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TMFSpeck --

I 'll see Ganelon's book recommendations (excellent choices) and raise him "The Three Pillars of Zen" and almost anything else by Philip Kapleau.

You mentioned a title "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Nyogen Sensaki. I have a wonderful little book of the same title by Paul Reps. I keep two or three copies on hand to share with anyone who seems sincerely interested in Zen Buddhism because the "sound bites" are short but accessible (well, mostly -- it IS Zen, after all ;) ), and it has something that will resonate for almost anyone.

I say "almost anyone" because I remember a humorous encounter some years ago when a very -- hmmm, let me say "corporate straight arrow" type of person expressed a sincere curiosity about Zen Buddhism. So I handed him my extra copy of "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" and told him the first (or thereabouts) story from the book.

There was a learned professor who visited a zen master because he wanted to question the master about the "essence" of Zen. The master said nothing, but had his guest sit down while the master made tea. When the tea was ready, the master began pouring into the cup and, when the cup overflowed, he kept on pouring. And as the tea ran over the table and dripped onto the floor, the master still kept pouring.

The puzzled professor finally burst out, "Why do you keep pouring? No more will go in!"

And the master replied, "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

I finished the story and my acquaintance (Mike) nodded and said, "Yeah, what happened then?"

That was the end of the story, I explained, and watched the most perfect expression of total befuddlement come over his face. "But, but . . ."

"Well," I said, "maybe I didn't tell the story very well. Feel free to keep the book as long as you want."

When I left, he was still bug-eyed, trying to turn that story into something with a western-style "punch line" ending.

The funny thing is that I thought it did have a western-style punch line ending, and that's why I told it.

Looks like I'm not much of a teacher. ;)

Have fun with your explorations and please keep on sharing them.


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