Enlightenment comes in cartoon formIt would be a terrible mistake to think that yoga and Buddhism pertain to just Asians. That might have been the case 20 years ago, but not anymore. These interests are now studied by Westerners.
“Zen Comics,” by Ioanna Salajan, a cartoon essay on the lessons of Zen Buddhism, which was recently translated into Korean, is tangible proof.
Whether you are Asian or from the West, some of the Zen notions are dizzyingly complex, perhaps because they are so simple and subtle. So it is for young monks in the book, who never seem to get a clear grasp of what the old monk is saying about temperance and spiritual healing.
The young disciples try to understand the spiritual learnings, but their minds are always focused on exterior conditions.
In one episode, a young disciple asks an old monk what differences there would be for those who come to spiritual awakenings and who live in worldly illusion.
The old monk responds, “How would I know such things?”
The young one asks again, “But you have experienced an awakening, haven’t you?” The old monk answers, “But I am not dead yet.”
The book consists of different episodes that are based on conversations between two people. The stories mostly end with enlightening advice on life and what Zen means to its practitioners.
In the end, readers can agree with the book’s concluding theory: “When a normal person absorbs teaching, he becomes a wise man. But when a wise man earns a spiritual awakening, he becomes a normal person.”
The author, who was born in Romania and spent most of his life in the United States, began studying Buddhism and meditation in the 1960s. The book is a collection of essays published in a Dutch-based New Age magazine called “The Universe.”
The book, which was published in the United States in 1974, owes its Korean release in large part to the efforts of Ahn Jung-hyo, the author of “White Badge” and a high-profile translator who worked at an English-language newspaper in the 1960s.
Mr. Ahn, who translated the book, wrote in his foreword that he read the book several times and became friends with the author, who is currently based in Spain, while working on the translation.
by Lee Hoo-nam