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Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (March 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861715535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861715534
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is an exceptional work, majestic in its scope and clarity. Barry Magid presents a mature vision and he does it with utmost care and intelligence. I really loved this book." (Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Psychotherapy without the Self)

About the Author

Barry Magid is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York City, and the founding teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo, also in New York. He is the author of the Wisdom titles Ordinary Mind and Ending the Pursuit of Happiness.

More About the Author

Barry Magid is a psychoanalyst and Zen teacher whose life and work have been on the forefront of a movement to integrate Western psychology with Eastern spiritual practices. He teaches at the Ordinary Mind Zendo in New York City. OMZ is part of the Ordinary Mind Zen School, a network of independent Zen centers established by Charlotte Joko Beck and her Dharma Successors in 1995.
After graduating from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1975, he completed his training in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in New York City at Roosevelt Hospital and The Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, where he became a training and supervising analyst. His primary psychoanalytic orientation was Self Psychology, the school founded by Heinz Kohut. In 1993 he edited Freud's Case Studies: Self Psychological Perspectives. He has also served on the board of The International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP).
While he was training as a psychoanalyst, he also began Zen training, first under Eido Shimano Roshi and later with Bernie Tetsugen Glassman. Later he met and trained with Charlotte Joko Beck, the Dharma heir of Taizan Maezumi Roshi and founder of her own Ordinary Mind School of Zen. In 1996, Joko Beck gave him permission to establish The Ordinary Mind Zendo, where he became the founding teacher and in 1998, he received Dharma transmission, which gave him full authorization to teach Zen independently.
Magid has published numerous articles and three books on the integration of psychoanalysis and Zen: Ordinary Mind: Exploring the Common Ground of Zen and Psychoanalysis (2002), Ending the Pursuit of Happiness (2008) and Nothing is Hidden:The Psychology of Zen Koans (2013)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
His writing is clear and unambiguous, and very easy to read.
Tad Sullivan
“By and large, there continues to exist within the overall Zen community an idealized picture of monastic practice.
Peter King
Ending the Pursuit of Happiness is a fabulous, direct, inspired, articulate, accessible work.
Dustin G. Rhodes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Dustin G. Rhodes VINE VOICE on April 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the 15 or so years that I've been interested in Buddhism, I couldn't begin to tell you how many books I've read on the subject. I've come to believe that they all basically say the same thing, but that doesn't mean that some aren't better than others. Truth be told: there are plenty of books by Buddhist teachers that are a complete mess--not to mention a waste of time. Fortunately, this isn't one of them.

There's something about Charlotte Joko Beck, who is Magid's teacher, that is quite refreshing to me. I have found Joko Beck's two books, and the books of another of her students, Ezra Bayda, very useful. She has a non-sense style and an emphasis on the fact that Zen is not a means of escape (which is all I have ever really wanted from spiritual practice). Barry Magid takes this same theme and runs with it--presenting it with a new clarity and insight.

Magid, a psychoanalyst and Zen teacher, presents a bull****-free version of practice that emphasizes real life experience--not the aspiration to a higher state of consciousness. Much of what we come to spritual practice to find is imaginary, according to Magid---and I think this is something we can't hear enough: coming to practice might ultimately be transformative, but it won't change the "ordinariness" of our lives. I can think of no better book to guide us to this simple, yet quite profound truth.

Ending the Pursuit of Happiness is a fabulous, direct, inspired, articulate, accessible work. For those interested in Buddhism, and Zen in particular, I can't recommend it highly enough.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Anderson on March 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Hsin-hsin Ming famously wrote, "the Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences." All too often this has been interpreted in American Zen as requiring an emotional neutering with the student supposedly developing the ability to be unaffected by external events. Dr. Magid's great contribution to practice, and that of the Ordinary Mind School generally, is to point out that demands for particular emotional states are no different than demands for specific external conditions, and the Great Way is attached to neither. Or more particularly, through proper Zen practice the individual slowly and at times painfully develops the capacity to hold both external events and internal emotional states without being fully caught by either. Dr. Magid bravely goes against the current barrage of books promising happiness ever after and shows how suffering is inherent in that very pursuit. He does not promise happiness so this book will never be sold at the grocery store check-out counter. Rather he shows the path available to all of us to open to the joy of the very life we have. No candy here. All meat.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By No one in particular on May 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an exceptional practice-related book. Barry Magid clearly articulates his thoughts that our emotions and their underpinnings are not separate, or to be discarded, in our practice. He makes very clear the point that pursuits to be other than we are, even when these pursuits fit an ideal Zen or personal image, lead us away from the reality of who/how we are now. However, he is able to incorporate the purpose of action in a useful way. Certainly, other books revolve around the topic of `be here, now, regardless of what comes up,' but none I've read comes close to making this topic more alive than Magid's book.

Although I don't think my teacher has to be my analyst (he does not necessarily advocate this) or that I necessarily need an analyst at all (if he doesn't advocate this, it is because he does not know me), I am left with the impression that North Americans are more psychologically weighted down than the rest of the world. Maybe we should be given our projection of anger, guilt, violence, etc. around the world, but I am not quite convinced of this idea. I don't know if he believes this or if it is more the Ordinary Mind School's incorporation of psychology in seeking the best `Zen fit' for those of us in the states.

If Charolette Joko Beck's teachings struck a chord with you, so will this book. No doubt this is one of those books you can read and re-read and benefit at each sitting. This is one of the best practice books I have read.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Victor Von Der Heyde on February 4, 2009
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This book has some wonderfully clear analyses of what happens in Buddhist and particularly Zen practice. I've read numerous books on practice over the years and to my mind this covers some areas I haven't seen covered like this before: on the play of the ordinary and the special in our lives and practice, understanding how so many teachers abuse their positions, how Zen is evolving in the West.

Apart from his psychoanalytic background, Magid brings in his knowledge of Western philosophers and this gives parts of the book an intellectual flavor which may not appeal to everyone.

Given that much of the book is clear and grounded with fresh perspectives, it was a surprise to see Magid sum up the First Noble Truth as "Life is Suffering". This is an unfortunate mistake, particularly for a book published in 2008. Many Buddhist teachers in recent years have been trying to counter the myth that this is what the Buddha said. It is simply not found in the (Theravada) suttas. One big mistake like that casts a bit of a shadow on the book but because some of the other material is so good, it still gets four stars from me.

I wouldn't recommend it to students new to meditation (I've taught Buddhist meditation for over a decade) but it would be on my recommended list of books for people who've been practicing a few years.
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