|Basic InformationLatest NewsLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Body Brain Balance8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaBreathingBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChakra MeditationsChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsHandbook of MindfulnessHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?I Contain MultitudesI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1NeuroLogicNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Good LifeThe Happiness of PursuitThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Turkish CookingViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by Terrance Keenan
Wisdom Publications, 2014
Review by Finn Janning, Ph.D. on Mar 10th 2015
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze once wrote that, "Writing is a question of becoming, always incomplete, always in the midst of being formed." The artist, writer and Buddhist monk, Terrance Keenan exemplifies such style of writing in his beautiful Zen Encounters with Loneliness.
The book was previously published as St. Nadie in Winter: Zen Encounters with Loneliness in 2001. Now, it is available again. The only difference, except for the shorter title, is an "Afterword." Actually, the "Afterword" is the only part of the text where the writing is not a question of becoming. It is written with less necessity, in a different tone, and, most importantly, here "time passes", whereas in the rest of the text is "being-time", the time that "never arrives, never leaves."
The book is a mixture of personal essay and memoir that are tied together with poems. The poetry can be read as a concentration of the essays. This experimenting style suits the book very well. As Keenan writes, "The language of poetry, the act of poetry, is maddening and wonderful." Experiencing a life in the midst of its formation is, after all, uncertain.
In brief it is a story of a man trying to "understand this no one within." The author is torn between on the one side being alone and feeling guilty for his many years of alcoholism, but on the other side he is also being confronted with love, kindness, and generosity. Gradually, he experience that he is not alone. "No one is alone," it says.
Zen Encounters with Loneliness can be read as a practical unfolding of Buddhist thoughts, but I read it mere as a book of ethics. It describes a form of life that is exploring the borders of what is, and what is not. "I am tongue-tied when I confront what is, as it is, with no meas a referent." It describes how the author realized that he becomes without boundaries. And here he experiences, "without fear I am no one." Being no one is not the same as being alone. On the contrary, being no one is to experience or sense a totality or wholeness. One is no one since one is always another.
Keenan tells many didactic stories, for example, one about his son who suddenly saw himself as "something else", becoming with the world, the son realized "he was the waves, he was the lake, the wilderness, the universe." The stories illustrate how his openness help him notice kindness and forgiveness, when it appears. He acknowledges the teachers who have guided him. He makes several literary references that illuminate the path that he has been creating while walking. However, most of the time he converses with Buddhism, he uses Buddhist concepts, but in a way – regardless of one's faith – that leaves one touched. At no point does the author speak down (or up) to his readers. "To enter the way of the Dharma is to enter a territory without maps," it says. "The Dharma, the all-inclusive truth beyond dualities of real and unreal, without beginning or end, is not sequential."
Zen Encounters with Loneliness is a way of being in the world. For this reason, it should not be read as a normative map for others to follow. Rather, it is an example that might convince, stimulate, inspire, provoke and, perhaps, even help people with their own struggles in life. Whether one is struggling with addiction, or, what is far more common I assume, how to keep a healthy balance between one's life and work. It is also a story about a man who "felt the need to accomplish what was necessary – job, duties, commitments to family – before I took the privileged time away to write." The work of life and the work of art do not have to exclude one another.
An ongoing theme is how one can take responsibility. Keenan writes, "Taking responsibility empowers us to accept we cannot know everything." Still, one has an "infinite responsibility toward all that is in the future." Being open is risky. A responsibility towards what is in the midst of becoming. It requires trust towards what actually happens. "To be free you have to take responsibility for everything, no exceptions." Everything! Think of a terrorist. Keenan says that freedom is not to be carefree. Rather, freedom is taking care since everything is connected. The awful lack of respect of life that terrorism exhibits is, therefore, everyone's responsibility. To lower the scale, when dealing with someone's addiction, we cannot and should not ignore it. "We are each thing always, all the time." No one is to blame. The universe is not a burden, because a burden only separates one from something else. Everything is connected.
For some it may sound like a feel-good philosophy, but then their hearing needs to be checked. It is hard work, as Zen Encounter with Loneliness witnesses. It is difficult not to blame. It is difficult not to ignore. For many years, a dear friend of mine has been an alcoholic. First, I was ignoring it, being too polite to confront him with it. Then, once I did, he was either too drunk to take it in, or too drunk to remember afterwards. Last, when he finally could take it, because he stopped drinking heavily, he himself was ignoring it. One of the problems is that most of us want to be normal, but "normal is the root of all war." Norms are fiction. Instead, trust, openness, care and no blame are the real challenges. Life is what we have to share.
Keenan summarizes, "it is not what happens to you, but how you carry it into life each day, moment by moment … Awareness is helping each of us sense what we need to know; that perhaps it is not death we fear, but rather not living."
Zen Encounters with Loneliness tells the story about how one man, for years, has tried to become worthy of what has happened and happens.
St. Nadie in the previous title referred to the Spanish word nadie that means "no one". Zen Encounter with Loneliness is, however, for everyone. Not only students of psychology and philosophy will find many examples to converse with, but also any reader who care about life. The reading is light, while the thoughts are deep. It is one of these rare books that even when it speaks about the most personal and intimate, it still speaks with a voice from nowhere. This is one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time.
© 2015 Finn Janning
Finn Janning, Ph.D. in philosophy, is a writer