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Glimpse of Nothingness [Paperback]

Janwillem Van de Wetering
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; Reprint edition (1 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312209452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312209452
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,132,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The training is everywhere 23 July 2011
Format:Paperback
Once again Jan Willem van de Wetering in his humourous style exposes his experiences to the world without embarrassment or shyness. Ten years after his experience as a young man in the Zen monastery in Japan under the old master, even though he had separated from "Peter", the old masters heir to be, on bad terms, he meets him again in Holland and Peter visits him at his home. He decides to continue where he left off with his koan still smoldering inside. He spends some time at Peter's Zen community, or commarde as others called it, and solved his koan as well as others. We learn more of Peter and especially of the fascinating set of characters who are also seeking, such as Edgar or Rupert the erstwhile psychologist. As before, he struggles with the required discipline but this time it's not as hard, he has gained from his stay in Japan; as the old master said at the end of the first book "you are now a little awake, so awake you will never be able to fall asleep again".

The training is everywhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written quick read 25 Jan 2012
By Boels
Format:Paperback
I love Janwillem's books on his own experience into Zen! But you should read 'The empty mirror' before reading this - not neccesary, but do it! :-)
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I first read "A Glimpse of Nothingness" in 1976 and I still have my original hardback copy. I had never heard of Janwillem van der Wetering and it was years before I found a copy of his earlier Zen book, "The Empty Mirror" - twenty years later, in fact! However "A Glimpse of Nothingness" has haunted me for all that time and I have lost count of the number of times I have read it. I know some parts of it almost by heart but, whenever I read it, I still find myself right there in the story with the author, not really sure what is going to happen next. For me this book was, and still is, an absolute delight. In 1976 and the following five years, I was very ill and feeling very lonely, frightened and uncertain. This book, for reasons I am not able to put into words, was an enormous comfort to me and I felt the author to be a friend in some very dark times. When I feel low and spiritually drained these days, I find that certain movies and books give me the encouragement I need, no matter how often I watch or read them. Richard Attenborough's "Ghandi" (especially Ben Kingsley's performance) is one such movie; this is one such book.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Work 21 May 2003
By Swing King - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up in a college town's bookstore while visiting my sister. Sometimes I will just pick up a handful of books in the Eastern Philosophy section, and see what I get when I take off my blindfold. On the car ride home I was unsure while glancing over it if I was going to like this one or not. The back speaks of "...Zen sages who were alcoholics, the two natured personality of Zen Masters who enjoy sex and cowboy movies..."-I personally found this description of the contents after having read it, frankly completely off base.
This book is about a Zen student's adventures from Japan, back to Amsterdam, to the United States-where this book takes place for the most part. It could be any Zen community really, it shows what it is like working with others in a very accurate manner. He writes with a direct simplicity-he is not wordy, just says it how it was. Now did I agree with everything he had to say about Zen? Not at all, but the important thing is I was asked a lot of questions while reading this book. And that's what any good book can do above all else, is ask questions-rather than saying, "here, agree with me."
A passage of his book that provided myself with a lot of insight goes as follows,
"A Chinese allegory tells how a monk sets off on a long pilgrimage to find the Buddha. He spends years and years on his quest and finally he comes to the country where the Buddha lives.
He crosses a river, it is a wide river, and he looks about him while the boatman rows him across. There is a corpse floating on the water and it is coming closer.
The monk looks. The corpse is so close he can touch it. He recognizes the corpse, it is his own.
The monk loses all self control and wails.
There he floats, dead.
Nothing remains.
Anything he has ever been, ever learned, ever owned, floats past him, still and without life, moved by the slow current of the wide river.
It is the first moment of his liberation."
This book is brilliant in all places, it shows some struggle with inner questioning. A wrestling with the author's own cleverness. It almost feels like a diary. One that just so happened to have been written while having a stay with a Zen community. I believe you will come to appreciate this book a lot.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The training is everywhere 5 Mar 2001
By Frank Bierbrauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Once again Jan Willem van de Wetering in his humourous style exposes his experiences to the world without embarrassment or shyness. Ten years after his experience as a young man in the Zen monastery in Japan under the old master, even though he had separated from "Peter", the old masters heir to be, on bad terms, he meets him again in Holland and Peter visits him at his home. He decides to continue where he left off with his koan still smoldering inside. He spends some time at Peter's Zen community, or commarde as others called it, and solved his koan as well as others. We learn more of Peter and especially of the fascinating set of characters who are also seeking, such as Edgar or Rupert the erstwhile psychologist. As before, he struggles with the required discipline but this time it's not as hard, he has gained from his stay in Japan; as the old master said at the end of the first book "you are now a little awake, so awake you will never be able to fall asleep again".

The training is everywhere.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intriguingly named "Corpse" 7 July 2008
By Andrew Parsons - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just finished this great book. Two days pass, and I want to know more about this man. I tell my girlfriend to google him. As she was searching I started to ponder how old this guy must be. After all, he did write it in the 70's. I guess 70. Turns out he is 77. She continues to search on Wikipedia and says, "this can't be right, he just died two days ago." I was amazed. As I was finishing the last chapter, intriguingly named "Corpse" he was dying or had already passed. I hope he found the liberation he was looking for. Great read for someone interested in Zen, Buddhism or anyone on a search for the truth.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars taught me that zen is a dirty word 10 Nov 2002
By Yugen Phoenix - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
this book shows that the most sacred is found in wherever you are, and it is never necessary to point it out. Its just there smiling from the shadows, waiting for you to share in the joke. The character of Peter is very interesting and represents an 'ideal' which I try to live up to, not in the sense of mirroring his personality or surroundings, but merely reflecting the core that is all our nature. It is not so much the narrator's specific journey is important, as none of ours are except to us individually, but of the feeling generated from knowing though flawed we are all just sleepy children not yet aware of the extend of our shared majesty.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another View 27 April 2009
By Gregory O. Schnurr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading enough books on Buddhism, Tao and Zen to thoroughly drive me nuts at times, it was nice to read a book about an almost average guy trying to live the way in an almost average world while continuing his practice one day at a time. It was a nice read with a bit of humor along with a lot of subtle, thought provoking ideas without the romanticizing of the Zen life. Life for me isn't about shaving my head, begging with a bowl and escaping the world into a monetary. It was nice to read a book from the other side of Zen, a modern view with the renegade style of some of the lesser glorified Zen masters. A good insightful read, it left me wanting more as opposed to being left bored by endless ritual descriptions and sutra quotes.
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