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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Sweeping Changes
Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks
Gary Thorp
Broadway Books 09/01 Hardcover $10.95
ISBN: 0-7679-0773-6


Gary Thorp began studying Zen in 1960 and was later lay-ordained in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. He is now a fulltime writer living with his wife in Marin County, California. Thorp points out that the word "routine" originally meant "a route or course of travel for trading" or "a religious pilgrimage" and has only recently come to mean "ordinary" or "of no special quality." The Zen master realizes that the routines of our everyday lives in our homes are the path of practice.

In chapters on the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, and outside surroundings, the author demonstrates the importance of our intimacy with things. Little duties and chores around the home bring us back to ourselves. Sweeping the floor, we concentrate completely on one task and are united with all others cleaning their places. Or as Thorp puts it, "When you bring energy and attention into each of your activities, you are no longer engaged merely in maintenance. You're involved in taking care of things."

Whether writing about cooking, water, dust, doors, or the dangers of rust and deterioration when objects are stored away, the author challenges us: "Try to be a good audience for whatever kind of experience reveals itself to you." This brief but enlightening book by Gary Thorp is a very fine example of everyday spirituality.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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