By: Nora D'Ecclesis
Published by: Renaissance Presentations, LLC
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: June 29, 2022
Noted non-fiction author Nora D’Ecclesis addresses the mystical yet pragmatic practices of Zen Buddhism from a wide array of historical perspectives in her newest book, Zen Rohatsu.
The author's opening chapter describes her personal experience of Rohatsu, a ritual of meditative zazen named for the timing of the ceremony which in modern times has evolved to fall on December 8th each year. “Rohatsu begins with the sound of an ancient gong” and is meant to duplicate the steps of the enlightenment of the Buddha. It includes classic seated meditation and much walking in circular paths indoors and out, all accomplished in total silence, giving each participant scope to experience mindfulness.
Zen is one aspect of Buddhism that has gradually developed over the centuries since the birth, life and passing of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha was the son of a Nepalese, Hindu king, heir to all the luxuries that station implies. But after he achieved manhood, he began to wish to see what lay beyond the walls of his father’s castle. Once he did so he saw things he had never before confronted – sickness, old age, and death. This led him on a path of asceticism and eventually to being revered as a spiritual teacher of the Eightfold Path, which D’Ecclesis presents along with other concepts for her readers. The art of Zen developed through the fabled teachings of Boddidharma, the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism, and through the conversion of Ashoka, a famed King of India. Jesuits and other mystic thinkers brought Zen to the Western world, along with the arts of the Japanese tea ceremony, the poetry known as haiku, and the modern concept of mindfulness.
D'Ecclesis concludes her enlivening look at Zen with detailed advice for meditation encompassing postures, breathing techniques and mala beads, offered for readers who want to inculcate this ritual into their lives as she has done. She was fortunate to have direct exposure to Zen in her college years, and has written best-selling, award-winning books embracing similar subject matter, including Multicultural Mindfulness: Nourishing the Soul and Haiku: Natures Meditation. This current work is diligently researched, combining historical reference with tender, personal touches to provide outreach to those new to the subject matter.
Quill says: In Zen Rohatsu, D’Ecclesis has created a straightforward guide to the concepts of Zen with the potential to attract fresh attention to this time-honored, proven means of mental and spiritual self-examination.