Le mirror vide / The empty mirror
Janwillem Van de Wetering
One of the greatest pleasures of this project of reading 100 books from 100 countries has been the serendipity factor. I have sought out a few authors or titles in particular, but the vast majority of the time I have left it up to the randomness of chance each time I go on a book buying quest.
Last week I headed into my favourite local shop after a particularly trying day at work and spent a good hour browsing the collection. This shop has a great mix of new and used books so I never know what I might come across. They do have a friendly if not extensive English language section, but this time around I decided to stick to French language selection as it is obviously much larger. I walked out with 6 new books for the month; three from the African continent and three from Northern Europe.
Through out my adult life I have been pulled (gently) towards Buddhist philosophy, at university I took a number of philosophy classes and some comparative religion courses as well but it was always the Buddhist writings that spoke to me the most. I just felt a happiness everytime I read something from that perspective that I didn’t get from other philosophies or religions.
So stumbling across this wonderful book was the perfect combination of chance encounter and Buddhist thought.
Here are some pictures of my little Buddha companion trying to whisper words of wisdom into my ear.
I am a little hard of hearing it seems as most of the messages don’t really seem to get through. Ah well, small steps are the key!
The books I have read so far have all been fiction, but this one is a true story of the author’s time spent in a Buddhist monastery in Kyoto sometime after WWII. Granted if you have no interest in Buddhism this book would probably have no appeal to you, but for me it really resonated. While I have no real inclination to stay at a monastery, the journey itself with its quest for a greater understanding of self, meaning and reality is a page turning success for me. I think this is the kind of book that everyone who reads it experiences it differently, so I won’t go into great detail about the author’s time in Japan.
The book is easy to read and appealing, no haughty language or convoluted lecture; just a guy looking for answers and direction. Take what you want from the book and let it serve you well. I loved it.
What is really in the mirror? Are you there? Is it empty? Hmmm, so many questions grasshopper…
Next stop: Togo!