One of the many marvels of the contemporary spiritual renaissance is that such a large number of people from one tradition are discovering abundant treasures in another. Ancient texts are being rediscovered, and people are communing across the centuries. This phenomenon comes vividly alive in Zen Traces by Ken Kraft. He is professor emeritus of religious studies at Lehigh University and a scholar of Japanese Zen and socially engaged Buddhism.

In 1999, we discovered Kraft's book The Wheel of Engaged Buddhism where he mapped out a path of Buddhism in ten parts. "Spiritual practice," he noted, "has to be flexible, diverse, and inventive." He has kept his creative and spiritual flair alive with this paperback. Here koans and capping phrases of Zen masters are used to enlighten. Best of all, Kraft rubs together these pithy thoughts and phrases from traditional and present-day Zen with the sayings of Henry-David Thoreau and Mark Twain to come up with fresh portals of spiritual openness.

Here is an example:

"If you study with a teacher for a long time, with both of you earnestly serving the dharma, wonderful things can happen. Positions can change, and suddenly one day the teacher is the student and the student is the teacher."
-- Pat Enkyo O'Hara

"As long as was I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog."
-- Mark Twain

Here are some more of Twain's spiritual surprises:

"Very few things happen at the right time,
and the rest do not happen at all."

"We recognize that there are no trivial
occurrences in life if we get the right focus
on them."

"Change is the handmaiden Nature requires
to do her miracles with.