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Zen Gifts To Christians
     

Zen Gifts To Christians

by Robert Kennedy
 

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Robert Kennedy is one of three Jesuits in the world who answer to both the titles "Father" and "Roshi," or venerable Zen teacher. In 1991, after ten years of practicing Zen meditation, he was installed as a Zen teacher at the recommendation of his teacher, Glassman Roshi, and of Glassman Roshi's teacher, Maezumi Roshi. Today, he directs a dozen groups of people

Overview

Robert Kennedy is one of three Jesuits in the world who answer to both the titles "Father" and "Roshi," or venerable Zen teacher. In 1991, after ten years of practicing Zen meditation, he was installed as a Zen teacher at the recommendation of his teacher, Glassman Roshi, and of Glassman Roshi's teacher, Maezumi Roshi. Today, he directs a dozen groups of people from many religious persuasions--even atheists and agnostics--who sit weekly in Zen meditation throughout the greater New York metropolitan area. This book is specifically addressed to the Christian practitioners of Zen meditation or those who are curious about it. It is structured around ten well-known ox-herding pictures that have been a consistent source of inspiration to Zen students for centuries.

Each picture represents a specific Zen insight to life, and these insights, says Kennedy, are not only fully compatible with Christianity but can help Christians achieve the spiritual goals enshrined in a Christian classic. For example, "The Cloud of Unknowing:" to be silent and attentive, to be wholly present to life, to be able to separate one's true self from one's false self, the self-seeking part of the personality that so often brings on pain.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kennedy is a Jesuit who teaches theology at St. Peter's College, a psychotherapist in private practice and a Zen teacher who believes that Zen Buddhism has much to complement Christianity. In this book--directed primarily toward Christians who already practice Zen or those who are curious about doing so--Kennedy draws on the symbolism of 10 12th-century Chinese depictions of ox herding to demonstrate the quest for one's true nature. (The ox represents a person's true self, while the ox herder is the one seeking that self; the 10 pictures symbolize 10 stages of spiritual growth.) Throughout, the book is a mishmash of East and West: interspersed with the pictures are Zen koans and poetry and prose from Western culture. While the illustrations and koans are interesting, something almost Zen-like has happened in the book--Kennedy's literary selections (from Denise Levertov, Mary Oliver and H.L. Mencken, to name a few) are so exquisite that they surpass the narrative rather than simply complementing and explaining the Buddhist teachings. Also, Kennedy sometimes has to perform difficult theological gymnastics to reconcile Buddhism to Christianity, as when he tries to align an Eastern understanding of humanity as divine with the Western Christian doctrine of humanity being created in the image of God. Despite these flaws, this book may appeal to those Christians whose temperament predisposes them toward the practice of Zen as they strive to grow in their spiritual lives. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Kennedy, a Jesuit and trained psychotherapist, has written a book that attempts to find new means of dialog between Zen Buddhists and Christians. The germ of the book is simple: Kennedy addresses in turn each of the famous "Oxherding pictures," an essential teaching tool in the Buddhist East and finds commonalities in Christian belief and culture. While Kennedy does not address his subjects with the depth one might hope for, and finding common points of interest from one faith to the other has a limited effect on true understanding and tolerance, Kennedy's chapters are capably written reflections on the shared issues of the two faiths. For larger collections, or where there is a strong interest in interfaith dialog. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826416544
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
10/01/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)

Meet the Author

Robert J. Kennedy teaches theology at St. Peter's College, is a psychotherapist in private practice, and conducts Zen retreats at various centers in the United States and Mexico. He is the author of Zen Spirit/Christian Spirit.

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