Zen and the brain

I picked up this book off someone’s bookshelf, thumbed through it, gave it the page 88 test, and decided it was interesting enough… and borrowed it. (It is vanishingly rare that I borrow books. I normally just buy my own and hand the potentially borrowed book back to its owner.) Over a year passed with the book untouched.

I picked it up again and spent an hour with it hopping around and again decided I did want to read it. So I bought my own copy and returned the loaner. Then one day I was preparing for some podcast conversation and (as I often do) I thought about what books I might have which are related… and, for the third time I landed in this book. I dove into the index, found something interesting related to the podcast conversation I was preparing for and got lost reading for an hour.

Okay, fine. Apparently, it’s important that I read this book. So the other day, I cracked it open at the very beginning. I find that while I often skip chapters in a book, it’s always useful to read the introduction, preface, foreword, etc. Below is the literal first paragraph in this book, which I’d not seen in my first three visits.

During rare, spontaneous moments, experiences of very special quality and great import emerge from the depths of the human brain. To each person, these awakenings seem awesomely new. What they convey is not. It is the simplest, oldest wisdom in the world. The message is that ultimate meaning is to be found in this present moment, infusing our everyday lives, here and now. But one can’t predict such major peaks of enlightenment. Their insight-wisdom is next to impossible to describe. Even so, these fragile events inspired our major religions in ways that still shape our cultural development.

~ James Austin from, https://www.librarything.com/work/65668

If you see the book, you’ll think it’s going to be some left-brain, hyper-analytical, what forest? …it’s just trees, sort of thing. At least, that’s what I thought, each of those first three times I visited. Turns out, it’s actually 850 pages of, “Woa! That’s interesting…”