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Everything Is the Way: Ordinary Mind Zen Paperback – June 12, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590309723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590309728
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“As I read Genmyo Elihu Smith’s book, I heard in his voice echoes of the voices of his teachers, Soen Roshi, Maezumi Roshi, and Joko Beck. And yet, Genmyo’s voice is his own, a voice imbued with confidence about the unique benefits of practice and its relevance to the difficulties of ordinary life. Reading this book is like having a Zen teacher appear in your living room, warm, wise and intimate.”—Jan Chozen Bays, author of Mindful Eating and How to Train a Wild Elephant

“This is a text to digest and inhale, as you would the presence of someone facing you. Inspired by his long and intimate study with some of the greatest Zen teachers of our time, Genmyo comments skillfully on a range of Zen koans and teachings, bringing each, always, to his one insistent point: Zen practice is not at all difficult. It is allowing the awareness that we truly are.”—Zoketsu Norman Fischer, founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation, author of Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up

“This astonishing collection of essays succeeds in its mission to show us how everything is the Way. Here you will find cogent insights into practice, impermanence, non-self, being transparency, and receiving the precepts.”—SpiritualityandPractice.com

“Revelatory for the Buddhist practitioner; fluent and fascinating for the general reader. Smith has written a fine and well-controlled book on his own experience and the fundamental truths of the Zen approach to Buddhist understanding and life.”—Library Journal

About the Author

Elihu Genmyo Smith is the resident teacher of the Prairie Zen Center in Champaign, Illinois, and one of the co-founders, with Charlotte Joko Beck, of the Ordinary Mind Zen School, whose teachers include such well-known Zen authors as Diane Rizzetto, Ezra Bayda, and Elizabeth Hamilton, as well as Barry Magid. Genmyo has practiced Zen for around thirty-five years, beginning as a student of Soen Nakagawa and Eido Tai Shimano, then he trained with Maezumi Roshi, who ordained him, and then with Charlotte Joko Beck. He was her first dharma heir, and remains close to her. He teaches extensively around the Midwest/Chicago area, though he ventures beyond that as well. He's also associated with Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers. He blogs on "current events, books, and random themes" on his blog Clouds (clouds-genmyo.blogspot.com).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cindy Cuccia on July 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this excellent book, Genmyo offers sincere encouragement for Zen practice. His words point the reader to the simple practice of being life as it is. Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to notice the belief that life needs to be different and the suffering that results from holding on to this belief.

The book includes material adapted from dharma talks as well as other essays amd is divided into 5 parts: Practice, Impermanence, Nonself, On Being Transparency, and Jukai, 3 Treasures and 3 Precepts. Throughout the book, Genmyo draws on experiences with his own teachers: Soen Roshi, Maezumi Roshi, and Joko Beck. Included in the first three sections of the book are some discussions of various Zen koans, including the author's description of his personal experiences of working with Mu.

Genmyo's consistent instruction to the reader to not take his words as something to understand or hold onto is genuine. When reading this book, I found that his words did not set up some new ideal for me to achieve but continually pointed me back to my own experience and life. I read the piece titled "One Bright Pearl" at a time when my mind was spinning with plans and plots of how things "needed" to go that day. As I read, I noticed a sense of relaxation and ease replace the bodily tension I had been feeling.

I appreciated Genmyo's decision to share some of his own personal experiences, making it clear to the reader that his encouragement is solidly grounded in his own experience and life practice.

I found this book to be a wonderfully encouraging support.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By EdMushin on June 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure. First, I have been a student of Genmyo for 12 years and, second, I was privileged to assist him in a small way with this book. That said, if you have an interest in Zen practice, this book is a must. I've read many books on Zen and few are as direct and to the point as this one. But that is the nature of his teaching and a result of his practice. We hear a lot about "Zen", what it is and how to practice it, but this book points directly at the heart of the matter. In no uncertain terms Genmyo clearly shows us that Zen is not about some mystical experience or special state of mind (which are fine to have) but about this life, yours and mine, exactly as it is, right here, right now. One of Genmyo's favorite phrases is "keep it simple". In dokusan (private meetings with the teacher) he will use this phrase to bring you back to Earth, especially when you are trying to impress him with your "insights". Nice word, "insight", looking inward, seeing inside. This book encourages us to look inside and notice the habits and beliefs that cloud our vision of the True Nature that is our life and includes everything. In noticing, the clouds dissipate of themselves and we realize that Everything is the Way.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Delinda Chapman on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Knowing Elihu Genmyo Smith as a teacher and guide has been life changing. His writing this book allows many others to benefit from his words. Genmyo's direct approach to life and living explodes in "Everything is the Way" as he leads us in knowing what living in the moment is all about. I had been told his new book, "Everything is the Way," was a collection of his Dharma talks, but I have found it to be much, much more. I honestly believe it to be one of the best books on Buddhism I have read surpassing even his teachers' works.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven McCabe on June 27, 2012
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As the title of this book suggests, everything is the way, though from our limited point of view some "things" appear to be more so. That is true for this collection of dharma talks by Elihu Genmyo Smith. Genmyo's teaching itself is the Way and includes a long, illustrious list of teachers from Soen Nakagawa Roshi and Eido Shimano Roshi, to Hakuyu Maezumi Roshi, and finally to Charlotte Joko Beck. This book embodies these venerable masters within Genmyo's presentation of the Buddhadharma. One of his favorite sayings is "straightforward and simple," which is usually uttered just before or after a statement that seems anything but. Then he is likely to ask "What do you say?" And there you encounter your life as "understanding," "confusion," or "frustration." But remember what Genmyo says: "I write these words not because you have to agree or figure them out, but rather to encourage us to do what we each can do as our life." Reading, reflecting on these talks, will support you as you encounter everything, which is exactly our life.
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