Beyond the books of Buddhist dharma (teachings) are books about Buddhists just living. American Buddhists continue to look within, sometimes seated on a meditation cushion, other times on a motorcycle. A sampling of new books:
This Truth Never Fails: A Zen Memoir in Four Seasons by David Rynick (Wisdom, June) constitutes what the author, a Zen teacher in Worcester, Mass., calls a “ ‘Zen memoir’--a record of my ongoing practice and study of this extraordinary experience we call ordinary life.” His life is indeed ordinary--he’s not a recovering addict or celebrity--and his memoir, organized by seasons of the year, is a compendium of small insights anchored to the quotidian activities of gardening, shoveling snow, getting sick and getting well. The short observations are tied together loosely with a narrative thread about developing a Zen temple in a Victorian mansion.
A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life by Lama Marut (Atria/Beyond Words, June) is decidedly edgier. The author is a Buddhist monk, surfer, and motorcycle enthusiast with a loud-on-the-page voice as distinctive as the motorcycle silhouette on the book’s cover. The son and grandson of Baptist ministers and a former academic himself, Marut offers an offbeat and down-to-earth perspective. He is touring the U.S. and Canada this summer to support the book.
Also out this month: the eminently practical Being Well (Even When You’re Sick): Mindfulness Practices for People with Cancer and Other Serious Illnesses by Elana Rosenbaum (Shambhala). Rosenbaum is a psychotherapist and herself a cancer survivor.