27 January 2008

Zen flesh, zen bones, zen cat

Ever since I had a chance encounter with a Buddha on a Montreal street last October, I have developed an interest in zen. The size of my zen library, previously consisting only of Alan Watts' The Way of Zen, was doubled a week ago when I picked up this little book, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, at the used bookstore. It is a compilation by Paul Reps of many short zen "stories", translated from the Japanese by Nyogen Senzaki and first published as 3 separate books in the 1930s. The 4th chapter was published as a magazine article in 1955.


One thing I enjoy about a used book is seeing the previous owner's name in it. This book had at least 2 previous owners, Rick Bisbee and Mary Olson, who left their names on the inside cover.


I have no idea who they were and when they may have read this book; no printing date is given for this edition.

I like reading the stories in the book at nite before going to sleep; some make sense, some don't, which is, of course, the case with everything else in life. Here is the very first one:


The scribbling at the bottom seems to be in Mr. Bisbee's handwriting, who apparently understood how one needs to go about learning zen. That is, if it is indeed what one needs to do.

And here is Temi enlightening herself with the essence of zen.



Dave Coulter said...

That's a cool find. It looks old? You might want to see if it's worth something before the cat runs off with it!


Naah, I checked Amazon, there is a newer edition in print & many cheap used copies. I want to keep it anyway.

pascal said...

RE: Tea - that's a useful metaphor for an introductory lecture: perhaps I'll use it next time.