Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou’s Classic Zen Poem

Ben Connelly. Wisdom, $16.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-61429-121-3
Shitou’s “Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage” is not as well-known as his poem “Harmony of Difference and Sameness.” Connelly, a Soto Zen priest in Minnesota, turns his attention to the a deceptively simple 32-line poem, which depicts the quiet lifestyle and worldview of a person living in a grass hut. Connelly offers line-by-line meditations, extracting lessons on how to live simply, let go of habitual thoughts, and connect with the world as it is encountered. His analysis will speak to those familiar with Buddhist thought, but it also provides gentle guidance about accepting both oneself and one’s surroundings to the uninitiated. Above all, his wish for this book is that he “[hopes] it helps you to be kind”, reinforcing his emphasis on living the Buddhist path in all its difficulties rather than reading or thinking one’s way through it. Connelly’s reconsideration of a poem that still has much to teach the modern world is a welcome addition to the literature. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 07/08/2014
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