Thank you for the Zen book by Lim which I finished reading yesterday. I was planning to mention it in the next NOWletter, somewhat on the lines of this letter, and will include your note. I think you know that Douglas Harding sub-titled his On Having No Headbook as Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious so I am very well disposed to anything about Zen.
I thought Lim Meng Sing’s book excellent for a number of reasons, it gets to the heart of the matter in every sense of that saying, by focusing on the experiencing, not just the saying. I liked the way he shows that Zen throws light on all spiritual and many philosophical approaches. I think he manages one of the most difficult angles in dealing with Western mindsets by helping us see that there is a positive aspect to ‘not knowing’. I once tried to introduce Zen to the men’s group I belong to and I found that the notion of not-knowing as a positive created the strongest resistance. I thought Peter Lim’s ‘Reflections’ were evidence of someone actualising as opposed to conceptualising Zen. He makes clear the relevance of Zen to our everyday living.
There are 150 of his ‘Reflections’ and I marked nineteen as ‘favourites’ with the intention of popping them into future editions of the NOWletter. (Acknowledged of course)
Reflection 146 was interesting to me for a different reason:
By the window, sitting
I listen to the sound
My earliest memory of my grandfather is an occasion when I must have been seven or so, we were in his ‘front room’ —reserved for special occasions. It looked out on a tiny garden and then onto the pavement and road. It was raining. He took me over to the window and said: “Look, Alan, what I like to do when its raining is to sit here and see the rain falling, water running down the window, running down the street”. Grandad was a devout Baptist and wouldn’t have thought of himself in Zen terms but I think we find Zen in the New Testament as in most traditions if we clear away the accretions.
Margot’s (my wife’s) favourite Haiku is:
And the grass grows by itself
This makes its appearance in this household whenever things are getting fraught.
Reflection 89 of Lim’s points to the ‘open window’ aspect, something I have been using myself as a way of expressing the being of it. It is fun to think of Traherne as a Zen master— wearing the robes of his time and place—as an Anglican divine.
So, thank you, Louise, I’d better get cracking on the next NOWletter as the December issue has now become January’s.
Alan (founder and editor)