These hilarious essays on life inside and outside a Zen monastery make up the spiritual memoir of Shozan Jack Haubner, a Zen monk who didn’t really start out to be one. Raised in a conservative Catholic family, Shozan went on to study philosophy (becoming de-Catholicized in the process) and to pursue a career as a screenwriter and stand-up comic in the clubs of L.A. How he went from life in the fast lane to life on the stationary meditation cushion is the subject of this laugh-out-loud funny account of his experiences. Whether he’s dealing with the pranks of a juvenile delinquent assistant in the monastery kitchen or defending himself against claims that he appeared in a porno movie under the name “Daniel Reed” (he didn’t, really) or being surprised in the midst of it all by the compassion he experiences in the presence of his teacher, Haubner’s voice is one you'll be compelled to listen to. Not only because it’s highly entertaining, but because of its remarkable insight into the human condition.
©2013 Shozan Jack Haubner (P)2014 Audible Inc.
I have listened to several books about Zen... mainly the one's written for a Westerner who has an interest in or cursory acquaintance with the practice. Shozan Jack Haubner's book seemed to fit that criteria, so I downloaded it. Also, this book's credit line lists Leonard Cohen as a contributor, which is also part of the reason I bought it.... Zen + Leonard Cohen, what more could I ask?
However, Leonard Cohen wasn't even mentioned in the book and that was a negative. I may have missed the Cohen intro or some other contribution, but as far as I could tell, he was nowhere to be found. I anticipated at least a reading by him and therefore was disappointed with this absence.
I forged on, though, because I do like a good memoir and "Zen Confidential" seemed to be a good beginner's book on Zen, written from the viewpoint of Shozan Jack Haubner, a former Catholic.
And it wasn't bad... & wasn't great.
Shozan Haubner seemed to veer a little too far towards simplifying the lessons he wanted to convey to his readers. He found that most of life's complex problems should be usefully compared with excrement -- and the act of producing or not being able to produce it.
This got a little tedious. Yeah, I get it. Life is full of IT. I'm sure we all have felt that is the case some, if not most, days. It's probably why religions and philosophies evolved to begin with. In order to deal with ordure.
But after a couple of chapters, I began to think, "Shouldn't I be getting more from this ordained teacher's observation than life is full of the never ending production of feces?"
But maybe that's Zen. Being hit over the head with the obvious while hoping to learn more of life's meaning. And assuming there must be more. Or else why even write a memoir, let alone read or listen to it.
My only other observation is about his narration. My Southern ear really had a time getting used to his vowels and accent. Was it Northeast with a bit of Japanese? I dunno. He pronounced Las Vegas like "VAG-us"' rhyming with "BAG-us." That drove me nuts.
You may get more from this book than I. If there was some Zen "thing" I didn't get other than life is a Big B.M., then I'm guessing that just may be the nature of the beast.
Highly recommended. The author links the guts and grime of being human with the innate desire and search for the beauty of the spiritual.
Who never zen monks were human ??? Or had more baggage than me??
Great insightful book into monastic life. The good, the not so good and the ugly!!! This is a very eye opening and honest book about the human experience, for all of us. Not just for a person searching to be enlightened.
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