12.3.12

BOOK REVIEW: SHOES OUTSIDE THE DOOR (MICHAEL DOWNING)

This book came highly recommended by quite a few, and I understand why.
It is an important story of how badly things can go. I could not have
written the story better.
And it also might have given me some insight into one of the myriad reasons
why I do not care for institutionalized religion.

Yep, it is a Buddha Drama book.
It is not so very much about sitting. Or maybe it is, under layers of
drama, all about sitting.
I can say that this type of book goes against my preferences. But this is
not to say it is a bad book by any means. Still, it is inspirational to me
in that after reading it I am quite comfortable with throwing out the baby
with the bath water when it comes to "Buddhism."

After all, The Buddha Dharma was never about the baby in the first place.

I would love to hear your responses, but I cannot access blogger or my gmail
account from where I am right now. If you know me, you can write me at
firstname.lastname@essex.usmc.mil. I would enjoy hearing from my good
friends.

4 comments:

Robin said...

(I'll comment here and then copy-paste into an email.) I agree that this is an important book. I'd go so far as to say that nobody should be issued a Licence to Practise Zen until they've read it. (But you forgot to tell people what's it's about, Jordan! For anyone interested, it's a forensic dissection of the way the San Francisco Zen Centre, the Vatican of American Zen, became a Jonestown-style cult and then melted down in the 1970s.)

There are some shaky passages, owing to the fact that the author isn't Buddhist. The most glaring was when he failed to spot the pracice of asubha. I'll go no farther, so as not to spoil the story for other readers, but he turned an already creepy practice into something straight out of a horror movie by not doing his research.

But I think Shoes and Zen at War (the book I reviewed recently) should bookend any Zenner's library. I hear a lot of arrogant pronouncements in Zen circles, how our practice is superior to Christianity and "why", how we're the "good guys" and everyone else merely human. It took me a lifetime to extricate myself from the Church; I ain't lookin' to intricate myself all over again.

Thanks for the great post, Jordan!

Robin

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Robin said...

Well, Jordan, I don't have your last name, so I can't email the above. Sorry!

Robin

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Jordan said...

Thanks for the thoughts Robin. I'm back in Okinawa now.

Pigasus said...

People speak of an institution- I can't see where it begins or ends.

How do we throw the baby out with the bath water? And if we do this, what is left? No water? No baby?

Thanks for looking!