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Silence and Noise: Growing Up Zen in America Paperback – Bargain Price, July 29, 2003


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0743417550
  • ASIN: B000C4T38Y
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,261,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The "convert Buddhism" of the 1960s has been around long enough to produce a second generation of practitioners. Son of businessman and author Lewis Richmond, Ivan (now 28) spent his childhood years at Green Gulch, the rural San Francisco Bay area Zen monastery. Those silence-drenched early years were spiritually formative, making the younger Richmond a native Buddhist who found, and continues to find, himself out of place in the larger American culture-materialistic, trend-conscious, noisy, Judeo-Christian-to which his parents returned when he was only 10. Richmond writes as a "rank and file Buddhist" rather than a master or teacher, distinguishing his perspective from most authors in the body of American Buddhist practitioner writings. He manages nonetheless to teach about Buddhism by laying out apparent contradictions in his experience and then explaining a Buddhist "middle way" in which he lives with the tensions of being a silence-loving non-materialist in a noisy consumer culture. His unadorned expository style nicely embodies the plain-experience quality of Zen; the lack of unfolding dramatic narrative that conventionally ought to characterize a life story is also distinctively Zen-like. This quiet tale is a good social study of being young, Zen and American.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

Sojun Mel Weitsman Berkeley Zen Center An unusual child's view of what it was like to grow up in a Zen monastic community in his, and its, formative years during the late 70s, and early 80s, and suddenly finding himself at age 10 immersed in the 'noisy' world. The contrasts between the two worlds and his struggle for integration between them provides an eye opener to an unexamined area within the Zen community.

Michael Downing Author of Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center Richmond writes in a refreshingly clear voice, and his frank memoir documents his intention to seek the Middle Way, which he locates somewhere between the remote Zen Buddhist monastery where he spent his early childhood and the roiling American mainstream into which he was plunged as an adolescent.

Norman Fischer Zen priest, poet, and author of Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up Honest and wise, [this] is a book anyone concerned with contemporary youth -- and with the Western Buddhist movement -- will want to read.

Syliva Boorstein, Author of Pay Attention, for Goodness' Sake This account of an American childhood in a community that is both countercultural and Zen weaves basic Buddhist concepts into the fabric of the narrative.... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
This very readable, human book takes you into the world and mind of someone who has led an unusual life and destroys the myth that all Americans are somehow "coming from the same place" and can use the same experiences and references. Wrong! And this author is only one of many.
Mr. Richmond serves as a translator, so to speak, a bridge between divergent world views and his descriptions of trying to understand "Pop Culture" ( and sometimes getting it wrong) are fascinating. He writes with humanity and humor, never taking the stand that his upbringing and ideals are "better" just because they are different. This is a white, middle class individual who speaks English, one can only guess at how hard American culture ( and the idea we are a "Christian Nation") is for some people coming from "outside" to grasp. I read it in one or two sittings, I found it touching and eye opening, with a refreshing simplicity.
The message I got: No world view, or lifestyle, is ever perfect. There is good and bad in all lifestyles and religions, and a compassionate person needs to see that we are *not* all alike, not all coming from a common reference. As we stretch toward empathy, our spirit grows. Mr. Richmond's struggle to unite "silence" with "noise" has given him a unique perspective, one I really enjoyed sharing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Voigt on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a young man raised in the quiet reflection of a Zen monastery, but thrown suddenly into the noise, confusion, and chaos of mainstream America. The author paints a vivid picture of his struggle to adjust to a kaleidoscopic, loud, and sometimes rude new culture. He examines differences in assumptions, values, and customs, and explores the meanings in those differences. He also describes how, in the end, his Buddhist upbringing helped him come to terms with the changes.

This book is clearly and vibrantly written, and very enjoyable. It's also an eye-opener. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Allan Blackwell on September 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I appreciate the positive reviews here, and read the book carefully. May I just add a few wrinkles? The book is rather repetitive, sometimes jarringly so, as if a page had been reprinted; all of this looks like padding in a rather thin narrative. We keep hearing, and a little bitterly, about his life at Green Gulch. Fine, except it was from the ages of 3 to 10. Aside from the dubious worth of one's autobiography as a little kid (not for nothing was THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE a pile of b.s.), Richmond admits that he got almost no religious instruction at the commune. His parents went back to the world, and even then, Buddhism was little more than background.

So what do we have? The insights of a sensitive, intelligent young man, with the added frisson of Buddhism. Anyone who has wrestled with pacifism versus violence, the mind-frying noisiness of our commercial civilisation, and so on, shall recognise Richmond's thoughts and insights. But, when it is done, this not uncharming book is as thin as a tatami mat.
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