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Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way Paperback – September 23, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dennis Genpo Merzel trained under Zen Master Taizan Maezumi becoming a Zen teacher in 1980. He is one of a small group of Westerners recognized in both the Soto and Rinzai Zen traditions. In 1999, Genpo Roshi combined western psychology and Zen to create Big Mind, a self-discovery process that's been presented to thousands of people across America.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Big Mind Publishing; 1 edition (September 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977142337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977142330
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From his first awakening in February of 1971, Genpo Merzel's life has been about waking up to our essential nature, our True Self. For the past forty years since then his purpose and his passion have remained the same: to deepen his own clarity and to assist others to awaken and realize their true nature.

A champion water polo player and swimmer in his youth, Merzel left his careers as a school teacher and lifeguard after his awakening and lived alone for a year in a rustic cabin deep in the mountains near San Luis Obispo, chopping wood and carrying water and spending four to five hours a day in meditation. In March of 1972 he met Zen Master Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and subsequently moved to Los Angeles where he studied closely with him for the next twelve years. In 1980, a year after completing formal koan study, he became Maezumi Roshi's second Dharma heir.

He founded the Kanzeon International Sangha in 1982, bringing together individuals and groups studying with him throughout Europe and America. He continued studying with Maezumi Roshi until the latter's death in 1995, and received Inka, final seal of approval, from Zen Master Bernie Glassman in 1996, becoming Glassman's first Inka successor. Genpo Roshi has fifteen Dharma heirs and has given Inka Transmission conferring the title of Zen Master to nine Zen teachers.

In 1999 he created what he named the Big Mind Process TM, later also known as Big Mind/Big Heart TM. Acclaimed by philosopher Ken Wilber as "arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism," it is revolutionizing not only the teaching of Zen but also spiritual practices within and outside both Eastern and Western traditions. It has now spread to every continent and has helped many thousands of people from all walks of life have a genuine and sustainable awakening with little or no prior consciousness study, including persons of all faiths and religious backgrounds as well as non-believers. It is being used in the practice of psychotherapy, meditation, law, medicine, mediation, the arts, physical therapy, chaplaincy, yoga, business, athletics, social work, family therapy, primary through higher education and spiritual practices with prison inmates, hospital patients and the dying. Roshi continues to train people to bring this teaching out into the world even as he remains at the cutting edge of its evolution.

At the same time, like some of the outstanding Zen Masters of old, he has let go of even the attachment to Buddhism as an "ism" in order to transmit the essence of Zen, which is waking up to our essential nature free from all dogma, suddenly and immediately. In order to clarify certain inaccurate reports, he had considered stepping down as an American Soto Zen Buddhist Priest in February 2011 but this option was not allowed by the Japanese Soto Zen Headquarters in Japan or America and so he has been and still is a Zen Priest and has not stopped being a Zen Master. He is developing a Big Mind/Big Heart Zen that is free from much of the Japanese forms and "ism's" that have been transmitted to the West. This freedom from form and "ism" is consistent with the teachings of many of the Japanese Masters who came to the West and who also felt those in the West needed to discard many of the dogmas and forms as Zen takes root in the Western world.

His publications include The Eye Never Sleeps, Beyond Sanity and Madness, 24/7 Dharma, and The Path of The Human Being, and many DVDs. His latest book, Big Mind/Big Heart: Finding Your Way, has been published in twelve languages: Dutch Spanish, German, Russian, Polish, French, Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, Romanian, and Bulgarian.

Additional information about Genpo Roshi and Big Mind is available at or by calling 801 328 8414. For information about registering for or organizing an event, contact his personal assistant Mary Ellen Sloan at or 801 503-5656.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Robin L. Athey on October 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Western culture teaches us to focus on the good. This can offer merit. When we see the good in ourselves and others, we can create feelings of well-being. Yet, always lurking in the shadows are darker sides of our human nature. Seeing our shadow sides can create feelings of guilt and shame - a sense that we're not o.k. So we run and hide from them. When our shadows are particularly scary or deeply embedded, we may not even see them. When we repress the darker aspects of our nature, we carry a weight that limits our growth. Our shadows still emerge, but in covert ways that can damage our self and others. Conversely, allowing ourselves to embrace all aspects of our true nature can be immensely liberating. For it is only by bringing all aspects of ourselves into consciousnesss that we can truly awaken.

