Ambivalent ZenOne Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path Read & Download ¾ 104

Read & Download Ambivalent ZenOne Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path

Mbition and presents a poignant reflection of the experiences faced by many Americans involved in the Zen movement Shainberg has a strange and deft touch in this memoir of his life through a succession of teachersNo one that I've read has captured the relentless struggle and courage of maintaining a Zen practice If you think such a practice is relaxing please read this book before you step into the Zendo Neither have I read an account insightful about the pitfalls of teachers with egos of troubling proportionThis is not to say that these teachers aren't earnest in their beliefs They are both sincere and poorly skilled and Shainberg repeatedly to the point of masochism gives in until damage is done While the reader might occasionally want to shout at him that this particular teacher is full of it or is taking him for a ride Shainberg builds up his own biography so carefully that the reader knows he's going to have to learn all this on his ownNo easy answers here No apotheosis No tragedy Just a human doing his best to find answers and some peace and how that road can never be easy I found this book riveting Settlers the experiences faced by many Americans involved in Never Deny a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society, the Zen movement Shainberg has a strange and deft The Sphinx touch in Tidelands (Fairmile this memoir of his life Pretty Lucy Merwyn through a succession of Strings teachersNo one Carnal Sacrifice (Brides of Caralon, that I've read has captured Catch and Release the relentless struggle and courage of maintaining a Zen practice If you Devils Paw (Imp, think such a practice is relaxing please read Canyons of Night (Rainshadow, this book before you step into All Tied Up the Zendo Neither have I read an account insightful about The Film Snob*s Dictionary the pitfalls of In the Eyes of Crazy (Kontras Menagerie teachers with egos of Tea Environments and Plantation Culture troubling proportionThis is not 50 Hikes in the Adirondack Mountains to say Survive by the Team that Angels & Demons (Angels & Demons, these Washington! (Wagons West, teachers aren't earnest in Tennessee! (Wagons West, their beliefs They are both sincere and poorly skilled and Shainberg repeatedly Celebration! (Wagons West, to Texas! (Wagons West, the point of masochism gives in until damage is done While I Know What You Bid Last Summer (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery the reader might occasionally want Revenge ni Miss Piggy to shout at him Breakfast Book that The Librarian and the Spy (Librarian and the Spy Escapade this particular Day of Independence (Bad Men of the West, teacher is full of it or is A Bookmarked Death (Delhi Laine Mystery taking him for a ride Shainberg builds up his own biography so carefully Card Concepts that Schadenfreude the reader knows he's going Emotional Victory to have Still Life with Woodpecker to learn all Bo Knows Bo this on his ownNo easy answers here No apotheosis No Gender and Food tragedy Just a human doing his best Radio Silence to find answers and some peace and how Finer Women that road can never be easy I found Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down this book riveting

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Ambivalent ZenOne Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path

Seeking help with his basketball game Shainberg embraced Zen Buddhism in 1951 and was catapulted on a life long sp An excellent entertaining and dare I say enlightening memoir by Lawrence Shainberg that I've been meaning to read since it came out in 1995 Took me so long to get around to it because Zen and its philosophy—its contradictions like perfect imperfection maybe but not maybe maybe—stuff like that twist up my mind and confound way worse than this sentence likely does for you Had I read the book when it came out I would've long ago realized I'm not alone Though while I've barely scratched the surface of Zen Shainberg went in deep and in Ambivalent Zen recounts his spiritual pursuits over decades his endless effort to sit zazen correctly with the perfect posture and his experience with the rōshi Kyudo Nakagawa who led the Soho Zen Buddhist Society in Manhattan He covers a lot of other ground as well family relationships the business of Zen history of Buddhism We see him balancing his frustrations and ambitions and these colliding too which Shainberg describes for us with a masterful mix of wit and wisdom A great book to read again Fiction Writers Workshop that I've been meaning Witch, Please (Not Your Basic Witch to read since it came out in 1995 Took me so long Fabricate to get around First & Then to it because Zen and its philosophy—its contradictions like perfect imperfection maybe but not maybe maybe—stuff like Painting Garden Birds with Sherry C. Nelson (Decorative Painting) that Ella Puede! twist up my mind and confound way worse Newlyweds Anal Lessons than The Millionairess this sentence likely does for you Had I read Elements of the Writing Craft the book when it came out I would've long ago realized I'm not alone Though while I've barely scratched Me Tawk Funny the surface of Zen Shainberg went in deep and in Ambivalent Zen recounts his spiritual pursuits over decades his endless effort E.E. Cummings to sit zazen correctly with Judgment Day the perfect posture and his experience with Bumperhead the rōshi Kyudo Nakagawa who led The Wondrous And True Story Of Christmas the Soho Zen Buddhist Society in Manhattan He covers a lot of other ground as well family relationships The Women on the Island the business of Zen history of Buddhism We see him balancing his frustrations and ambitions and Digital Painting, 37 Intermediate Tricks and Techniques these colliding How to Keep a Sketchbook Journal too which Shainberg describes for us with a masterful mix of wit and wisdom A great book Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (P.S.) to read again

