Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``I want to be a Zen master,'' declared the 24-year-old, altruistic Irish scholar Maura O'Halloran; and these letters and journal entries chronicle her experience in pursuit of that goal from 1979 through 1982 in Japan. Her pages provide a clear window for those curious about the reality of Zen training. Profound episodes (begging in the snow) co-exist with lighter moments (``At times I feel like a cow in labour . . . my koan is mu''). Her account is all the more poignant for the fact that she met an untimely death at 27 in a bus accident in Thailand while on her way home to start a Zen center in Ireland. Her substantial gift of insight is a fine legacy. Illustrated. (May)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Most mystical experiences are almost impossible to describe, but this book comes close to conveying true Zen consciousness. It's also a fascinating picture of an Irish American girl dropped in the midst of a male monastery in Japan in the late 1970s. One shivers at her descriptions of begging in the snow, cooking and cleaning while adjusting to both the traditional disciplines and to the mercurial characters of fellow monks. What a victory when she received ordination, after two years, much work, and a few puzzling enlightenments. And what a mystery when her life was cut short at age 27 by a tragic accident. This account, in journal entries and letters home, should become a classic in the Zen literature involving Westerners. Recommended for all large libraries.-- Jeanne S. Bagby, formerly with Tucson P.L., Ariz.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA-A compilation of O'Halloran's journal entries and letters written while she prepared for her formal Zen ``enlightenment achieved'' ceremony and certificate. The 1,000 days of training included a month of exposure to the cold, begging, zazen (sitting meditation), and many hours of cleaning and cooking. From 1979 through the summer of 1983, she lived in Tokyo as a nun; she was killed in a bus accident in Thailand in 1983. Her writings contain everyday happenings, complaints, descriptions of events, and comments on cultural differences and similarities. O'Halloran's mother writes a brief biographical introduction to give some knowledge of her daughter's early life, but the journals and letters themselves don't indicate why she chose to become a nun or how this training might affect her future. The writings do contain insightful observations of Japanese family life, particularly of the Zen master and his family. A book that will appeal to YAs interested in religion, contemplation, and/or interaction with other cultures. The tone is light, and there is not much doctrinal explanation. A quiet, relaxing read.-Clodagh Lee, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA