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In This Very Moment

In This Very Moment

A Simple Guide to Zen Buddhism

The history, philosophy and practice of Zen for beginners

Author: James Ishmael Ford

Price: $10.00

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Zen master and ordained UU minister James Ford combines the history, philosophy and practice of Zen in this concise introduction. Previous titled This Very Moment, this revised edition features new material on the history of Zen Buddhism and its introduction in the West. From helpful discussion of the different schools of Buddhist thought to basic instruction for shikantaza (sitting Zen), Ford offers an accessible and engaging starting point for newcomers.

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Introduction

Dividing the World

Zen Comes West

The Teachings of the Buddha

Buddha Twirls a Flower

Getting Enlightened and Saving All Beings

Sitting Zen

Reconciling Heaven and Earth

Just What Is Nothing?

An Impossible Question

The Power of Words

Returning to the World

He sat in front of me, silently sobbing. We'd been sitting together, twenty or so of us, in a Zen retreat called sesshin-"to touch the heart/mind." And, now, four deep days into it, we all were touching that heart, that mind, which is the source of both our pain and our joy. I was a brand-new Zen teacher and the man sitting in front of me was an old friend. This was an important moment. In many ways we were learning together. At this instant my friend had moved from the facile brilliance that normally marked our conversations, to something ancient and animal. "James," he said. "I feel this terrible longing." He paused. "I feel parts of me are lost." He gasped and rubbed his eyes. "I have open sores where these parts are gone. Wounds. And I want to be healed." Again, a long silence passed before he whispered, "I feel my whole life has been lost, wandering aimlessly."

It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, and we'd already been sitting, meditating, for about seven hours. We were in the middle of the private interview called dokusan. Dokusan literally means "coming to the teacher." In the Zen traditions it is the time when a student brings her or his question to the teacher. At this moment in my life, after some thirty years of Zen training and hundreds of sesshin, years of sitting, and thousands of dokusan, now I found myself the teacher. At the beginning of that interview, my old friend and I were discussing what counts most. When we really pay attention to our lives, all our longing, all our hurt, all our hope is revealed. Nothing is hidden. In fact there are no secrets, no hidden truths. When we stop the grand rush of our lives, just for a moment, it is all revealed. It is not until we pay attention to this pain and longing within us that we can begin to walk an authentic spiritual path.

As we embark on the great way, we find ourselves confronted with suffering, both our own and that of those whom we love. When we confront this suffering honestly and humbly, it breaks our hearts. There is a profound sadness in our realizations as we examine ourselves and the world we live in. But there is also good news here. Discovering our brokenness, sometimes we find ourselves pulled further along in our quest for meaning and purpose. Certainly, this was the journey my friend now found himself on. And it is the journey I've been on. It is the way the Buddha himself walked so many years before. It is the great way of Zen.

"In refreshingly lucid prose, James Ford acts as a wise and friendly teacher of Zen Buddhist practice. Difficult concepts like 'presence' and 'nothingness' and 'enlightenment' begin to lose their esoteric quality and become ordinary and inviting."

—Marilyn Sewell, editor, Cries of the Spirit: An Anthology in Celebration of Women's Spirituality

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