This provocative guide offers bite-size wisdom from East and West, from such intuitive Zen masters as Henry Miller, Albert Einstein, Yogi Berra, Woody Allen, and Joan Didion. It conveys the essence of Zen with an eclectic mix of pithy ponderings on life, death, art, nature, reality, time, and nothingness. Witty and wise, airy and deep, Zen to Go is open to all (lotus position optional). Or in the ultimate act of Zen, it can be ignored altogether. As Gertrude Stein said, "There ain’t no answer. There ain’t never going to be any answer. There has never been an answer. That’s the answer."
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About the Author
Jon Winokur is the author of two dozen books, most recently The Garner Files: A Memoir, with James Garner.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book! Here's a review I wrote in 1996 for a now-defunct newsletter.FLBs: Something to Chew OnFunny little books (FLBs) of one sort or another have been around for some time. Captivated by Charles Schultz¿s Happiness Is a Warm Puppy back in the sixties, the public has devoured a steady stream of impulse-counter miniatures, from cute sentiments and pocket wisdom to humor and satire. Regardless of the specific subject matter or theme, the marketplace appears to have a big appetite for attractively packaged tidbits that nearly anybody can read all the way through. The recipe seems simple: just gather a few witty brevities that appeal to some personal or professional interest, add a liberal helping of charming graphics (optional), and publish. Voilà: an FLB.In general, I haven¿t been much of a consumer of FLBs, with or without clever illustrations. I like big books, the thicker the better, and I prefer to distill their essences myself, without the aid of a cartoonist¿s interpretations. So I¿ve resisted tiny volumes about cats and angels, palm-sized anthologies of political one-liners and snappy comebacks, and even comical instances of fractured English from around the world.But I suppose it was just a matter of time until I happened onto an FLB that suited my own taste. The subject matter was Zen, and I didn¿t even know I was interested in it until after I¿d read this FLB, which must have turned up at just the right moment in some internal process of which I was completely unaware. Zen lends itself especially well to the FLB treatment because so many Zenlike things can be said in brief, high-impact statements and so many Zen stories conclude with a punch line that invites illustration. So even though these books look funny, and probably are funny, and are certainly little, they are not the empty salt and sugar you find in most FLBs. There¿s plenty of meat in them. I was fooled the first time, to be sure, but not after that. I now have a small but substantial FLB section on my Zen bookshelf, and I regard it quite seriously. Even a nibble can take a long while to digest.The FLB that moved me from a spiritual window shopper to a Monday night regular at a zendo was Zen to Go, compiled and edited by Jon Winokur (Plume, 1990; $7.95). This modest-looking offering bills itself on the cover as ¿Bite-sized bits of wisdom from the East and West¿from the Buddha to Yogi Berra.¿ I bought it because it was displayed cover-out on the bookstore shelf and the whimsical picture of a pretzel in the shape of a yin-yang caught my eye. I thought it would be a lightweight, easily digestible Buddhist snack that would please my philosophical palate without demanding any investment¿not effort, not thought, scarcely even attention, and certainly nothing like commitment.That should give you a pretty good idea of how much I knew about Zen, which thrives on short, cryptic statements that can enthrall a mind for years. I¿d heard of ¿one hand clapping,¿ but, with my own education firmly rooted in the Western tradition, I never guessed that anything that nonsensical was serious business to anybody; I thought it was a parody of something.So, all unawares, I took the hook with the bait before I even realized I¿d swallowed anything. Not only had I become a consumer of FLBs after all but I had also had my first solid helping of Zen teachings¿and was about to become a guest at the banquet.I read the book through, made little of it, and read it through again, this time with a glimmer of sense here and there. The quotations, all short, are arranged under general topics (¿Action,¿ ¿Illusion,¿ ¿No-Mind¿) in a sequence that has a felt logic to it even if not a readily analyzed pattern. Interspersed among them are occasional brief explanatory passages and traditional Zen stories that add a dimension and a larger context to the quotations. I like the editor¿s introduction, which is one of the nicest short explana
Quotes about finding Zen in every-day life. Enjoyable enough, but not very deep.