Chuck The Monk - Empty Fun: Catlike daily wisdom and the quest for the feline Self Ebook

Publication: The Zen Lab
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Egocentric and self-centered for some, yet deep spiritual gurus for others, cats walk back and forth on the fence that divides the illuminated and the mundane worlds. Witness with us the collapse of this apparent contradiction in a comic strip book about a Buddhist cat. With your attention on a purring breathing, you will discover the deep and silly secrets these furry sentient beings have been keeping from us.

The strips portrait a cat named Chuck who is both a brain scientist and a Zen monk, together with his spiritual teacher, his friends, and family. His questions about the mind, consciousness, and existence traced a path that led both to science and spirituality. The book reflects a good-hearted humor about daily life paradoxes that has often both a puerile angle and a more in-depth philosophical layer. The work does not aim to preach, but it is inspirational and expresses with simplicity and beauty the wisdom, humor and internal reflections of someone looking for existential answers. Chuck, the main character, is a hyperbolic version of co-author Carlos Valencia and his experience as a brain scientist and as a monk in the Soto Zen tradition together with his practice in and out of temples around the world.

Co-authors Diego Otero and Carlos Valencia used to draw and write comics in elementary school. Several decades, and a few rounds around the world later, they met again in their hometown and decided to give their childhood dreams a shot to. Carlos waved some writing ideas and Diego unsheathed a pencil. This book is a compilation of their first year of weekly strips online at, plus insightful comments and a “making of” section.

When the authors initially discussed the project, Diego thought it was a great idea because of the paradox of a very selfish being trying to be a good Buddhist. Carlos, on the other hand, was absolutely convinced that there was nothing more Zen than a cat. The good news is: The universe has space for contradictions. In the Zen tradition, illumination is in our daily life. Samsara is not different from Nirvana and we are not spiritual in spite of our humanity, but thanks to it. Cats are a purrrfect example of this. By being themselves, by being natural, by being present, and focused and resolute, they display teachings that we can use in our daily life to be more relaxed, equanimous and content. These expressions also reveal profound existential answers about who we are and how we see the world. This book illustrates some of the valuable lessons that cats teach us in silence (like any good teacher) in the hope that we discover them by ourselves.

The first paperback edition was possible thanks to crowdfunding with Kickstarter and the invaluable support of fans, and was printed in Washington DC in 2017. The strips are published once a week on the website and are currently published periodically by the E-Newsletter of Tricycle Magazine, (in Dutch), and Brain World Magazine. These cats have also appeared on paper in Buddhadarma Magazine from Lion’s Roar, Brain’s World Magazine, and Tricycle Magazine. Finally, a percentage of our profit is donated to the Colombian-German NGO School for Life.

Here they are, creators and creation showing you the result of their crossing paths. They certainly hope you enjoy it. For them, it feels as a very organic process, not only because they put a lot of heart and balls in it, but also because it grew by itself, it came together and developed in a natural way. They all feel very passionate about it and hope it has a positive poking in your hearts and minds. Thanks a bunch for being their reader and for your generous contribution to their project.

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Chuck The Monk - Empty Fun: Catlike daily wisdom and the quest for the feline Self