Zen and the Art of Anything

I don't know how to write about this book.


When I read Zen and the Art of Anything back in the spring.. back during a time when I was consuming everything I could get my hands on about Zen... I remember this one with particular fondness. How a certain phrase or a line would cause me to put the book down and laugh. Or just be quiet for a moment to take it in.

Zen is, as the author Hal W. French writes, 'nothing special'.

It is said that to even begin describing Zen is to have completely missed the point. Suffice it to say that the experience of Zen is alive in that moment between sensory input and intellectual interpretation ... the immediate awareness of 'what is' before our brains slap a meaning and a label on it.

French takes the reader on a journey through the basic functions of human experience ... breathing, speaking, sleeping, walking, eating, working, playing, loving... and enlivens them with a fresh awareness, reminding us of the vital importance of performing each of these acts with mindfulness and our whole being. Even the format in which French writes his words, which he describes here, add to the intention of bringing the reader's awareness to the present moment:

"The reader may appreciate a word about this book's format

I've often felt that reading can be a chore,

since our eye and minds don't readily adapt to the rigidities

of justified margins, which break up phrases and ideas,

forcing us to drop our eyes arbitrarily, awkwardly, to the next line.

The attempt here is to make those line jumps more natural, in structure and reason.

I hope this style may make your reading more pleasant,

and render Zen more accessible."

Enough said.