In Big Mind, Big Heart, Genpo Roshi offers us a wonderful gift. By knitting together the ancient wisdom of Zen with the more recent wisdom of Western psychology, he has created a technology accessible to anyone ready to face the challenges of inner work.

As a Research Director for one of the world's largest professional services firms, I find Genpo's work to be among the most important I have encountered across a wide terrain of material on learning and growth. I find it incredibly useful as I continue to develop my own self-awareness. I believe his work carries tremendous possibility for organizations, too - particularly in the domain of leadership development, where a shift in consciousness is of dire need.

We are at an inflection point in society and organizations where "how" we learn is every bit as important as "what" we learn.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By JB Lambson on October 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
It's been awhile since I read a "spiritual" book but I remember the drill. Ancient platitudes about life and morality, blah, blah, blah. It's all very nice but kind of boring.

Boy was this a surprise! Through a very interesting and entertaining process, I learned a ton about who I am both psychologically and spiritually, and it didn't make me want to run around in a monks robe and shave my head. This zen stuff is actually quite down to earth in a very profound and personal way. If this is what zen masters are teaching, I wish I would have checked it out along time ago.

Big Mind - Big Heart: Finding Your Way
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Oscar Z. Gregory on October 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
This great handy book is so simple to follow. The path into your hearth/mind is opened up wide and clear infront of your eyes. All you need to do is to take the first step to follow the basic instructions and keep on going one step after the other. Then for sure it will lead you to a glimpse into the real nature of your soul, as it did me several times.
I have been practicing meditation for 20 years and I have found this book revealing and cutting straight to the heart.
The basic techniques used by the Zen Master Genpo Merzel are Voice Dialogue and Meditation both of which are effortlessly explained in an easily understandable manner even for the very basic beginner.
A great and wonderful read challenging in its direct and vivid simplicity.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Nick Owen on October 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book sets out in clear and elegant prose, a deeply wise and compassionate pathway. Free from the spiritual jargon and superior tone that can be so damn tedious and holier-than-thou in a great deal of spiritual writing, the book teases out steps along a pathway on which we can begin to own, embody, and awaken our dualistic and non-dualistic selves.

The process, which elegantly and powerfully synthesises Zen practice with western psychotherapy, encourages us to experience the self not as `I' but as `It.' And as we begin to loosen up and let go off our sense of the `ego-self,' we can also start the process of letting go of attachment to our non-dualistic self as well.

Having identified key aspects of our Small Self and Big Self, Genpo's Big Mind process goes beyond both to include and transcend them in an act of deep integration. By integrating what is `Human' in us, and what is `Being' in us, we may at last begin to glimpse what it really means to be a `Human Being.'

This is a book that makes the mystery of enlightenment accessible and available to all. And not just in a personal context, but in a professional and corporate context too. This is enlightenment for the market place - illumination for everyday life.
For those stuck in ego, read this book.
For those stuck in enlightenment, read this book.
It offers a pathway not only of deep liberation but of liberating laughter at our own ridiculous delusions too.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Spunk Monkey on April 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will take this opportunity to voice a few criticisms I have of the book but before I do so I need to make clear that these criticisms are not of the Big Mind Process but of "the book." I have not had the opportunity to be personally taken through the Big Mind Process and would certainly enjoy the chance were it made available. Many of the reviews here seem to be of the Process itself but I am reviewing the book.

#1) Although the book is, I would say, an ok introduction to the Big Mind Process (it is only ok because it utilizes the sort of soft, fuzzy language authors sometimes use when they want to walk fine lines and either not offend anyone or appeal to everyone), the issue here is that someone reading this book cannot implement the Big Mind Process individually in their own home by themselves -- in order for the Big Mind Process to work, one needs a facilitator. Just one person cannot play both roles of the facilitator and answerer at the same time. This means that, having read this book, you will have to find someone who can take you through the process which probably means going to a Big Mind retreat. I was under the vague assumption when I bought the book that it would be possible to perform the Big Mind Process by one's self in the privacy of one's own home, but, even if it is possible, this book does not explain how this could be done and, frankly, doing solo Big Mind just does not seem possible. Therefore, this book is more like a facilitator's guide than a personal self-help manual. After reading it, you are actually somewhat more prepared to do Big Mind on someone else than yourself.

2) I think that the book may even be harmful to someone wanting to engage personally in the Big Mind Process. At least certain elements of the Big Mind Process may be hurt. Why?
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