4 out of 4 stars
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I was really captivated by the illustrations in Every Now and Zen: On the Nature of Being and Becoming. Ronald Steven Kaplan reveals his deeply philosophical and mystical insight/s through colorful photographs, brief quotations, and poems. The book offers many insights into the author’s experiences of the universe, but it also conveys “one” overarching insight into “one” experience of Ultimate Reality. I think it is similar to Advaita or non-dualism and other eastern philosophies like Zen in Buddhism.
The essence of this book is the outcome of around 45 years of Kaplan’s life experience. He narrates how he was inspired more than 40 years ago by the title of another book: Be Here Now by Ram Dass. Soon after he finished writing this book, he was fortunate to discover Dass’ manuscript in a bookshop. It seemed to have some connection with Kaplan’s own “spiritual emergence and inquiry as to the nature of being and consciousness.”
The book consists of three parts: “On the Nature of Being,” “On the Nature of Becoming,” and “On the Nature of Completion.” The poet expresses the beauty of his personal revelations with a remarkable play of words. “Once upon now… there was no-thing, no-where, now here.” He expresses the wonder of being as well as the workings of the mind and consciousness in a thought-provoking and humorous manner. He connects the Self with the innumerable selves, highlighting the paradox of wholeness and duality.
I appreciate the use of mandala (circular) designs which convey a depth of meaning. His explanation of the relationship between cause and effect is also interesting. I love the concluding part “On the Nature of Completion” which consists of original reflections and practical applications of the contents of this book to daily life. There is nothing that I disliked in his writings.
For all the reasons stated above, I am very happy to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It deserves nothing less. The notes are well edited, and I did not come across any grammatical errors. Although it is short and sweet (with only 129 pages), Every Now and Zen is very deep and enriching.
I wholeheartedly recommend it for philosophers, poets, and mystics. It will be easier to grasp if one has a background of metaphysics (philosophy of the nature of reality and being which includes ontology, cosmology, and epistemology) as well as phenomenology (the study of the structures of experience and consciousness). Those who are spiritually inclined or have a mystical orientation to life will also enjoy reading it. Kaplan wishes to offer “these nuggets of wisdom (or folly) as ‘Cosmic Breadcrumbs’ in the realization of the nature of being, and the desire of fully becoming the best version of yourself.”
Every Now and Zen
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