Zen Rohatsu Review

Barbara Bamberger Scott reviews Zen Rohatsu

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 This current work is diligently researched, combining historical reference with tender, personal touches to provide outreach to those new to the subject matter.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.

This review originally appeared here: https://featheredquill.com/zen-rohatsu/

Zen Rohatsu Review

Michael Froilan reviews Zen Rohatsu…

Buddhism is one of the world’s most intriguing religions and has carried a compelling aura around it for years. Although technically not a religion, it has influenced millions of people to practice its sacred philosophies with devotion. Zen Rohatsu is a far-ranging book that primarily summarizes the Buddhist holiday globally celebrated on the Gregorian calendar’s eighth day of the twelfth month, which is believed to be the day Guatama Buddha achieved enlightenment while meditating under a banyan fig tree. Written by author Nora D’Ecclesis, this compact book contains a substantial amount of unique teachings, history, and traditions regarding Buddhism, not to mention a vast background on Zen which “is just one branch of the Buddhist tree.” 

I treasure this masterpiece. The well-thought words and information Nora D’Ecclesis writes encouraged introspection and inspired me to take my spiritual practices more seriously. It’s interesting to ponder just how much Buddhism has positively impacted many people’s lives on a universal scale. D’Ecclesis does a remarkable job accentuating this truth. For instance, she mentions King Ashoka, who renounced warfare and devoutly committed himself to spread Buddhism worldwide. I also enjoyed learning more about other historic spiritual giants, especially the stories of Siddhartha Gautama’s life, which D’Ecclesis tells poetically. Most people tend to overlook that it took Buddha six years to reach enlightenment, and there were many enlightened ones before him. Living in a fast-paced world, we want our desires to quickly manifest so that we tend to forget to cherish and be mindful of every fleeting moment. Zen Rohatsu was refreshing to read because it made me realize that nothing worthwhile comes from forcing anything. Praiseworthy, formidable, and exceptional, this is a monumental book from which I sincerely believe all strata of society can benefit.