Ruth Ozeki Time Being

Author Ruth Ozeki Weaves Zen Buddhism and Novels

Ruth Ozeki Time Being

Famed novelist and Zen Buddhist priest, Ruth Ozeki shares one of the main inspirations for her work and life: her 800-year-old spiritual companion, Dogen.

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She has been influenced by her 800 year old spiritual companion Zen master, named Dogen, and she in turn imbues his knowledge in her life views and literature.

Dogen wrote in the 13th century that each day consists of 6,400,099,980 moments. For comparison, 65 moments is equivalent to the time it takes to snap your fingers. Ozeki says “Of course, this is rhetorical sleight of hand, counting moments is like trying to grab a fistful of water. But Dogen has a purpose: to get humans to slow down and think about their actions at every moment and not rush through the days. Be aware. Be alive.”

She adds “I find his view of time astonishing. There’s always enough time, if you just slow down.”

She first experienced Zen Buddhism in 1959 when she entered a room where her grandparents were sitting in Zen meditation. Since then, Ozeki had gravitated towards meditation, and became even more serious after the passing of her parents. Ruth Ozeki was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and will be presenting a writing workshop there April 26.

Her most recent novel, A Tale For The Time Being, was a finalist in 2013 for the Man Booker Prize. The title of the novel is based on Dogen’s work The Time-Being. Ozeki’s novel is a strong representation of Zen Buddhism. Her work seeks to slow time for the reader, and encapsulate them in the story and moment. The effect on readers is described as similar to Zen meditation.


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