Some Books on Enlightenment for the New Year
[Someone who found my work on Twitter and felt amazed by it e-mailed to ask me for my book recommendations. He said that he was new to Zen, started out by reading Alan Watts and then delved into the Upanishads. I wrote back the following short list of book recommendations, which I now want to share with readers of this blog:]
The Upanishads are totally wonderful. You don't even need to do Zen if you can delve deep into the Upanishads and practice some direct meditation to experience what they teach. In fact, since you've reminded me I'm going to write a blog entry about the Zen of the Upanishads.
As you know, the basic teaching of the Upanishads is that our Pure Consciousness is the absolute reality. Everything appears in and by it. Various appearances in life come and go, but Pure Consciousness always remains perfectly still and lucid.
I like Nisargadatta, an "Advaita-Vedanta" teacher. There are plenty of compilations of his talks. He is very direct and simple. His language is right out of the Upanishads. He is also very Zen in that he tells people to conduct direct self inquiry until you realize it for yourself.
For Ch'an/Zen, it might be interesting for you to read some translation of the startling sayings and doings of the Chinese Masters. For my money the books by Charles Luk are the best.
I also like Wei Wu Wei, the pen name of an eccentric man named Terence Gray, who wrote about Zen and Vedanta. He apparently had satori one night looking at the starry sky and he devoted his life to trying to boil these matters down to their most direct and simple form. This is a good site.
Then there is a Rinzai Zen master named Zenkei Shibayama who wrote a very intense series of comments on the Chinese Wu-men-kuan.
I will send you more book recommendations if I think of them. Thanks.
Enjoy, and a Happy New Year, and many regards to you!