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A Glimpse of Nothingness: Experiences in an American Zen Community
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A Glimpse of Nothingness: Experiences in an American Zen Community

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  258 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The description of a Zen path of one Westerner who began by seeking for the sense of it all, and who came to realize at least a part of it.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1974)
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Jan 29, 2015 ania rated it it was amazing
"The old teacher had told me about the man under the apple tree. First he grabbed at the apples and every now and then he would get one, but they were small and they were crushed in his hand. Then he changed his attitude. He just stood under the tree and stopped jumping. He merely held up his hands and when the apples were ripe they fell into his hands, and there were so many apples that he didn't know what to do with them and gave them away. 'So I must wait,' I thought, 'like I am waiting here ...more
Jan 01, 2017 Frank rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Too nihilistic. He asks himself questions, such as "have I learned anything in my pursuit of Buddhism?", and his responses are nihilistic. He goes over those questions too many times in the book.

I hate his answers. He could have described the other disciples with more depth. The people he meets at the monastery are given only superficial background stories and character descriptions.
In Het dagende niets beschrijft Janwillem van de Wetering hoe hij argwanend werd toen zijn boekhandelaar in Rotterdam hem zei dat niets toevallig gebeurt.
"U bent toch geen spiritist he?" had ik argwanend gevraagd.
Mijn vraag deed hem droog krakend lachen.
"Nee" zei hij, toen hij uitgelachen was. "Maar niets gebeurt toevallig. Als je een boek meeneemt komt dat omdat je er iets van jezelf in vindt. In dat boek staat iets dat je zelf bent. Dat wil je bevestigen."

Hoe of waar ik hoorde van Janwille
William Burr
Jan 27, 2015 William Burr rated it it was amazing
I had another book on the go that I was having trouble getting through when I had a moment of despair and decided to pick this one up, having a feeling that it would be more appealing, since I really enjoyed the first book in the series, An Empty Mirror. I was right - I breezed through this one in a week. Not sure how van de Wetering makes the most mundane aspects of life interesting. In this book, he visits an American Zen retreat centre, with a rather authoritarian master.

It's interesting to s
Jul 04, 2014 Femmesquara rated it liked it
a cute and light foray into an American Zen Buddhist monastery through the eyes of a Dutchman. enjoyed all the little buddhist asides about the Buddha Nature, knowing nothing, being nothing. Some notable quotes " Real wisdom can never be expressed in words", "man is a collection of ever-changing properties, housed in an ever-changing body", "buddhism is negative. it tells you only what it is not. it is only specific about its methods. it suggests taht you should create your own situations, rathe ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Eric added it
Shelves: zen
I think I tend to like this sort of first-person stuff (eg. Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity). Makes for good light reading, no pressure. Was also interesting to see a bit of life on the Rinzai end of the spectrum.

Gotta say, the book overall had a weirdly gloomy and lonely feel… The atmosphere reminded me of that Philip K. Dick novel with that slightly-broken kid on Mars that could see everybody through time. So pretty traumatising for him because every time
Apr 07, 2010 Libby rated it it was amazing
There are those people out there who say they are Buddhist, who do yoga and vegan diets and oppose wars and meditate occasionally. The latest "trend" is mindfulness, how you can practice five min a day and everything is clearer, one step closer to Nirvana.

Which is why I love books like this. According to this book, if you label yourself a Buddhist, you're not there yet.

Great nonfiction telling of the author's experience in deepening his understanding of beliefs. It is in fact a glimpse into anot
Jun 04, 2008 Justin added it
I'm reading this because a friend gave it to me for my birthday. It was very nice of him, although his insights are more interesting than some of those in the book. I am on day five of a juice cleanse right now. It feels hard, but not as hard as the form of Zen described in the book. I am enjoying it because I have a little experience with Zen and because it is a story. There are better stories and better books about Zen. But that's not a reason to put it down.


Done now. No need to fall into
Jun 18, 2011 Vi rated it really liked it
Shelves: zen-buddhism
Jan van de Wetering continues his exploration of Zen Buddhism. Some ten years ago, he had spent time in a Japanese Zen monastery and studied with a Master. While there for a year and a half, he was given a koan, a riddle of sorts, to solve and left before reaching any enlightenment. The koan did not lay dormant and through chance encounters, Jan finds himself staying in the United States at a newly established Zen community of one of the disciples of his previous Master.

Brisk and amusing read.
Jan 10, 2012 Lynne-marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot about Zen Buddhism, but find it hard to write about what I've read. This book is honest, straight-forward and not about philosophy, but a day-by-day description of life in an American Zen commarde as the surrounding Americans call it. I found it enlightening with a small "e". I would recommend it to someone getting their feet wet in the concepts of Zen.
Sep 09, 2007 Fred rated it really liked it
i found this book entertaining and helpful. and as someone who sits (meditates) in a zen-esque manner every day it's a rare zen-related book that strikes me as both.
Jan 06, 2015 Meredith rated it really liked it
I had forgotten what a wonderful writer van Wetering was. Great book-- highly recommended for those at least somewhat familiar with zen.
Feb 03, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
This one takes us to where Jan leaves off after The Empty Mirror. It was interesting to hear how he had matured.
Jan 08, 2008 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: eastern-religion
I came to this after reading the Amsterdam mysteries, and the first book The Empty Mirror. This is zen with self-deprecation. That helps.
Mar 06, 2007 Davin rated it really liked it
Shelves: zen
Like the title says, in this second book of the author's Zen experience he starts to get somewhere. Inspiring.
Jan 05, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Fred lent this to me, and it was a pretty fascinating look at quasi-monastic Zen training in the U.S. Not fluffy or overly hardcore, and the author makes no attempt to look good for his closeup.
Dec 06, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
What I wrote right after I read it: An extremely good writer combined with a very interesting topic left me wanting to know more.
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