success stories

Posted June 1, 2003

Book: Zen Contemplation for Christians
Author: Sr. Elaine Macinnes
Sheed & Ward, Lanham, Chicago, New York, Oxford, pp. 229

Excerpt from Jacket:

How and why did a Catholic nun become an accomplished Zen Master? In Zen Contemplation for Christians, Sister Elaine MacInnes shares her story and invites us into the compelling and exotic world of Buddist spiritual practice. As she details her lifelong journey of learning from Zen meditative rituals, Sister MacIness explains how they continue to enrich and inform her experience of Christianity. Replete with the profound insight and knowledge of a seasoned spiritual teacher and guide, this autobiography is also a practical guidebook for those who, like Sr. MacIness, want to discover how Zen can be a complementary and rewarding part of Christian life.

Excerpt from Book:

Does Zen practice incline a practitioner to music of a certain kind or era? I don’t think so. Zen doesn’t try to make us into some special kind of person. Zen makes us free. Zen would have us not practice in order to build up a great program either of design or action. Yamada Roshi used to remind the aikido students who came to sit at our dojo that Zen would help them in their practice, that their art is a disciple of Zen and not the other way around. Even in argument or teaching, Zen tells us to be stripped of all concepts. In his teaching of the Hensho Goi No. 3 from the last book of koan studies, Yamada Roshi translates the meaning of Tozan’s verse as, “if concepts have been extinguished completely, then you may say anything as freely as you will . . .even for example, if it is so subtle as to be beyond expression, beyond saying, beyond putting into words. . .speak out! And if concepts have been extinguished, your words will surpass the eloquence of the most eloquent of worldly men.” Luke (21:14) tells us that Christ had somewhat the same concern: “Don’t be concerned about what you are going to say, for I will give you the right words and such logic that none of your opponents will be able to reply.”

Table of Contents:

Preface by William Johnston, S.J.

1. A circle is God’s Be-ing
2. Before the earth came into being
3. Becoming free in body
4. Becoming free through self-knowledge
5. Connections and reciprocity
6. From intellect to breath
7. The shared sacred
8. Swords into ploughshares
9. Within the esoteric
10. Pieces of a mosaic

Glossary of Japanese and Sanskirt words used
Books consulted
Biographical Note
Sister Elaine MacInne’s Zen Name