Upside-Down Zen: Finding the Marvelous in the Ordinary

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9780861712793: Upside-Down Zen: Finding the Marvelous in the Ordinary
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Writing and teaching in the same tradition as Robert Aitken (Taking the Path of Zen) and John Tarrant (Bring Me the Rhinoceros), Susan Murphy shares their warm and lyrical approach to Zen Buddhism.

Upside-Down Zen is Murphy's unique invitation to explore the vivid spirit of Zen. Concentrating her gaze on the particular-the lived moment-she delivers Zen's timeless wisdom in a voice that stimulates and sustains the interest of the contemporary reader. She illuminates Zen koans, the often misunderstood teaching stories of the tradition, by drawing on diverse sources such as literature, folk-tales, modern cinema, and Australian aboriginal spirituality.

Upside-Down Zen is an excellent, enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in meditation, self-knowledge, and the opening of insight and compassion in ordinary life.

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About the Author:

Susan Murphy is a Zen teacher in the lineage that comes through Robert Aitken and Ross Bolleter in the Diamond Sangha branch of the Harada-Yasutani line of Zen, and John Tarrant, who has established an independent Zen school, the Pacific Zen Institute. She regularly conducts sesshin (Zen retreats) with the Zen Open Circle (www.zenopencircle.org.au). She also travels to Melbourne and the US to teach. Susan is a writer and feature film director, with a special interest in place, dream, and the affinity of Dharma with aboriginal spirituality. She is a widely published author on subjects as varied as cinema and Zen. She lives in Sydney.

From Publishers Weekly:

Zen teacher Murphy does creative work as a film director and writer, and it shows. Her eye picks up details, stories and images in a rich, distinctive and demanding way: she describes abandoned urban lots as "richly art-directed by time" and cites Shakespeare, Dante, Buber and Raymond Carver in the span of five pages. Trying to imaginatively follow all this associative exposition, the reader may occasionally be left breathless or befuddled. Still, work on koans—Zen riddles that defy ordinary logic—is expected to stretch the mind. Murphy has a deep feel for subtlety and enigma that is different from many other Zen writers, who often draw from the well of ancient Chinese and Japanese Zen masters. Murphy cites them, too, but she also brings in elements from the aboriginal spirituality of Australia, her native country. The metaphor of dreaming has cosmological significance in this spiritual system, though Murphy's use of "dreaming" is sometimes obscure given her tendency to write via imaginative leaps. This is not a book for the nightstand Buddhist to knock off a short chapter before bedtime; it will make the most sense to those who have some experience on the twisting koan path. This is a dense, quirky and rewarding work. (Dec.)
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