Religion: Zen: Beat & Square

Zen Buddhism is growing more chic by the minute. Latest evidence: the summer issue of Chicago Review, which contains nine articles on the subject, a poem, and an excerpt from Zen-loving, "beat" Novelist Jack (On the Road) Kerouac's forthcoming The Dharma Bums. Begins Kerouac: "LET THERE BE BLOWING-OUT AND BLISS FOREVERMORE."

Long rooted in Japan, Zen is an ancient Chinese technique of mind-breaking discipline aimed at freeing the will. All things bubble along in one interrelated continuum, says Zen. Why try to "grasp" or "stop" them? The real problem is spontaneity: how to "let go" and "go with" the permanent impermanence. The...

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