The author of this little gem of a book described herself as a ‘self-absorbed artist’ before her partner brought home a kitten and introduced her to feline guardianship. DelMonte soon found herself falling in love and starting a 20-year journey of not only sharing her life and heart with cats but exploring and living the principles of Japanese Zen practice.
The book is named after Ku Ku, a special cat who helped lead the author down the road to enlightenment, wisdom and compassion-teaching her that joy is in the present moment and that death can offer us important gifts and lessons if we know how to stay open to them.DelMonte also shares her thoughts and memories of other cats who have come and gone in her life.
Poetic, touching and illustrated with evocative line drawings, this book is a delight.
––Animal Wellness Magazine, October 2012
This book is about the relationship between animals and humans and about the human condition as it relates to the animal condition. The reader holds hands with life and death, simultaneously, through the authors struggle to accept and believe in the eternal soul of all things, especially the soul of those beings that are held dear. After reading this book, I was left with a feeling of lightness. There is enough grace in its pages to allow the reader to let go of old pains, guilts and to accept one's human condition while trying to do better in our relationships to all things large and small. The Zen teachings are apparent, though through the storyline, which is much more easily apprehended than advice about how to "be here now" or various treatise on mindfulness. The authors foray into the meaning and practice of simplicity gives a hopeful message to those of us who have cluttered minds and too fast lives. So, if you'd like to slow down and smell the flowers, this book will be both helpful and enjoyable...and you don't have to be "cat person" to enjoy or understand its teachings.
Each chapter includes a quote and also a drawing of the author's cats. The drawings alone are worth the price; even though the author abandoned visual art, formally, her ability to capture her animal mates is uncanny. The drawings deserve a book of their own! A lovely book--well worth reading.
––Yvonne L. Westbrook, MFT
Ku Ku Zen has only one hundred and fifteen pages: fifteen brief chapters, with an introduction and epilogue. Yet, by no means, is this thin book a "quick-read." Rather, it's a "slow" one because page after page Ku Ku Zen inspires thought about the relationship between all forms of earthly life and how each transcends time. Even the book's encrypted title conveys its content: KUKU - a cat; ZEN - Chinese for quietude. Although a "slow" read implies frequent trips to a dictionary, Del Monte writes simply and eloquently about art, neighbors, gardens, chores, feisty felines (herself included), service to impatient monks, and Michael, her musician boyfriend who shares her home and love of cats - except for strays like Ku Ku, a rescue from a Pepper Tree. Ku Ku Zen belongs on the shelf beside other Zen classics, e.g., Zen and the Art of Archery, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding. This is a book to read again and again. It also comes with a bonus: each chapter opens with a sensual, often humorous, drawing of Del Monte's cats: Yudi Boo, Bubby, Baba Louie and last but not least, Ku Ku, a guru in disguise.
Glimpses of zen training and animal communication create a meaningful journey that the author must take after one of her beloved cats dies. Questions about death, life, love and the meaning of it all are addressed in a completely personal way that I could relate to. Lovely illustrations by the author, of her many rescued cats, grace the book's chapters. This slim volume is filled with beautiful prose and comfortable meanderings through the essence of soul searching. Startlingly beautiful images are evoked as the author comes to grip with her contemplation of death and the richness of being present. Del Monte says beautifully, "maybe choice was what Zen practice was about. Noticing how the breath entered and left the nostrils and sometimes felt like silk.
––Louise Henry, photographer, Oregon
Ku Ku Zen is an inspiration and balm to the soul. ––Teresa Wagner, Whale Advocate, Grief Counselor, Animal Communicator, author of Legacies of Love
I was touched and moved deeply by Ku Ku Zen. I teared up a couple of times, not always from sadness, but moved by the poetry. –––Jyo Zen Anjyu, Zen Master
This book inspires thought about the relationship between all forms of earthly life and how each transcends time. Ku Ku Zen belongs on the shelf beside other Zen classics, e.g., Zen and the Art of Archery, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding. This is a book to read again and again. It also comes with a bonus: each chapter opens with a sensual, often humorous, drawing of the author’s cats.
––MARCELLA MEHARG, writer