Seeing One Thing Through: The Zen Life and Teachings of Sojun Mel Weitsman

Counterpoint. Dec. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781640096196. pap. $17.95. REL
This introspective book offers deep insights into the spiritual journey of Weitsman (1929–2021), one of the 1960s pioneers of American Zen practice. The narrative begins in the sun-soaked landscapes of Southern California, where he came to spend his formative years. What sets this book apart is its dual narrative structure. The first part offers a personal memoir filled with memories and insights into Weitsman’s struggle with organized religion and his eventual embrace of Zen Buddhism. The second part presents edited versions of his dharmic talks, which encompass a wide range of topics, from the fundamentals of Zen practice and Buddhism to a practical approach to mindfulness. His background of growing up in poverty and eschewing college offers a fresh perspective on Zen practice, which was often associated with middle-class, educated individuals. He went on to establish the Berkeley Zen Center, which he portrays as a haven of simplicity, dedication, and faith.
VERDICT An interesting tribute to a man that shared the essence of Buddhist practice with others for more than five decades. Readers interested in Buddhist practice will find his writings and teachings approachable and inspiring.
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