In the second part of Zen and the Successful Horseplayer, Donner introduces the reader to basic concepts of Zen. “Zen is traditionally seen as enlightenment or awakening and, finally, as ethics and a means of conducting oneself.” In horse wagering, he explains, it is important to establish a Zen-like center of calmness, humility, and balance—qualities applicable to life in general, he notes. Additionally, the entire book is interspersed with koans, Zen parables, and stories that illustrate the author’s points. Donner’s koans include poetry and quotations from Zen masters, writers, and even comedians such as Steve Martin.
The author, a special agent with the FBI who specializes in anti-narcotic and counter-terrorism activities, has been betting on horses for more than twenty-five years. It’s a good bet that anyone who reads Zen and the Successful Horseplayer with an open mind may find their life changed by the experience.