Zen : Finding an Authentic Life by Ray Brooks
How did an undisciplined child, an utter
waster in his twenties who squandered the best part of his
early life away in the pubs, wine bars, and nightclubs of
London, find himself playing solo concerts in Japan on a
Zen flute? This book began out of a response to that question.
Blowing Zen is the story of the author's search for
an authentic life. The path he follows leads to a wonderful
spontaneity that fuses art, mind, body, and spirit. It was
written in the hope that at least one person with thoughts
of changing their life will be inspired into action.
"How does an electrical engineer from
London find himself playing the flute on a hillside in Japan?
Ray Brooks had had a piece of the good life, after all--high
salary, late-night parties, fast cars. But in his late 20s,
he did some soul searching, only to find that, spiritually
speaking, the lights were on but no one was home. Some radical
changes took him to Japan and a chance encounter with a
master player of the shakuhachi, the Japanese vertical flute.
He took it up and simultaneously absorbed the single-minded
Zen discipline that seemed to imbue all facets of Japanese
life. Brooks tells the story of his life in Japan, of his
journey up the hill of gambatte (perseverance), and
of his experiences in Japanese culture, such as his chat
with a marathon monk and his not-quite-voluntary performance
for members of the Japanese mafia. The title Blowing
Zen refers to Zen monks who used flute playing as their
meditative practice. One wishes more could have been made
of this in Brook's memoir, of his own relationship to Zen
and how exactly his life has become authentic. But perhaps
this is too much to ask when the ineffability of music is
coupled with the ineffability of Zen." --Brian Bruya
"A genuine spiritual journey, finding
Zen, music, and one's own true self. A lovely spirit blows
through this book" -- Jack
Kornfield, author of A
Path With Heart
"In sharing his quest,Ray has enriched
my life, and may inspire many others on the path of music,
the way of Zen." -- Dan
Millman, author of Way
of the Peaceful Warrior
"Not since Mickey Harts's Drumming
At The Edge Of Magic has a book so beautifully and
eloquently exemplified the connection between spirit and
music. Blowing Zen is a must-read for any musician
or artist needing to manifest that connection." --
Greg Ellis, co-founder of VAS
here for more information on this book
here for Music by Ray Brooks
here to visit the Ray Brooks Homepage
here for more books on Zen
Offers a brief overview of Zen Buddhism as
well as links to other sites on the subject.
Zen is a religious sect of Buddhism, that
teaches an approach to life, incorporating harmony between
ultimate reality and the world of daily life, cultivating
awareness of reality, and finding answers in this life and
beyond. The Japanese history revealed this philosophy gained
a vast popularity. Inevitably, this Zen teaching influenced
a great deal on Japanese culture such as Ikebana,
Tea Ceremony, and Zen Gardens...
This page has a collection of Zen koans, short
stories often in the form of a dialogue between a student
and a teacher that points toward some essence of the Zen spirit.
Also available are links to other Zen related sites on the
If you've wandered here wanting to know
what Zen is, then more than likely you will come away disappointed.
This is a question that is easily asked but not easily answered.
A Hindu story tells of a fish who asked of another fish:
"I have always heard about the sea, but what is it?
Where is it?" The other fish replied: "You live,
move and have your being in the sea. The sea is within you
and without you, and you are made of sea, and you will end
in sea. The sea surrounds you as your own being." The
only true answer is the one that you find for yourself.