As many people begin to walk with a smaller footprint the amount of space they can dedicate to things like books becomes greatly reduced. I imagine that if I lived in a micro compact home I could have a bookshelf, but then I would have to give up cooking! In some ways, e-books allow me to rekindle (no pun intended) dreams of living in an eco home in the country that is completely off grid. It is a fantasy out of step with my actual life, but something I daydream about from time to time.
Digital books aside, libraries do provide alternative access for those who love print and are short on space. But the amount of library books I currently have checked out would not fit in micro home. So, here is a question someone would have to consider if they were going to go micro: If you only could own one print book, what would it be?
Some people are content if the only book they had was the Bible, Koran, or other religious text. For others a cookbook, perhaps the Silver Spoon, or a tome of World History, or an epic like The Odyssey might suffice. In Zen, it is said that learning occurs from heart to heart outside the scriptures. But over the ages, writings on Buddhism and Zen in particular has been widely published. The subject ‘Zen’ has over 200 entries in the OPL alone. Today, Zen teachers and students all around North America have added their unique voices to the mix to tell us what Zen means in their own lives.
You may feel that disregarding literature as necessary and then unleashing a flood of it may seem like a contradiction in Zen. But it is not. It is a warning. We are warned not to mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. Books can point a way but we still have to walk. The only book that can help us realize our life right now, is one with blank pages. Only through practice, paying attention and journaling(reflecting on) our engagement with life will we have a Zen manual for our life. But other texts like the Three Pillars of Zen and other tomes like the Bible and Koran can help point out a path. So I’ll leave you with an improvised Koan: If your book is blank, what will you read?