Christian Dillo received Dharma transmission through Zentatsu Richard Baker Roshi in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Many readers will know Shunryu Suzuki as the author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, one of the most popular books of Zen spirituality ever published.
In this new work, we appreciate how Dillo combines everyday practicality with attentiveness to Zen texts and classic Zen and Qigong teachings. This book provides meaningful teachings for the newbie as well as the seasoned practitioner.
When talking about “liberation” from suffering, for instance, Dillo focuses on the positive more than the negative. Liberation is not only about what to avoid or prune from one’s life; liberation is also about “the path of nourishment.” How can we make our experiences more nourishing to our lives? Allow them to “complete themselves and develop into bodily expression,” he explains.
He points to the example of crying: “We generally don’t like to experience sadness or grief. We tend to resist not only the painful sensations that come with loss but also the bodily convulsions involved in crying. Have you noticed the difference between a way of crying that feels purifying and one that leaves you depleted and distressed? The difference lies in the willingness to let the painful sensations sequence through your body.” Dillo then offers further teachings from the Buddhist practitioner who taught him this way to cry.
At another point, Dillo identifies the Qigong teacher who taught him the Taoist system of exercises “designed to systematically transform body, energy flow, and mind.” Again, there is nothing gained that is not somehow embodied.
Dillo provides similar practical applications of ancient wisdom, rooted in text and tradition, on subjects including how to sit better in meditation (chapter 2), how mindfulness is intended to become “bodyfulness” (chapters 4 and 5), and how to relearn, in our age of too many easy distractions, the way of “undivided activity” (chapter 18). Perhaps most intriguing is chapter 16, “The Relinquishing of All Views,” pointing readers toward letting go of beliefs that may lead to suffering, either one’s own or the suffering of others.
Through these means and others Dillo offers what the title promises: the opening of a path of aliveness for people today, who might otherwise be “plagued by alienation, anxiety, and depression.”