“Pouring Concrete: A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God” by Robert Harwood

One of the lessons that spiritual seekers find most appealing from a guru is their story of awakening.  Of those stories that appear in books, many are often incomplete or non-comprehensive.  A spiritual teacher writes a book and includes a page or two about his awakening in the introduction, and then spends the rest of the book in the realm of the esoteric.  This can prove to be very unsatisfying to one who wants to relate to a teacher on a human level.

“Pouring Concrete” by Robert Harwood is very different from any book I have read.  Harwood’s entire book is an awakening autobiography.  The book starts off in a captivating manner as we join him on the day of his initial enlightenment experience.  It then backs up to his youth, detailing how he grew up in a conservative Christian environment, and his eventual dissatisfaction with organized religion when it couldn’t answer his deepest questions. 


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He eventually found his way to Zen.  Harwood details his many years practicing Zen meditation and how he became a Dharma teacher.  What is most interesting is he recalls his thoughts and feelings about work, family, his reactions to daily life, and how it evolved over the course of his spiritual path.  His spiritual search also affected his business, his relationship with his wife and so on, just like it would with anyone else.  Incidentally, the title of the book comes from his experience in construction. 

Harwood is an avid hiker, and seemed to have some of his clearest moments out in nature.  The book is well written using very descriptive words.  I could almost picture myself on the trail hiking with him. 

He eventually awakened to the fact that Zen isn’t the only or right path to self-discovery.  All paths lead to the same place, just in different ways.  He talks of the satsang teacher, Gangaji, and his visits to see her.  Harwood also finally reconciled his differences with Christianity. 

For many spiritual seekers, Harwood’s circumstances and thoughts will mirror their own in portions of the book.  His is not a path of specialness that cannot be related to by anyone else.  That may be what is most appealing about “Pouring Concrete.”

This bookdeserves a high rating because of its uniqueness and the quality of writing.  The Enlightenment Dudes give “Pouring Concrete” a  9 out of 10.  For more spiritual book reviews, please visit us at www.enlightenmentdudes.com.

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