Surprisingly, this volume in Documentary Comic Books Series from Writers and Readers publishers turns out to be a pearl of great price: a readily accessible, fun to read, History of Zen Buddhism. In a delightful series of line drawn cartoons (which the subject lends itself to) we follow Gotama Buddha through his magistral Life, Nagarjuna thru his teachings, Bodhidharma into China, Dogen back to Japan, and every major figure in between. The contributions of these great teachers and patriarchs are reduced to a few key sayings, koans, and concepts. In 160 pages, mostly pictures, the reader garners a coherent picture of the history, identity, meaning, and purpose of Zen, that would otherwise have taken the reading of many volumes, thick ones, to imbibe. This effort is a brief, informative recovery of the original face of Zen history and a wonderful teaching tool. My friend, the late Paul Reps, would have LOVED this slender masterpiece. Or, as Ikkyu puts it in the book:
'And what is it, the heart?
it is the sound of the pine breeze
in the ink painting.'