Shoes Outside The Door: Desire, Devotion, And Excess At San Francisco Zen Center

Shoes Outside The Door: Desire, Devotion, And Excess At San Francisco Zen Center

  • Publish Date: 2002-09-03
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Michael Downing
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Brand: Counterpoint
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Provides a close-up look at the scandals that rocked the San Francisco Zen Center, a leader in alternative religious practice and the counterculture in America, and their repercussions. Reprint. Why did the richest, most influential, highest flying Zen center in America crash and burn in 1983? Novelist Michael Downing wondered the same thing, and after three years of interviewing members and poring over documents, his Shoes Outside the Door tells the story. Womanizing, BMW-driving Richard Baker was the abbot and visionary behind the rapid growth of the San Francisco Zen Center, but in many ways he was the antithesis of his teacher and predecessor, the inimitable and revered Shunryu Suzuki, who would choose the bruised apples out of compassion. After the early death of Suzuki, a blind and driven cult formed around Baker, seemingly filling the void until this "Dick Nixon of Zen" finally slept with his best friend's wife and brought his world crashing to the ground. Working with direct quotations from students and workers of the Center and its many enterprises, Downing delivers a page-turning expos of a community that is as laudable as it is laughable. And as an outsider to both the community and Buddhism, he does it with wit and an even hand. --Brian Bruya

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