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Blowing ZenBlowing Zen : Finding an Authentic Life by Ray Brooks

How did an undisciplined child, an utter waster in his twenties who squandered the best part of his early life away in the pubs, wine bars, and nightclubs of London, find himself playing solo concerts in Japan on a Zen flute? This book began out of a response to that question. Blowing Zen is the story of the author's search for an authentic life. The path he follows leads to a wonderful spontaneity that fuses art, mind, body, and spirit. It was written in the hope that at least one person with thoughts of changing their life will be inspired into action.

"How does an electrical engineer from London find himself playing the flute on a hillside in Japan? Ray Brooks had had a piece of the good life, after all--high salary, late-night parties, fast cars. But in his late 20s, he did some soul searching, only to find that, spiritually speaking, the lights were on but no one was home. Some radical changes took him to Japan and a chance encounter with a master player of the shakuhachi, the Japanese vertical flute. He took it up and simultaneously absorbed the single-minded Zen discipline that seemed to imbue all facets of Japanese life. Brooks tells the story of his life in Japan, of his journey up the hill of gambatte (perseverance), and of his experiences in Japanese culture, such as his chat with a marathon monk and his not-quite-voluntary performance for members of the Japanese mafia. The title Blowing Zen refers to Zen monks who used flute playing as their meditative practice. One wishes more could have been made of this in Brook's memoir, of his own relationship to Zen and how exactly his life has become authentic. But perhaps this is too much to ask when the ineffability of music is coupled with the ineffability of Zen." --Brian Bruya

"A genuine spiritual journey, finding Zen, music, and one's own true self. A lovely spirit blows through this book" -- Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

"In sharing his quest,Ray has enriched my life, and may inspire many others on the path of music, the way of Zen." -- Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior 

"Not since Mickey Harts's Drumming At The Edge Of Magic has a book so beautifully and eloquently exemplified the connection between spirit and music. Blowing Zen is a must-read for any musician or artist needing to manifest that connection." -- Greg Ellis, co-founder of VAS

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Zen Web of Original Mind
Provides information on Zen and related topics. Find a local Zen center.


Offers a brief overview of Zen Buddhism as well as links to other sites on the subject.  


Zen is a religious sect of Buddhism, that teaches an approach to life, incorporating harmony between ultimate reality and the world of daily life, cultivating awareness of reality, and finding answers in this life and beyond. The Japanese history revealed this philosophy gained a vast popularity. Inevitably, this Zen teaching influenced a great deal on Japanese culture such as Ikebana, Tea Ceremony, and Zen Gardens...

This page has a collection of Zen koans, short stories often in the form of a dialogue between a student and a teacher that points toward some essence of the Zen spirit. Also available are links to other Zen related sites on the Web.  


If you've wandered here wanting to know what Zen is, then more than likely you will come away disappointed. This is a question that is easily asked but not easily answered. A Hindu story tells of a fish who asked of another fish: "I have always heard about the sea, but what is it? Where is it?" The other fish replied: "You live, move and have your being in the sea. The sea is within you and without you, and you are made of sea, and you will end in sea. The sea surrounds you as your own being." The only true answer is the one that you find for yourself.

The Zennist
The Zennist e-zine showcases answers to questions about mystical Zen Buddhism, an online chat, commentary, a mailing list and more.


Zen Stores to tell your Neighbors
This Web page is a collection of Zen stories and parables about enlightenment. Under each parable is a collection of people's reactions and thoughts.


Zen Tree
"Without speaking, without silence, how can you express the truth-" A collection of over 50 Zen stories or koans.


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