The author of the book, Merry white Benezra, on her blog says ”Special Karma is a personal novel that tracks my experience as a resident at a Rinzai Zen monastery over an eight-month period. In it, I have tried to convey both the natural beauty of the setting, the everyday activities and challenges of monastic life, and some of the philosophical tenets underlying Buddhism. ”
This encompasses everything I have to say about the book really.
Its not so long, 130 pages, but packed with an very good, personal exploration of what practice means.
As the book progresses we are allowed to follow a woman, Iris, and her interactions and thoughts about the practice in, mainly, a zencommunity. There she meets Life, misconduct, practice, beauty, dharma.
The settings and characters are conveyed very well, and gives the book an ”feel-good” feeling although it is an very ”heavy book” in some ways.
She softly touches many of the ”troubles” that you can experience when in an close community, both within yourself and in interactions with others.
When you read the text on the back of the book you believe that its main theme is the misconduct of an zenmaster, which is an hot topic, as always.
However, the misconducting zenmastertheme is only subtly touched, and not, in my view explored enough. Its lingering in the dark shadows of the story itself, just like the shark in Jaws, just being there, using the music and settings to get the effects through.
In the end this is a book about love, really. Not only do you get an very intimate view from Iris, and the people she encounter through all the stages along the path of love. But you also get a view of all parts of love, that it hurts, its part of life and its all good practice.
Thank you for this.
May the force be with you