Crowded by Beauty: A Biography of Poet and Zen Teacher Philip Whalen

A new biography of Philip Whalen is due out soon, published by the University of California Press. You can download a chapter of Crowded by Beauty at Coytoesjournal. The bio focuses on his friendship with Gary Snyder, “placing it in the context of some heady and practical Buddhist concepts,” according to Eddie Watkins who sent me the news.

Philip Whalen was born October 20, 1923, Portland, Oregon and died June 26, 2002.

Philip Whalen’s significance is so often underplayed in the beat scene, and the only reason I can explain that is that he chose to fully involve himself in Buddhism as a priest and not a lay practitioner as did his peers. We know that Ginsberg, Snyder, Kyger, and Welch were or are Buddhists, but the difference is that Whalen was the high priest of Zen Buddhism for the Beat Generation. After years of practice and monastic life, he became Abbot at the Hartford St. Zen Center. Philip’s interpretation of his lifestye as a Zen priest resulted in a life that did not involve having a high profile. Read more…

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