This book is another in a series of great books that are compilations of lectures of the late Alan Watts by his son Mark. It is an excellent introduction to Zen, and it is also a very good synopsis for those who have studied Zen in detail for many years. With his typical genius for getting to the heart of the matter, Dr. Watts describes exactly what is the essence of Zen in the first chapter. Later on he even gives a tip for understanding the sometimes puzzling behavior of that unique species of human beings, the Zen master. Watts stresses the need for us to set up an environment where we can stop thinking or talking to ourselves, which is meditation, and he clearly describes a good technique for doing this. The state of mind that is a result of this suspension of thought is not a blank mind, but rather a mind that is deeply aware of the world as it is. Finally, Watts sums it all up by showing us how the Zen mind is not only a mind that can most effectively deal with those infamous Zen koans, but also with all of life's situations.
I recommend this book to the beginner as well as the seasoned veteran of Zen studies. It is short, to the point, and a brilliant expression of the essence of Zen.