I read a nice article about novelist and Zen priest Ruth Ozeki yesterday. The piece, written by Terrence Petty of the AP, gives us a glimpse into Ozeki’s life story, her introduction to Zen, and a short description of her last novel A Tale For The Time Being, which was a finalist in 2013 for the Man Booker Prize. The title of her book comes from an essay by Dogen on time titled Uji, often translated as “The Time-Being.”
I don’t know Ruth Ozeki, but I know a little about her. For instance, as Petty points out, her “spiritual companion is a Zen master named Dogen. Dead for nearly 800 years, when you listen to Ozeki, you know he’s there.”
Sorry to say that I have not heard her or read her novels . . . yet. I do plan to start learning more about Ruth Ozeki by further exploring her “Web World” at Ozekiland.
I am not a Zen Buddhist, but that doesn’t stop me from being a big fan of Dogen, too. Fan is not the right word, but you know what I mean.
I wrote about Dogen just the other day, and quite a few other times, as well. You can read those posts by clicking here or on the name Dogen in the tag cloud on the sidebar.
I have an old notebook full of random notes and copied quotes about Buddhism and meditation; it dates from 2001 and there is one note that I didn’t really get at the time I jotted it down, but in recent years has stirred my murky depths of my mind.
The notation is marked simply Bielefeldt –. I am sure it refers to Professor Carl Bielefeldt who “specializes in East Asian Buddhism, with particular emphasis on the intellectual history of the Zen tradition.” He’s also the author of Dogen’s Manuals of Zen Meditation. I don’t recall reading that book, and I don’t believe I have ever attended a lecture given by him, but maybe I have. Perhaps I read it in article or interview, or heard on the Internet or television. Could be just something I heard someone say. It doesn’t matter. The note says,
According to Dogen, the practice of Zazen [meditation] was not of an ordinary human trying to be a Buddha, but a Buddha expressing himself as an ordinary person.”
Think about it.