Alfred University News

Emeritus Professor Ben Howard’s book on Zen published

The Absolute Moment: Essays on Western Zen, a new book by Benjamin Howard, emeritus professor of English at Alfred University, has been released by Jericho Hill Publishing and is now available on Amazon.

Set in locales ranging from Eastern Iowa and Southwest Ireland to Western New York, Howard’s essays address subjects as diverse as the Japanese tea ceremony, the U.S. Marine Corps motto “Improvise, adapt, and overcome,” and the paradoxical wisdom of a Zen koan (“Walk straight by winding along”).

Viewing these and other subjects through the lens of Zen teachings, Howard invites readers to become aware of what Zen masters call the “absolute moment”: the present moment, cut off from the vanished past and the still-unfolding future. In this timeless moment, practitioners can realize both the relative and absolute dimensions of human experience.

Those wishing to establish a meditative practice, or to deepen an existing practice, will find detailed instructions for practicing zazen (seated meditation) and for cultivating the qualities of mind and heart known as the paramitas, or “Perfections of Wisdom.”

headshot of Ben Howard
Ben Howard

The Absolute Moment is Ben Howard’s twelfth book and his fourth collection of essays on Zen practice. His previous collections include The Backward Step, praised by Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot of the Upaya Zen Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as “wise and true.” “This wonderful book,” she adds, transmits the essence of practice realization.”

Barry Briggs, Guiding Teacher of the Cochise Zen Center in Bisbee, Arizona, observes of Howard’s latest work that it draws on the “literary and wisdom traditions of Asia and the West, as well as on everyday experience.” The author’s essays, he notes, “reveal the ‘other shore’ – that place where strife, struggle, and suffering fall away.”