Healing our wounded Earth is not unrelated to healing our own personal wounds. The pains of the Earth and those of the individuals making up our Earth community cannot be separated. Thus the healing of our individual lives can become the basis of the healing of Earth. This book sheds light on Zen as a spiritual path that leads to healing - in the personal, social, and ecological dimensions of our being. If you are seeking a form of spiritual practice that addresses all three of these dimensions or simply seeking to deepen your understanding of the Zen path, it is written for you. If instead of fragmentation, disorientation, and vacuity, you seek wholeness, groundedness, and integrity in your life, it is written for you. Perhaps you, too, have come to realize that our global community is in a sad state of affairs, that we need to radically change how we live and relate to one another and to the Earth. You may already be engaged in some form of social or ecological action addressing these issues-and you may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. If you've been tempted to pessimism or have thrown up your hands in despair when your best efforts don't seem to make a dent, this book is for you, Healing Breath offers a way to integrate a spiritual path with active, socio-ecological engagement as the ground.
This book also addresses another set of questions: can a Christian genuinely practice Zen? How is Zen practice compatible with a Christian faith commitment? To fully engage in a Zen practice, what kind of belief system is presupposed or required? How can spiritual practice in an Eastern tradition inform Christian life and understanding?
In the process of describing the Zen way of life, Healing Breath will consider various Christian expressions, symbols, and practices - not as an apologetic for that belief system, but to show how they, too, point to the transformative and healing perspectives and experiences provided by Zen.
A former Jesuit priest, Ruben L.F. Habito is professor of world religions and spirituality at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and resident teacher at Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. A dharma heir of Yamada Koun, he is also the author of Healing Breath and other works in Japanese and English.
"This is not merely another book about healing; it is a healing book."
– Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB
"Habito invites Christians to explore a new way of life and approach to enhance their own spiritual practice. The discipline of Zen is presented as a practice open to, available and permissible for Christians, in addition to Buddhists... Healing Breath encourages you to experience your faith more deeply, and heal yourself and the world."
– LA Yoga
"I am grateful to Ruben Habito for sharing his cogent insight into the perennial, healing inspiratiopn that rises now as Buddhist, now as Christian."
– Robert Aitken, author of Taking the Path of Zen
"Healing Breath presents profound truths simply. It is the balm needed for our existential and cosmic woundedness."
– Pascaline Coff, OSB, Osage Monastery
"Healing Breath is a Christian Zen celebration of the healing power immediately available to us all!"
– John P. Keenan, author of The Meaning of Christ and co-author of Beside Still Waters: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha
"Ruben Habito is one of the most interesting and compelling spiritual guides for our times. He brings wisdom and humility in equal parts to the project of awakening. His time in the meditation hall has been matched by his commitment to social activism. He brings good humor, genuine attention, and a certain grace to his teachings. There may be no better Zen teacher in the West today."
– James Ishmael Ford, author of Zen Master Who? and If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break
"Habito's interpretation of Christian orthodox beliefs through a Zen lens [is fresh]: for example, Jesus' mystical body may be fruitfully compared to 'this very body' of the Buddha. Given this parallel, both enlightenment and what Christians term 'the reign of God' are already at hand. From a Buddhist point of view, there is nothing to attain; for a Christian, beholding God can happen right now rather than only in the afterlife. For both, the interconnectedness of all beings becomes apparent, and a statement like 'God is love' can express a moment of enlightenment. These kinds of comparisons enrich and unlock the challenging and sometimes mysterious language of Christianity."
– Publishers Weekly
"A refreshing 'testament of hope.' By a serious assimilation of the work one can help bring the global family to new levels of compassion and authentic celebration of all that is. The book is a breath of fresh air. [...] A much needed compendium for the 'monk in everyone.'"
– Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
"Habito believes that Zen offers an antidote to the woundedness of our times, which are characterized by a fear of the natural world as other, widespread alienation and violence in society, and a tendency to see ourselves as separate from our neighbors. Zen opens us to a new way of seeing and being with its emphasis upon direct transmission outside Scriptures, its refusal to rely on words or letters, its relationship to the core of our being, and its message about awakening to our true nature. Habito examines this path as 'the art of living in attunement with the Breath' and then goes on to discuss the elements of sitting meditation. Zen affirms the art of simply being, the miracle of the body, and an appreciation of the everyday wonders of life. The author makes a convincing case that Zen has resonances with Christianity and that the two together can offer a spirituality of engagement for a postmodern world."