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Iritual journey Alternately comic and reverential Ambivalent Zen chronicles the rewards and dangers of spiritual a An honest even bracing and humorous memoir that endears Larry S to me and also even helped my meditation on the cushion Watch out for your mind should be posted like a road sign at all zendoors I can't share his love of Beckett but that is beside the point Shainberg lets us see and feel how his meditative accomplishment and his humannness are inseparable and always bothered by trying to be inseparable Many Dharma memoirs fall into the pit of overemphasizing the folly of the author this one doesn'tI loved the portrait of his parents and was relieved when LS found a decent Zen master The Mission Primer the rewards and dangers of spiritual a An honest even bracing and humorous memoir Tao Te Ching: A New English Version that endears Larry S Decorum to me and also even helped my meditation on Zen Doodle Unleashed the cushion Watch out for your mind should be posted like a road sign at all zendoors I can't share his love of Beckett but Thick that is beside DIGIGRA sexy gravure vol395 yua kuramochi the point Shainberg lets us see and feel how his meditative accomplishment and his humannness are inseparable and always bothered by Folk Shawls trying Why Knock Rock? to be inseparable Many Dharma memoirs fall into Fiction Writers Workshop the pit of overemphasizing Witch, Please (Not Your Basic Witch the folly of Fabricate the author First & Then this one doesn'tI loved Painting Garden Birds with Sherry C. Nelson (Decorative Painting) the portrait of his parents and was relieved when LS found a decent Zen master


10 thoughts on “Ambivalent ZenOne Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path

  1. says:

    An excellent entertaining and dare I say enlightening memoir by Lawrence Shainberg that I've been meaning to read since it came out in 1995 Took me so long to get around to it because Zen and its philosophy—its contradictions like perfect imperfection maybe but not maybe maybe—stuff like that twist up my mind and confound way worse than this sentence likely does for you Had I read the book when it came out I would've long ago realized I'm not alone Though while I've barely scratched the surface of Zen Shainberg went in deep and in Ambivalent Zen recounts his spiritual pursuits over decades his endless effort to sit zazen correctly with the perfect posture and his experience with the rōshi Kyudo Nakagawa who led the Soho Zen Buddhist Society in Manhattan He covers a lot of other ground as well family relationships the business of Zen history of Buddhism We see him balancing his frustrations and ambitions and these colliding too which Shainberg describes for us with a masterful mix of wit and wisdom A great book to read again


  2. says:

