Wednesday, September 27, 2017

FIRST THE TAO, THEN ZEN, AND THEN A PARODY by Martin Shepard

My grandparents all came from Russia. Some had religious ties, others were atheists, but all were pacifists. When it came down to my father and mother’s affiliations and those of their generation, all were agnostic at best and none of their children (my cousins, or anyone in our extended family) had any religious education at all, for which I am eternally grateful, since it’s enabled me to avoid tribalism, be it nationalism, racial, or religious.

My favorite book is not fiction which we largely publish, Nor even memoirs It is Stephen Mitchell’s translation of  La-tzu’s the Tao Te Ching—81 short poetic statements about the Way things are. The front flap talks about at the basic predicament of being alive; about wisdom in action and imparts a balance and perspective that leads to a serene and generous spirit. I read it repeatedly in my 30’s and have gone back to again. 

It is the most widely read translated book in world literature after the Bible. Yet few of my friends and contemporaries have ever read it, But if there were one book I would recommend to one and all to read, it wouldn’t be a anything from one of the mega publishers or smaller ones like us, but this engrossing and timeless work.

So what spurred me to write this blog now? Coming across an article written 12 years ago called Zen Judaism. And it was funny. And we can all enjoy something that can foster laughter.

                                    *        *       *

ZEN JUDAISM

* If there is no self,

   whose arthritis is this? 

* Be here now. 

   Be someplace else later. 

   Is that so complicated? 

* Drink tea and nourish life. 

   With the first sip... joy. 

   With the second... satisfaction. 

   With the third, peace. 

   With the fourth, a danish. 

* Wherever you go, there you are. 

   Your luggage is another story. 

* Accept misfortune as a blessing. 

   Do not wish for perfect health 

   or a life without problems. 

   What would you talk about? 

* The journey of a thousand miles 

    begins with a single "oy." 

* There is no escaping karma. 

    In a previous life, you never called, 

    you never wrote, you never visited. 

    And whose fault was that? 

* Zen is not easy. 

   It takes effort to attain nothingness. 

   And then what do you have? 

   Bupkes.

* The Tao does not speak. 

   The Tao does not blame. 

   The Tao does not take sides. 

   The Tao demands nothing of others. 

   The Tao is not Jewish. 

* Breathe in. Breathe out. 

   Breathe in. Breathe out. 

   Forget this and attaining Enlightenment 

   will be the least of your problems. 

* Let your mind be as a floating cloud. 

   Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. 

   And sit up straight. You'll never meet the 

   Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

* Be patient and achieve all things. 

   Be impatient and achieve all things faster. 

* To Find the Buddha, look within. 

   Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. 

   Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.

   Each blossom has ten thousand petals. 

   You might want to see a specialist. 

* To practice Zen and the art of Jewish 

   motorcycle maintenance, do the following: 

   get rid of the motorcycle. 

   What were you thinking? 

* Be aware of your body. 

   Be aware of your perceptions. 

   Keep in mind that not every physical 

   sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness. 

* The Torah says,"Love thy neighbor as

   thyself." The Buddha says there is no "self." 

   So, maybe you are off the hook. 

* The Buddha taught that one should practice

   loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, 

   would it kill you to find a nice sentient being 

   who happens to be Jewish? 

* Though only your skin, sinews, and bones

   remain, though your blood and flesh 

   dry up and wither away, 

   yet shall you meditate and not stir until 

   you have attained full Enlightenment.  

   But, first, a little nosh.

                                     *        *       *

I encourage you to share this blog with others who may enjoy it. I particularly welcome your comments on this cockeyed pessimist site. You can also reach me by email (shepard@thepermanentpress.com), and follow The Permanent Press on Facebook and Twitter for updates on all our titles!  


Marty



3 comments:

  1. Love reading this again! Thanks Marty! I read the copy of the Tao you gave me! ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marty,

    I enjoyed Zen Judaism a lot. Thanks for sending it. I'm passing it on to my (Jewish) wife, who I think will love it, too.

    Best,
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  3. Marty: This is hilarious. And I've read The Tao many times over the decades.

    ReplyDelete