"Zen Confidential: Confessions of a Wayward Monk" (Book Review)
I am almost finished with this book, which is a first-person narrative by Shozan Jack Haubner, the pen-name of a Rinzai monk in southern California. The book recounts tales from Haubner's ten years of training in a California monastery, as well as his relationship with his mentor. I have laughed quite a bit so far, as Haubner is a former screenwriter and (failed) stand-up comic with a great sense of the absurd. Much of Haubner's initial Zen training occurred during happy hours in gay bars in Los Angeles (which was his mentor's chosen location for teaching).
The stories where Haubner is the Tenzo (head cook) and the Jikijutsu (meditation leader) will make you laugh out loud. The book is full of wonderful insights, many of which have been shared with us already by Jundo and Taigu. One of my favorite passages is quoted below:
"Karl Marx called religion the opiate of the masses, but spiritual practice earnestly undertaken does not numb you. It opens you up. What does it mean to be open? The outside comes in and the inside goes out, freely. Where before there was a gatekeeper - your self - between these two worlds of inside and outside, now there is an open door. Though it often feels more like an open wound."
I would recommend this book to anyone as "light" reading that still teaches you about Zen practice.