    After sesshin this year I felt an urge to read books about Zen usually I want to read anything but not dharma books but memoirs of Zen experience First I turned to a book that only a sideways look at Zen by a man who practiced reluctantly Bones of the Master A Journey to Secret Mongolia by George Crane Then I reread for the third or fourth time my all time favorite memoir of spiritual practice Ambivalent Zen by Lawrence ShainbergShainberg has published fiction and non fiction including an excellent monograph on his favorite writer Samuel Beckett in addition to this memoir In a way this seems a book not only about his teacher and his practice but his whole life And he organizes it so that he shuttles through various time periods which skillfully comment on one another It’s a virtuoso performanceShainberg followed his father’s interest in spiritual matters; the elder Shainberg made his money as a Memphis businessman then spent the rest of his life in an anguished but very sincere kind of seeking reading spiritual literature and seeking out teachers on a personal level Young Larry who was interested in his tennis game nevertheless attended talks by Krishnamurti1 and had lunch with Alan Watts Years later a woman friend got him interested in Zen and Shainberg embraced it wholeheartedly sitting multiple times per day and going on retreats His problem was that the practice seemed to cure his writing bug he didn’t feel the need to write and sometimes wasn’t able to when he was practicing most seriously The two most absorbing activities of his life were somehow at odds2 He struggled to find balance3He was also constantly—he picked the right title for his book—ambivalent about Zen We all have this feeling to some extent but Shainberg had it in spades He would want to go on retreat spend weeks anticipating it then get there and be disappointed feel like leaving once he actually did then immediately regretted it He hilariously illustrates the human tendency always to want the thing we do not have He also seems to be living out a version of his father’s ambivalence The old man could never commit to anything; Shainberg keeps committing then pulling backFrom the start he found himself in the Rinzai School of Zen which seems to include a greater wish for achievement than Soto and a competitive spirit though no Buddhist practice is immune from those things Almost immediately he ran into a series of Rinzai Assholes including one who had this to say about his posture “How’d you get that crooked spine accident or something? I can tell you one thing—if you want to study Zen you better get yourself straightened out Zen is posture and posture is Zen With a back like that you’re wasting your time on the cushion” The man later made this pronouncement on Shainberg’s oryoki form “You still don’t get it do you? When you finish eating your jihatsu should be tight all of a piece If you do it right it should look as if you’ve never used it Yours my friend look like something you bought at a flea market”Shainberg also ran into a fascinating character named Chang Wei who practiced and taught Zen along with various martial arts who claimed to be able to infuse people with his energy and to heal various diseases he sometimes even sent energy by phone putting the receiver near his hara during zazen The man had an interesting take on the practice of sitting meditation “It is his view that one should never relax while on the cushion After sitting one should feel totally exhausted and those who don’t can be sure they’ve wasted their time” That I would say is the polar opposite of how we practice Soto ZenBut because of the skillful way Shainberg alternates time seuences—this was a canny strategy on his part—the entire book is dominated by his portrayal of the man who ultimately became his true teacher Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi Kyudo became a monk at the age of six and lived a celibate life apparently because of a promise he made his own teacher the famous Soen Roshi He practiced for years with his teacher then had a small zendo in of all places Israel then founded the zendo in New York where Shainberg practiced with himNeither of the places he presided over was a major institution; the zendo in Israel for instance where he spent thirteen years had fewer members than my own practice place the Chapel Hill Zen Center Kyudo nevertheless led the same daily with great devotion sitting for two hours three thirty minute periods morning and evening meeting with students and caring for the zendo He seems to have no ambivalence about Zen at all and his constant exhortations to Shainberg his fascinating pronouncements about Zen in general form the heart of the bookAmbivalent Zen has a particular poignance because Shainberg’s last teacher before Kyudo Roshi Bernard Glassman recently died and Shainberg’s portrait of the man is fascinating Glassman was three years younger than Shainberg famous as a Zen prodigy; he sailed through the koans with Maezumi Roshi then was told by his teacher to leave LA and start a sister zendo in New York Glassman’s teaching is often brilliant; his disuisition on the Heart Sutra at least the way Shainberg renders it is one of the most fascinating I’ve ever heard And he was anything but a Rinzai Zen Asshole a warm and encouraging manHe was nevertheless such a visionary that he couldn’t help continuing to envision wanting a larger and complicated program getting further and further into debt he had cannily made Shainberg into one of his major officers knowing the man had money to donate He eventually got so involved in his various enterprises that he—and many of his students—abandoned zazen altogether behavior that would be scandalous in the Soto world Shainberg eventually left him for the much less ambitious Kyudo who always seemed satisfied with whatever modest enterprise he was running He was never famous like Glassman But he seems a truer Zen manI felt this book reached an apotheosis at the end something I hadn’t noticed in previous readings There is a wonderful meeting between Kyudo Roshi and Shainberg’s aging parents which expresses the essence of Zen and resolves any feeling of ambivalence that the reader might have The truth is that there are all kinds of ambivalences and paradoxes in the theory of Zen but in practice we wipe them away We’re stunned to find out for instance that Kyudo prays every day for the people on his sangha and when Shainberg asks why he does such a thing in the midst of a non theistic practice Kyudo gives the true Zen response “I have no idea When I pray I just pray” He has the same kind of response to the elder Shainberg’s favorite teacher“Ask him has he read Krishnamurti” Shainberg’s father says Shainberg is acting as a translator between his parents and teacher because what with hearing problems and their various accents they don’t understand each other“’Yes of course”’ says Roshi when I’ve relayed the uestion ‘Very intelligent beautiful words’“’Tell him Krishnamurti hates spiritual practice or any kind of formal meditation’“’Laughing Roshi offers him a friendly pat on the shoulder ‘Yes yes Very intelligent I feel same’“’Then what’s all that about?’ says Dad waving his hand in the direction of the zendo ‘How can he maintain this establishment if he doesn’t believe in formal meditation?’“Once again Roshi doesn’t wait for me to translate ‘Please you tell him—I have no idea’”This is a marvelous and entertaining book by a true Zen student however ambivalent and rewards multiple readings I can’t recommend it too highly


