon.