A Straight Road with 99 Curves: Coming of Age on the Path of Zen

Gregory Shepherd, Author, Ruben Lf Habito, Foreword by
Gregory Shepherd. Stone Bridge (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-61172-011-2
Reviewed on: 03/11/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Lifting its title from a paradoxical Zen statement, Shepherd, a professor of music, traces his innermost thoughts, questions, and misgivings about Zen, a branch of Buddhism, over the course of his life. He writes an achingly honest bildungsroman, in which he confronts the prideful and self-important young man he once was, who strove not only to attain enlightenment but also to be content and peaceful with himself. Because he is neither Zen Master nor monk, his portrayal of his brash younger self is a fresh and intensely human portrait compared to the perfect, innocuous paragons of peace ordinarily presented in Zen texts. Shepherd's eventual fallout with Zen, his gradual maturation, and his retrospective reflection on his younger days lead him to return to the practice and a constant questioning and re-examination of the self. Though primarily focusing on existential questions arising from the Zen lifestyle, Shepherd's memoir transcends its subject matter and serves as a poignant reminder of something more fundamental to the human condition: the continual search for validity and meaning. (Apr.)
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