Living compassion: Soto Zen teacher Cheri Huber comes to Inner Light Ministries Thursday.
Cheri Huber Alles
By Bill Forman
Cheri Huber doesn't seem like your stereotypical Zen master, the kind who demand that you contemplate some inscrutable riddle for what seems like eternity and then periodically whack you upside the head (of course, that's just a stereotype, and yet ...).
In fact, Huber (who makes a rare appearance at Soquel's Inner Light Ministries Thursday) is so little like this old stereotype that her editor, Sara Jenkins, spends the better part of an introduction to the book, Sweet Zen: Dharma Talks From Cheri Huber, talking about how shocked she was when she encountered Huber at a full-service general store after a particularly rigorous retreat.
Jenkins was standing in line to buy gas and debating whether it would be appropriate to succumb to the worldly urge to grab an iced tea, and it took her a moment to realize that the woman she was standing behind had no such qualms.
"At the check-out counter, I found myself standing behind my Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, who had led the retreat," writes Jenkins. "She was purchasing a package of cookies. They were round and smooth and slightly puffy, with a dark chocolate coating, and resembled (I realized later) Zen meditation cushions. But what I saw was the marshmallow cookies of my childhood. If ego had a heart, mine would have broken in that moment. Chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies! What true Zen teacher would eat anything so sweet, so soft, so childish, so--un-Zen?"
All of which makes us question what exactly Zen is, given that Huber is a world-renowned Northern California Zen teacher with 17 books under her belt. The founder of the Zen Monastery Peace Center has written such seminal works as There Is Nothing Wrong With You and the newly published Making a Change for Good: A Compassionate Self-Discipline.
Despite her heavy credentials, Huber has long favored a friendly font that gives her books, on casual examination, the appearance of being handwritten. Her language and presentation sets her well apart from many spiritual teachers, yet her messages carry great power beneath their often frivolous surface.
You can find out for yourself when Huber comes to Inner Light Ministries this Thursday. Trust me: It's way better than getting whacked upside the head.
Cheri Huber speaks on Thursday, March 29, at 7pm at Inner Light Ministries, 5630 Soquel Drive, Soquel. Advance tickets are $5 and available at Gateways Bookstore, 1126 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. For more information call 831.429.9600 or visit www.gatewaysbooks.com.
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