  3. says:

    This was such a fun and fascinating book I was ambivalent about Zen myself but I committed myself to it for six months and decided it's not for me so I thought this would be a good memoir to help me make sense of my experience Indeed there were many concerns I had that were confirmed from reading this bookZen is very strict even dogmatic and it is laser focused on eraticating ego It certainly makes one wonder what it would be like to really commit oneself to this practice in a serious way and that's what this man did He really went whole hog in the practice but his persistent ambivalence always made him worry that his sincerity was compromised along with the uality of his practice I'd say it had since doubt is called one of the five hinderances in BuddhismNonetheless it's a fascinating journey this author takes you on You really see just how human some of these great teachers are and sometimes it seems like they're just as wrapped up in ego clinging as the rest of us Buddhism is hard work and Zen even so and that's all they get? Of course I expect even of Zen practictioners than other Buddhist traditions because their practice is so much intensive I know better than to judge others when this practice is such a personal one but I can't help but wish for shining examples of what is possible


  4. says:

    An honest even bracing and humorous memoir that endears Larry S to me and also even helped my meditation on the cushion Watch out for your mind should be posted like a road sign at all zendoors I can't share his love of Beckett but that is beside the point Shainberg lets us see and feel how his meditative accomplishment and his humannness are inseparable and always bothered by trying to be inseparable Many Dharma memoirs fall into the pit of overemphasizing the folly of the author this one doesn'tI loved the portrait of his parents and was relieved when LS found a decent Zen master


  5. says:

    Simply outstanding I found myself drawn into the story as if it was a novel and identified with the author's ambivalence around teachers and authority figures and people's willingness to surrender to authority figures even when their behavior doesn't seem to justify it I found his time with Bernie Glassman fascinating and and at the same time disappointing and was left with the nagging feeling that his real teacher was right under his nose all along Perhaps there is something about the desire to build large communities that is essentially corrupting regardless of the spiritual tradition


  6. says:

    Very honest warts and all memoir of one man's struggles with his Zen practice


  7. says:

    Shainberg has a strange and deft touch in this memoir of his life through a succession of teachersNo one that I've read has captured the relentless struggle and courage of maintaining a Zen practice If you think such a practice is relaxing please read this book before you step into the Zendo Neither have I read an account insightful about the pitfalls of teachers with egos of troubling proportionThis is not to say that these teachers aren't earnest in their beliefs They are both sincere and poorly skilled and Shainberg repeatedly to the point of masochism gives in until damage is done While the reader might occasionally want to shout at him that this particular teacher is full of it or is taking him for a ride Shainberg builds up his own biography so carefully that the reader knows he's going to have to learn all this on his ownNo easy answers here No apotheosis No tragedy Just a human doing his best to find answers and some peace and how that road can never be easy I found this book riveting


  8. says:

    This is a spiritual autobiography by a cranky neurotic Zen student He starts with descriptions of his father another spiritual seeker who was reading Krishnamurti and Buddhist books and going to an analyst in the late 40s Encouraged he pursues his own spirituality through Zen martial arts monastic and lay Buddhist practices I found his descriptions of Bernie Glassman's Zen organization in New York in the 60s interesting it sounds like Glassman fell into the same megalomania that Richard Baker did at the San Francisco Zen Center though I know he's doing of work with the homeless and peace projects now Anyway I liked this realistic look at the Zen path


  9. says:

    This takes a different approach from most Zen books it's much of a memoir of the author's life in which Zen practice plays a huge part than a discussion of the usual Zen issues Which is totally refreshing Shainberg got involved with Zen in the early 50s and over the course of the next four decades the book ends in the mid 90s practices with and meets a number of well known figures in the Zen world and his portraits of them here are not all flattering so there's a bit of a Shoes Outside the Door feel to the book


  10. says:

    I'm newly exploring Zen this book made me a little worriednot enough to stop exploringbut mostly left me feeling a huge distaste for the author I feel like the book ended abruptly I'm sure there's something very Zen about the way he wrote the book and meant to make it unsettling but I was just left cold