Book Review – Zen Rohatsu by Nora D’Ecclesis

Book Review
Zen Rohatsu
By Nora D’Ecclesis
Publisher: Renaissance Presentations, LLC
101 pages
Publication: July 1, 2022











From the book description:

“Zen Rohatsu is the A to Z of Zen, as it is the backstory of why we meditate, live mindfully and have a spiritual practice. The Zazen Meditation combines the practice with mind and body from a 2,700 year old philosophy. It informs us of the potential enlightenment from suffering that historical Buddha experienced while sitting under a fig tree in ancient times. Meditation keeps us in the present with focus, equanimity and stress management.

Rohatsu is a spiritual practice of meditative zazen that occurs on the eighth day of the twelfth month on the Gregorian calendar. The meditation sessions, which focus on Zazen Meditation rather than scriptures or rituals, are celebrated for seven days in advance of December 8th by Zen practitioners all over the world. The Rohatsu days and nights are replicated enactments of how we think historical Buddha from the Shakyamuni tribe achieved enlightenment. It includes a look at why Buddha sat in front of that banyan fig tree known as a peepul tree in Bodh Gaya in India.

Zen is but one branch of the Buddhist tradition that emerged as a result of those eight days, many years ago before written word. This is the story of how the concept of Buddhist enlightenment emerged from the Buddha’s days on earth. Rohatsu is unique to Mahayana Zen — Japanese Zen which celebrates the Rohatsu experience. It is an introduction to the spiritual practice. We learn from the historical perspective in this book of what motivated Siddhartha’s experience and the men and women who ultimately expanded it globally to share the core concepts. Buddha was a man, not a deity, who found his enlightenment and set his path, avoiding suffering by controlling his thoughts and desires. Buddha always replied, according to ancient verbal communications, “I am awake.””

The book begins with a guided visualization that is very easy to get into. I could easily see myself walking the path.

I found this to be a small but powerful book on Zen Buddhism, meditation, serenity, and the life and teachings of the Buddha. She begins with the story of the Buddha’s life. We learn of the origin of Buddhism an of its central teachings and rituals. You can find some answers to the question why Buddhism is still alive and well after thousands of years. It is multicultural and can be practiced with or without an organized religion. Buddha was not, and is not, considered a deity. Therefore Buddhism does not compete with whatever religion a person practices or does not practice. Buddhism has no central text as is common with other religions and philosophies.

“Zen is a spiritual path that allows us to experience our essence, opening a portal to view life spontaneously. The meditative path is a journey toward the sacredness of existence. It is said we can all be serenely zen on a mountain during idyllic vacation, but true enlightenment is replicating that during the stress of our daily lives in the workplace, in family relationships and our internal anxiety with daily life.”

D’Ecclesis, Nora. Zen Rohatsu (p. 12). Renaissance Presentations, LLC. Kindle Edition.

With Zen, you can find silence in the midst of the storm. If you are fed up with the chaos of the world, the Buddha gives us a blueprint for living a lifestyle that is ethical, moral, and free of violence. Zen reminds us to be mindful, to not take the little things for granted because basically the little things are ultimately the big things. It is important to have a spiritual core within ourselves as the seeker of serenity will find that serenity there – within.

The main teachings of the Buddha are simply listed and simply explained. There are The Four Noble Truths; The Steps of the Eightfold Path; The Three Pure Precepts; and The Ten Grave Precepts – a lot of wisdom in a few short pages.

The history of Zen and its global spread is documented. The Japanese Tea Ceremony is beautifully detailed step by step. She tells us about haiku poetry.

I found this book to be a treasure that is good for both the beginner and seasoned practitioner. At the end, she gives a brief list of suggestions on how to meditate and notes from her own journey.

A couple of quotes that caught my fancy as I read:

“Enlightenment and escape from suffering totally is in the hands of the person, who holds the ultimate responsibility.”

(D’Ecclesis, Nora. Zen Rohatsu (p. 9). Renaissance Presentations, LLC. Kindle Edition.)

“May I become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection,
A guide for those who have lost their way,
A ship for those with oceans to cross,
A bridge for those with rivers to cross,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those without light,
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter,
And a servant to all in need.

by Shantideva, an eighth century Indian Buddhist monk”
(D’Ecclesis, Nora. Zen Rohatsu (p. 59). Renaissance Presentations, LLC. Kindle Edition.)

The book is heavy on history and, as such, I daresay it is may not be for everyone. I enjoyed it and picked up some gems of wisdom from it. I especially enjoyed the teachings of the Buddha and the chapter on mindfulness and spirituality.

Nora D’Ecclesis is an American bestselling and award winning non-fiction author. Her international #1 Amazon Bestselling Audiobook Spiritual Portals: A Historical Perspective published by Blackstone Audio Publishing. Multicultural Mindfulness: Nourishing the Soul
is also a First Place Gold Winner in Spring, 2022 TheBookFest award.

Her published non-fiction include bestseller Haiku Natures Meditation and paperbacks/ebooks on topics such as time management, personal cyber security password log, guided visualizations, gratitude/equanimity journaling and zen meditation. Nora was the Solo Medalist in Spirituality from the New Apple Literary Award.

She added novelist to her list with the publication of Twin Flames written with her Co-Author, William Forstchen who is a NYT #1 bestselling novelist. Nora is a graduate of Kean University. She has a long history of presenting events, retreats and seminars focused on wellness and stress reduction techniques. She enjoys kayaking and hiking. Nora lives with her family and wonderful dogs in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.











Zen Rohatsu on Amazon


About the Author:

Katy Ravensong is a practicing green witch in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She was raised here where she ran barefoot & free. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, voracious reader, crocheter, and amateur herbalist. She glories in the freedom that comes with being a Crone ~ when she is gone, she will not be known as a woman who could keep her mouth shut! She is disabled, yet tries to make disability work for her. She is an advocate for human rights. She is Dean of Wortcunning and Assistant Dean of Natural Philosophy at The Grey School of Wizardry. She has studied with various herbal teachers, with Witch School International, with Avalonian Institute of Metaphysical Arts, and is a priestess with the Sisters of Earthsong, Order of the White Moon. Her poetry has been featured in several publications including ‘Pagan Poetry for the Festivals and Seasons’ by Wyrdwood Publications edited by Edain Duguay, 2008. Her favorite quote is from Emily Dickinson “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”