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Wonderland: The Zen of Alice

Wonderland: The Zen of Alice

by Daniel Doen Silberberg

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Written in the non-traditional, humorous, and slightly irreverent tone of books like Sit Down and Shut Up, and Dharma Punxs, Wonderlandis a highly original riff on Alice in Wonderland, using the classic story as a jumping off point for conveying the Zen concept of ‘One Mind’. Daniel Silberberg’s first book is a unique


Written in the non-traditional, humorous, and slightly irreverent tone of books like Sit Down and Shut Up, and Dharma Punxs, Wonderlandis a highly original riff on Alice in Wonderland, using the classic story as a jumping off point for conveying the Zen concept of ‘One Mind’. Daniel Silberberg’s first book is a unique contribution to contemporary American Zen, which honors its historic roots and yet strikes out into fresh areas. It presents a lively mix of tone and quotation and levels of discourse, from citing Timeless Spring or the Diamond Sutra to Kill Bill and ketchup. With stories from his own life as well as from the larger cultural swirl around him, Daniel Silberberg reflects on the differences between how we perceive the world around us and the way it actually is. Daniel Silberberg’s take on a variety of Buddhist ideas and concepts are immediately useful and relevant. The reader will find that it addresses directly some of the issues they are dealing with in their own practice.

The author’s insights and experiences come from his experience leading a large Zen community and from his almost thirty years of Zen Training in the lineage of the highly revered teachers Genpo Roshi and Maezumi Roshi.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this short book Silberberg weaves snippets from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with personal anecdotes, classic Buddhist sutras, koans and popular culture to illustrate Zen approaches to the true nature of enlightenment: “When we get to the other shore, to what I am calling Wonderland, we may experience One Mind.” Rather than using Zen to explain Alice, Silberberg playfully mingles, for example, the upside-down logic of the Caterpillar and Mock Turtle with the wisdom of the Diamond Sutra to explain key ideas. A longtime practitioner and former vice abbot of the Kanzeon Zen Center in Utah, the author is adept at explaining Buddhist teachings and ideas, such as the causes of suffering and Siddhartha's search for the truth of existence. Silberberg's description of the Zen path demonstrates more rigor than gentleness, reflecting a “warrior” approach to the search for knowledge that isn't present in all forms of this Eastern philosophy; indeed, a little more clarification about which approaches are specifically Zen among the range of Buddhist practices would have been helpful for the novice. While the Alice analogies are thin, Silberberg's clear writing and in-depth knowledge of his subject make this addition to the “Zen of” genre engaging. (Oct. 1)
Library Journal
In his first book, Silberberg, a Zen teacher and practicing psychologist and counselor, gives a good, brief introduction to Zen practice by drawing on ideas he finds in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. For example, he finds something koanlike in pieces of the narrative that shake up our ways of thinking and foster new insights. To make religion or philosophy more relevant, practitioners have written many works associating philosophy or religion with popular culture, e.g., Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, Open Court's "Popular Culture & Philosophy" series, and the University Press of Kentucky's "Philosophy of Culture" titles. Silberberg writes clearly and with humor and intelligence, but he has a tendency to exhibit a smug certitude that some readers may find irritating. Small criticisms aside, Silberberg puts forth many valuable ideas. VERDICT Readers with some general acquaintance with Zen or other spiritual practices will find this an accessible introduction, but the lack of information on basics like sitting posture, breathing, and receptivity may puzzle those with no prior knowledge.—James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, VA
From the Publisher
"This is a fresh, heartfelt, book that is down to earth, often funny and insightful. What makes this book unique is that it is the result of Doen Sensei's long dedicated practice and creative ability. It pleases me to see him exploring what a true, contemporary Zen can be, as well as, remaining true to the fundamentals and essence of the teaching. I highly recommend it.
— Dennis Genpo Roshi Merzel author of Big Mind - Big Heart: Finding Your Way

"Doen Silberberg collaborates with Lewis Carroll, producing a very readable and personal account of the spiritual journey. Wonderland is a valuable place to enter the Buddhist teachings."
— John Daido Loori, author of Heart of Being

"Like Baba Ram Dass and the late Carlos Castaneda, Daniel Doen Silberberg Sensei has the ability to present the eternal journey of self-discovery in a way that's entertaining, personal, and deeply insightful."
— Jeremy Silman - International Chess Master, author of 38 books including How to Reassess Your Chess and Zen and the Art of Casino Gaming

Product Details

Parallax Press
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Penguin Random House Publisher Services
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215 KB

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Meet the Author

Daniel Doen Silberberg is a Zen Teacher and founding director of the ‘Lost Coin Sangha’ in the ‘White Plum Lineage’ that descends from both the Rinzai and Soto schools.

Born in Bad Hartzburg, Germany, in 1947 his parents moved to New York City when he was four. Mr. Silberberg began formal Zen practice under Abbot Maezumi Roshi and resident teacher, Daido Roshi, at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York. He draws on a rich and varied background. He received a B.A. in English literature, with an emphasis in Eastern literature, and has a Masters and Ph. D. in psychology. Prior to receiving dharma teacher transmission from Genpo Dennis Merzel in 2003 he had a successful career as a musician and has spent 25 years as a psychotherapist and as a coach and consultant in New York and Salt Lake City.

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