Book Review: Dharma Delight by Musho Rodney Alan Greenblat

Dharma Delight

In Dharma Delight, abstract artist and Zen practitioner Rodney Greenblat uses light-hearted narrative and vivid pop art paintings to celebrate the joys of living life from the inside out.

Part graphic guide, part personal testimony, part art book, Dharma Delight illustrates how seeking the path of compassion and acceptance can be as zany and exuberant as it is profound. It is a happy exploration of Buddhist Enlightenment—what it is, where to seek it—and how to recognize the perfection in ourselves. A great option for Zen beginners; sutras (teachings), Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) and jataka tales (parables) are presented in a way that’s simple, upbeat and fun to read.

The original paintings—some new, some already known on the New York art scene and elsewhere—are an imaginative and affirming mind’s-eye view of Buddhist teaching. Together, the words and illustrations are a warm and cheerful invitation to newcomers and a cool splash of refreshment to any traveller on the road to enlightenment. (Tuttle)

From the moment I saw the cover of this book I knew I was going to love it. In the middle of the bright cover sits a peaceful looking Buddha pointing to a spot on the ground marked ‘you are here’. There is a turtle with a look of determination on his face and a label saying ‘keep on going Go!’ walking on the circular path of life, and goats happily munch the green grass. The whole book is a visual treat – bursting with colourful, fun illustrations which are packed with detail.

Dharma Delight

Many visits to Japan have led to author Musho Rodney Alan Greenblat becoming a student of Zen. In addition to being a seriously cool artist and designer, he is also the character designer for the PaRappa the Rapper (パラッパラッパー) anime that was released in Japan (now that takes me back to my PlayStation days!). Greenblat has exhibited in America and Japan, and Japanese fans can find out more about his work through his Japanese website.

Parappa The Rapper

Parappa The Rapper

(Image source)

In the preface to Dharma Delight, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara writes “Be warned! There are profound teachings here. And, just like the title, this one is truly a delight“, and O’Hara is correct! This book appears to be comic-like and light-hearted on the surface, but it is actually a beautiful, educational book about Buddhism. Taking a massive and complicated topic, Greenblat easily breaks concepts down into delicious and very edible chunks of ‘Dharma Delight’ (which to me sounds like the name of the best dessert that ever there was).

Dharma Delight

The book starts with Greenblat saying “When visiting the old temples of Japan as a tourist, I had many questions. What are all these big Buddha statues trying to say? Why are these strange Zen monks sitting facing the wall? Can they help me with my confusing and challenging life?“. These are all thoughts I’ve had myself when wandering around temples in Japan, staring at the many and varied statues of different religious figures, and I can relate to his desire to know more.

Hase-dera (temple)

Hase-dera, Kamakura

My favourite section of the book has to be the part about Jizo, my favourite Bodhisattva, protector of travellers and departed or unborn children. Jizo always seems to pop up when I’m exploring in Japan, and it was great to see Greenblat’s explanation of his story and cute illustrations.

Dharma Delight

Dharma Delight, which really is an absolute delight, also contains stories from various walks of Buddhism, and a whole section on Zen training with useful illustrations. This is a gorgeous and informative book, that would make a wonderful present for even the mildly Buddhism-curious (or indeed a present to yourself – you deserve it!).

Buy Dharma Delight by Musho Rodney Alan Greenblat from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (released 10th May in the US and 10th June in the UK) and read more at TuttlePublishing.com.

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