ZEN CONFIDENTIAL: Confessions of a Wayward Monk by Shozan Jack Haubner
coming out from Shambhala Publications shortly
Note: Shozan is a pen name. I have not read this book, so am just sharing this info... please don't assume I necessarily agree with the author's point of view. It looks of interest so I bought an e-book version to check it out. Since Shozan is a pen name, I think the author changed all the names and locations, all identifying aspects. Maybe he felt he could be more direct that way.
From Shambhala Pubs:
These hilarious essays on life inside and outside a Zen monastery make up the spiritual memoir of Shozan Jack Haubner, a Zen monk who didn’t really start out to be one. Raised in a conservative Catholic family, Shozan went on to study philosophy (becoming de-Catholicized in the process) and to pursue a career as a screenwriter and stand-up comic in the clubs of L.A. How he went from life in the fast lane to life on the stationary meditation cushion is the subject of this laugh-out-loud funny account of his experiences. Whether he’s dealing with the pranks of a juvenile delinquent assistant in the monastery kitchen or defending himself against claims that he appeared in a porno movie under the name “Daniel Reed” (he didn’t, really) or being surprised in the midst of it all by the compassion he experiences in the presence of his teacher, Haubner’s voice is one you'll be compelled to listen to. Not only because it’s highly entertaining, but because of its remarkable insight into the human condition.
“The author’s search to ‘grow into a true human being’ is described with startling metaphors, acute insights, and humor. . . . Haubner’s unorthodox take on the spiritual search, marked by moments of grace, and his strength as an essayist will win over a specific audience willing to accept his dare.”—Publishers Weekly
“The best account I have ever read of the education of a Zen monk in America.”—Leonard Cohen
“This is the funniest, most genuine spiritual memoir I have ever read. It feels odd to call it a memoir, given how it is chock full of genuine Buddhist insight. A must-read, especially for those of us who have been accused of being in gay porn films.”—Lodro Rinzler, author of The Buddha Walks into a Bar…
“The best reason to read Zen Confidential is that it’s a lot of fun . . . no, wait, the best reason is that it’s all about how to have a life . . . wait, no, the best reason is that it’s a great ride. Zen Confidential has a virtue rare in spiritual books—it includes the whole of life. The only way out is through, and Jack Haubner takes it with gusto and style. Here we have sex, bathroom customs of the monastery, politics, suicide, drugs, meanness, marriage, standup comedy, Las Vegas, koans, and a 105-year-old Zen master. It’s a window into a magical world that pretends to be ordinary and an ordinary world that is magical. It’s deep, reflective, and boisterous at the same time. Haubner has an acute eye for the ridiculousness of the world and a larger-than-life way of seeing. It’s a fresh, living account of this kind of Zen in America and of living well and serving the way.”—John Tarrant
ESSAY from Tricycle Magazine: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO ENLIGHTENMENT
For the full essay: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/funny-thing-happened-way-enlightenment?page=0,2
Excerpt from the essay, which is an excerpt from the book:
"I’ve learned to question any Big Insight I have on the cushion if I become convinced of its wisdom only to the degree that I can convince others of it. This is the evangelical mind-set. If I’m already, seconds after having it, framing its future presentation as The Experience for friends and family, then I need to head back to the drawing board. Beware of putting things to words in your head that you haven’t fully experienced yet, reflecting on conclusions you have yet to truly reach. There’s a difference between an experience so deep and profound you can’t talk about it and an experience so deep and profound you can’t stop talking about it. The latter is usually accompanied by a semilobotomized grin and the need to hug others for about 35 seconds longer than the absolute outer limits of what they’re comfortable with even on their most touchy-feely days. Perhaps you’ve been the recipient of one of these New Age or born-again hugs. It ends with her extended, soft-focus study of your face as she slowly nods her head, her expression reading either “You too?” or “You will,” depending on how she gauges your spiritual progress. If religious fanaticism is one pole in our spiritually confused age, the “transcendent experience” fetishist is holding down the opposite: religious dilettantism. Oftentimes it’s hard to tell whether I’m faking my practice or just plain getting it wrong. With each new era of personal growth, I laugh at what once passed for insight. Present selves mock past selves, and future selves lie in wait. Meanwhile, the problem of “self ” itself goes ignored. “What was I thinking?!” I chuckle and head off on some new ridiculous tangent. Alas, I’ve spent much of my life trying to change who I am, such that who I am has in many ways become a person who tries to change himself. And how do I change that? My practice often feels like a head-on collision between the classical apophatic self-negation taught by the world’s greatest religious mystics from all traditions and the self-help of affirmative contemporary secular manuals like I’m OK—You’re OK. I want to negate myself, it seems—I just want to feel good about it."
Shozan Jack Haubner is the pen name of a Zen monk. Haubner is a humor writer and the winner of a 2012 Pushcart Prize. this article was excerpted from Zen Confidential by Shozan Jack Haubner