Finding the Zen

This is my 200th post. I started this blog, as many of you know, just for myself. I am a former journalist who wanted a chance to write again, and to share my love of books and food.
It's interesting how often I hear fellow bloggers say that they find their blogs to be stressful at times. I thought that was a strange statement – until I found myself stressed out by my blog.
As I said, I started this blog for myself. I didn't really talk about it (I still don't) and I certainly haven't done any advertising or promotion for it. But yet the audience grew, I mean really grew. I'm still startled when someone tells me that they enjoyed a particular post, or that they subscribe to my blog.
Once I saw the stats on the blog, I started to think about the people who were reading it, and I freaked out if I couldn't post as often as I like, or I would second-guess what I was going to write. Recently, I had to snap myself out of it, to remind myself that I started out writing for the enjoyment of it, not so I could grow a huge audience. And I assume that if you are reading this, you just enjoy books as much as I do and will forgive me if occasionally my real life gets in the way of my reading life. Because, well, that's just life.
I found the Zen again in my blog. The whole reason I started in the first place. So for my 200th post, I'm going to review a book that truly is about rediscovering Zen.

Review: Buddhaland Brooklyn

by Richard C. Morais
Seido Oda is only 11 when his father tells him that he will join a nearby Buddhist monastery on Mount Nagata in Japan. Being pushed from his tight-knit family of innkeepers into a quiet introspective life is a shock to Oda's system. Soon after, his family perishes in a fire, leaving the young Oda shaken and in turmoil. The monks slowly help him heal, and Oda is soothed by the surrounding rivers and mountains. But a rift remains inside Oda. As he says, "I made the conscious and forceful decision...never to cry again. I determinedly locked the tragedy of my family away in the deepest chamber I could find, as if it all had happened to a different person in a different world."
But, as we know, those buried secrets have a way of finding their way to the surface.
Thirty years later, Oda is a high-ranking monk with a severe way of looking at the rites and practices of his faith. His superior asks him to leave his quiet life and go to faraway Brooklyn, to help a group of Buddhists open a new temple. Despite his reservations, Oda agrees to go.
In Brooklyn, he finds a group of disparate personalities who are practicing their faith in sometimes strange and misguided ways. Oda decides it is his job to snap them all into shape, to follow his idea of Buddhism to the letter.
His reserved attitude and his strict approach to faith are tested again and again, and when he is faced with another tragedy, Oda realizes that his strictness has really barred his own way to true enlightenment all along.
Told with humor and empathy, Buddhaland Brooklyn shows us all that there are many paths to finding one's Zen, and that it can be right in front of us all along.
This is the second book I've read by Morais. His first, The Hundred-Foot Journey, is completely different and equally as good.

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