Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan

This 2 1/2 hour audiobook is bookended with an hour long biography of Zen Master Ryokan and 15 minutes of anecdotes.  In between are his simple Zen “poems that are not poems.”  Ryokan was a Buddhist monk, a Shinto temple keeper, and by most accounts a very unkempt and dirty individual.  You’d never know it by his poetry.  This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I could experience it in its original form, understanding the original language, and admiring the original calligraphy.  An audiobook just doesn’t do it justice, but for those of us who aren’t multilingual, it’s acceptable enough to let us know just how much we might be missing.

4 stars

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