No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong
As you can tell from the shape the book is in, I’ve been carrying it around for a while. It’s not one I could just read all at once (and I’ve been known for reading 4 or 5 books at a time). Having no experience with Zen or Buddhism, this was a great first look into the practice, history, and thinking. As Kwong was introducing words and concepts he would include definitions and examples to ease you into understanding. He gives a fantastic narrative on how Zen came to be and how Zen has morphed through the introduction into the Western region of the world.
There were several parts of the book that gave me a new perspective on how I view myself, my thoughts, and life. Highlighting many powerful quotes throughout so I might come back to them later when I am needing some inner peace, particularly the parts on quieting your mind and allowing yourself to notice your feelings, breathing them in and then letting them go. Other parts that were relevant as I was reading were the sections on viewing loss, how it is natural and inevitable. Being able to consider hardships as fundamental to life and ultimately necessary for happiness (without hard times you cannot recognize good times).
The end of the book was the most difficult for me to bring into my own thinking. I believe (maybe wrongly) that Kwong was tying it all together and leveling up to possibly the entire purpose of Zen practice. Unfortunately, it seemed very far away from something I could work with in my own experience at this time. Perhaps in the future, once I’ve worked through some of the lower level ways of Zen, I will be ready for the end of the book. This is one I’ll keep on the shelf to look at again!
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