BEA showgoers won't find author Shozan Jack Haubner at any autographings or book signings. His book, Zen Confidential, is however, being given away at the Shambhala booth (2946). It seems that Shozan learned while he was living the transcendental life at a Buddhist monastery that giving it away was, well, the only way. "In terms of pursuing career goals, I wasn't having much luck. And the more I tried to chase after things, the more they escaped my grasp. You negate your ego on this path, but the self is going to arise in the next moment," he says. And sometimes his ‘self' isn't the most manageable person to be around—one of many things that comes to light in this wry memoir about struggling with life the Namaste way.
Shozan, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, came to practice Zen Buddhism after difficulties with identity. "I lived in Hollywood for a while and had all sorts of ideas about being a Western individualist, a writer, I dressed. And I just took these things for granted. This was my identity. And after I became a monk, shaved my head, put on my robes, and got a new name—and began sinking into this new identity—that old me, I realized, was just as much of a costume as this new one. It was as much of a role, and I took it completely for granted before."
Such circuitous, self-negating thinking is at the core of these clever stories. After all, you can never tell what they're thinking, those with minds open to enlightenment. When asked about the ego-negating goals of selling a book Shozan responded: "There's a long history in Zen literature of Zen masters denigrating the whole process of writing and getting things down into words."