Zen Rohatsu

Non-Fiction - Spiritual/Supernatural
63 Pages
Reviewed on 08/03/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite

In her well-researched book Zen Rohatsu, author Nora D’Ecclesis uses the historical approach and develops a hermeneutic work on Zen Buddhism that's simple enough for a beginner but is also deep enough for the seasoned practitioner. It's based on important and significant figures, events, teachings, practices, traditions, and concepts that served as the foundation that built up the universe of Buddhism as it evolved and established itself as one of the world's largest religions and philosophical traditions. She begins by leading the reader through a guided visualization of Zen Meditation or Zazen, before providing background information on Rohatsu and explaining why it is observed on December 8th. She then discusses the founder, Gautama Buddha, and his extremely intriguing life. She also speaks of the most important and influential figures who followed him, how the religion diversified into various schools of thought after Buddha's passing, and the key elements of each branch. The book also has a chapter on Haiku poetry, which is a creative writing discipline that best represents Buddhism because of its ability to be poignant and to evoke a wide range of emotions and thoughts that can lead to a larger feeling or idea, despite the required brevity. The book's last chapters speak about mindfulness and spirituality, Zen Meditation practices, and a short discourse on her own religious experience and journey as a follower and practitioner of the Zazen.

Even though the book has a simple cover that depicts the austere beauty of a Zen Garden, its content and substance go way beyond being simply informative. Nora D’Ecclesis subtly touches on pertinent topics by using significant facts, dates and events, and observations. For example, by bringing up the point that the predecessor of Tibetan Buddhism was a woman, she ultimately tells us that enlightenment transcends gender. And with her eloquent discussion about the "Unborn Mind", she is able to clearly explain how our prejudices are a result of learned delusions that polluted our originally unbiased and unattached disposition at birth. Her historical approach helps the reader realize that teachings on compassion for animals have been in existence even before 227 BC. Without much use of high-sounding or flowery language, D’Ecclesis effectively explains Buddhism's profound and important principles and values. Her book addresses a belief system and a way of life that remains necessary and relevant. This book also serves as an exposition of timeless and adaptable universal truths that teach us to follow a trusted pathway to peace in the midst of a very chaotic and destructive modern-day rat race. Zen Rohatsu is brilliant and delightful and is definitely a treasure trove of useful facts and insights to learn from and reflect on. I'm quite grateful that I had the opportunity to read this amazing book. Highly recommended.

Michael Froilan

Buddhism is one of the world's most intriguing religions and has carried a compelling aura around it for years. Although technically not a religion, it has influenced millions of people to practice its sacred philosophies with devotion. Zen Rohatsu is a far-ranging book that primarily summarizes the Buddhist holiday globally celebrated on the Gregorian calendar's eighth day of the twelfth month, which is believed to be the day Guatama Buddha achieved enlightenment while meditating under a banyan fig tree. Written by author Nora D'Ecclesis, this compact book contains a substantial amount of unique teachings, history, and traditions regarding Buddhism, not to mention a vast background on Zen which "is just one branch of the Buddhist tree."

I treasure this masterpiece. The well-thought words and information Nora D'Ecclesis writes encouraged introspection and inspired me to take my spiritual practices more seriously. It's interesting to ponder just how much Buddhism has positively impacted many people's lives on a universal scale. D'Ecclesis does a remarkable job accentuating this truth. For instance, she mentions King Ashoka, who renounced warfare and devoutly committed himself to spread Buddhism worldwide. I also enjoyed learning more about other historic spiritual giants, especially the stories of Siddhartha Gautama's life, which D'Ecclesis tells poetically. Most people tend to overlook that it took Buddha six years to reach enlightenment, and there were many enlightened ones before him. Living in a fast-paced world, we want our desires to quickly manifest so that we tend to forget to cherish and be mindful of every fleeting moment. Zen Rohatsu was refreshing to read because it made me realize that nothing worthwhile comes from forcing anything. Praiseworthy, formidable, and exceptional, this is a monumental book from which I sincerely believe all strata of society can benefit.

Philip Van Heusen

If you are interested in learning about Zen Buddhism, this book is for you. Rohatsu commemorates the enlightenment of the Gautama Buddha. Buddha taught that one can avoid suffering by controlling their thoughts and desires. Zen opens a portal to view life in the present. It is a spiritual path. In Zen Rohatsu, Nora D’Ecclesis shares the history of Zen Buddhism and some of its more famous leaders. Buddha’s teachings deal with the Middle Path. Following Buddha teaches that materialism is not what gives life meaning. I found it very interesting that this book contained information about Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier and their spiritual transformation. The Jesuits adopted much of Buddhism and took it to the rest of the world. The monk, Bodhidharma, is known as The Father of Zen.

The central teachings of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths that Buddha found while he sought enlightenment. These are followed by the Eightfold Path. Both concepts are discussed and explained in Zen Rohatsu by Nora D’Ecclesis. The Four Noble Truths are as follows: 1) life means suffering, 2) the origin of suffering is attachment and desire, 3) the cessation of suffering is attainable, and 4) there is a path to the cessation of suffering. To reach the cessation of suffering, one must follow the Eightfold Path until one achieves the Middle Path. Buddhism also elevated women to an equal footing with men in meditation. While there is a physical distinction between men and women, according to Bankei, the Buddha Mind makes no distinction. Nora also writes about the connection between Buddhism, the Tea Ceremony, and Haiku. This book covers the basics of Buddhism.

Pikasho Deka

With the rising influence of social media and the advent of a major global pandemic, there has been a drastic increase in anxiety, stress, and other mental health disorders among the general populace. One of the most proven and effective ways to combat stress and negate those harmful disorders is through meditation. Zen Rohatsu by Nora D'Ecclesis is a thorough study of meditation and other Zen practices to help readers develop their understanding and knowledge of a sect of Buddhism that can guide them on the path to enlightenment. In this book, D'Ecclesis discusses the origins and spread of Zen Buddhism and its practice throughout the world and how it became a source of comfort to people seeking peace and fulfillment.

Japanese Zen Buddhists commemorate the enlightenment of the historical Buddha with a celebration on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the Gregorian calendar. Nora D'Ecclesis gives an in-depth account of its origins, going back in history to retell the story of Gautama Buddha during his days in Bodh Gaya, India, and gives a detailed explanation of the Four Noble Truths and the Steps of the Eightfold Path. She also provides a short account of Bodhidharma, the patriarch, and Father of Zen. This short book is not only informative but also illuminating because it showcases the rich history and influence of Zen Buddhism, a practice that has given so many people clarity and meaning in their lives. I found Zen Rohatsu to be a fascinating read and highly recommend it.