© 2000 Jean Smith
Not knowing what distinguishes Zen Buddhism from Buddhism as a whole, I decided to read this quite accessible little book about the basics. Author Jean Smith does this fairly well, I think. Although I would be made to claim a comprehensive knowledge of Buddhist beliefs and practices, I've never encountered anything in another book that was not at least mentioned here. Perhaps appropriately, she begins the book by concentrating on the practice of zazen, or Zen meditation. This is a particular form of meditation relying on particular sitting positions and techniques and must -- according to her -- become part of daily, or at least weekly. Illustrations are used effectively: what pictures that are here are used directly by the text, instead of functioning as "extras" that give the reader a rest from nonstop text. The first pictures used are of the author (I presume) demonstrating several appropriate sitting positions for zazen.