Roshi Susan’s Books
Roshi Susan Murphy’s unique lyrical approach to Zen takes up “all offers.” She draws from a diversity of spiritual traditions, from science, cinema, art, poetry, ecology and the wisdom of indigenous Australians to challenge us to “find the marvelous in the ordinary” and then to act to mend that marvelous world, now in crisis. And this is a message she is compelled to share.
“The crisis facing us all right now is a tremendous koan set for us by the earth, speaking to us plainly but in words we cannot yet fully comprehend, caught as we are in the frame of the past that cannot conceive of this emergency. To respond we need to free ourselves from a too narrow sense of self and an unquestioned assumption or self-entitled priority as a species.”
In this Zen response to the Planetary emergence brought on through the climate crisis, Roshi Susan offers a “medicine bundle” of stories to help us grasp a new story of self and a new story of earth.
“Zen is a direct path into reality, a direct path into the hard and exhilarating questions of being alive. The path of Zen is a mountain path. Walking it is like choosing to walk deeper, ever deeper, into mountains. When you climb a mountain it has the curious effect of disappearing under you and closing round you.”
In this broad introduction to Zen practice, Roshi Susan examines some of the upending and mixing up of a formerly Asian Zen as it takes root and grows more native to the West. She examines Zen’s relationship to environmental issues, the way of dream, creativity and imagination, resonances with Aboriginal spirituality and the challenges of maintaining a lay practice in a busy world.
The poet Muriel Rukeyser brought home the power of human myth-making by saying, ‘The world is made of stories, not atoms.’ Buddhist philosopher David Loy has glossed this to bring it further home: Not atoms? Of course it is made of atoms. That’s one of our important stories.’ So clearly, stories are not just stories, but ways we teach ourselves what is real, how things hold together and what is possible. Stories give us a world and a selfRoshi Susan Murphy