Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata
Milkman by Anna Burns
Frankenstein by Junji Ito
This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan
Lullaby by Leila Slimani
Not One Single Thing: A Commentary on the Platform Sutra by Shodo Harada
Advice for Future Corpses by Sallie Tisdale (published in the U.K. under the inferior title Advice for the Dying)
Waiting for the Last Bus by Richard Holloway
Dead Men's Trousers by Irvine Welsh
The Xenofeminist Manifesto by Laboria Cuboniks
Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval
Her Cold Eyes by Tony Black
Disorder by Gerard Brennan
Men and Apparitions by Lynne Tillman
The Upper Hand by Johnny Shaw
The Butchering Art by Lindsay Fitzharris
Night Exposures by Gerry Loose
The Courage of Hopelessness by Slavoj Zizek
Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit
The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas
Out of the Wreckage by George Monbiot
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
A Scots Dictionary of Nature by Amanda Thomson
May can't get her Brexit deal passed at Westminster, so she's coming to Scotland to campaign for our support.
A few years ago, I realised I had never seen a good English translation of The Kannon Sutra, a.k.a. Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, so I decided to attempt one that was both accurate and easy to chant. This is the result (Romaji followed by English):
ENMEI JUKKU KANNON GYO
KAN ZE ON
NA MU BUTSU
YO BUTSU U IN
YO BUTSU U EN
BUP PO SO EN
JO RAKU GA JO
CHO NEN KAN ZE ON
BO NEN KAN ZE ON
NEN NEN JU SHIN KI
NEN NEN FU RI SHIN
TEN-LINE LIFE-PROLONGING KANNON SUTRA
Veneration to the Buddha
The Buddha is my origin
The Buddha and me — no separation
The Three Treasures and me — no separation
Bliss outside of time, pure freedom from self
First morning thought: Kanzeon
Last nighttime thought: Kanzeon
Thoughts, thoughts arise from the mind
Thoughts, thoughts are nothing but the mind
Memory can never be trusted. We think of our experiences as being real, our personal stories as being true. We think what we remember, and the stories we tell about these memories, are what actually happened. But this is an illusion, which, if we believe in it, becomes a delusion. There are events, and various people have their experiences of an event, and the experiences may vary so much that the event itself may disappear.
The event may be a brief incident, or a years-long marriage, but, as our story of it becomes part of our memoir, our personal mythology, it's important not to mistake it for historical fact.
It is a fact that there were rats in the tenements of Maryhill, Glasgow, in the 1970s. But everyone there had a different experience, including the rats.
Zazen means “sitting in meditation.” It is the heart of Zen practice, and is most useful if done daily. It is best learned from a teacher, who can check your posture and answer questions, but here are the basics of the practice that Dogen Zenji calls “the Dharma gate of great ease and joy.”
Zazen is traditionally done sitting on the floor on a zafu (cushion) and zabuton (mat), but can be done on a chair or any firm seat.
If using a zafu and zabuton, sit on the edge of the zafu. Your knees should rest on the zabuton, so that your weight is distributed between three points—your bottom, and each knee.
If using a chair, sit on the edge of the seat, not leaning against the back. Your feet should be flat on the floor, so that your weight is distributed between three points—your bottom, and each foot.
Imagine that there are wheels on your pelvis, like the wheels on a shopping cart. Roll the wheels forward, and you will feel your body come into alignment.
Your posture should now be upright and strong, but relaxed. Align your head so that the ceiling could rest on your crown if it were low enough. Place your hands in Cosmic Mudra — just below your navel, palms up, left palm on top of right palm, thumb tips touching.
Half-close your eyes, letting them go out of focus. Breathe naturally through your nose, not trying to control your breathing. Just observe the breath, at the point where you feel it enter. (If you are new to Zen practice, you might find it useful to count each breath, starting over again when you get distracted or when you reach the count of ten.) When thoughts arise, don’t fight them and don’t welcome them; just acknowledge them and return your attention to the breath. Don’t tell yourself a story; when a story starts — whether a daydream, a complaint, a judgment of yourself or others — just acknowledge it and return to the breath.
If you're practicing with a koan, sit as described above, and let the koan keep you company.
Don’t aim for any state, tranquil or angry. When you realise you feel angry, don’t try to stop being angry, and don’t get into the anger; just acknowledge it and return to the breath. When you realise you feel tranquil, don’t get into the tranquility; just acknowledge it and return to the breath. Ecstatic, agitated, calm, impatient, bored, rapturous, whatever comes up — just acknowledge it and return to the breath. To return to the breath is to return to life, your life, this moment.
I read a review that described a book as "a slim 200 pages." I thought of the books I grew up seeing in Glasgow bookshops; 200 pages was unusually excessive, with the average being 150 pages or less. I don't know how or when books became so bloated, but the reviewer's remark reminded me that I aim to get as close to a blank page as is possible while still having a story.