Enter the mind and practice of Zen: apply the insights of one of Zen's classic poems to your life--here and w. Shitou Xiqian's Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage is a remarkably accessible work of profound depth; in thirty-two lines Shitou expresses the breadth of the entire Buddhist tradition with simple, vivid imagery. Ben Connelly's Inside the Grass Hut unpacks the timeless poem and applies it to contemporary life. His book delivers a wealth of information on the context and content of this eighth-century work, as well as directly evokes the poem's themes of simple living, calm, and a deep sense of connection to all things. Each pithy chapter focuses on a single line of the poem, letting the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line and then come up for air before moving on to the next. Line by line, Connelly shows how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, expands on the poem's depiction of a life of simple practice in nature, and tells stories of the way these teachings manifest in modern life. Connelly, like Shitou before him, proves himself adept at taking profound and complex themes from Zen and laying them out in a practical and understandable way. Eminently readable, thoroughly illuminating, Inside the Grass Hut shows the reader a path of wholehearted engagement -- with the poem, and with the world. Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.
Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen priest in the Katagiri lineage training with Tim Burkett at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Connelly began teaching at MZMC in 2006, was ordained in 2009, and was made shuso, or head monk, in 2012. Ben is also a professional musician and developed and leads Mindfulness in the Mountains backpacking/meditation retreats in Northwest Montana. He lives in Minneapolis, MN. Taigen Dan Leighton (foreword) is a Dharma teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, leads the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, and teaches online at the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union. He's the author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression and Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry and is the editor and cotranslator of Dogen's Extensive Record.