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Zen Meditation in Plain English Paperback – June 15, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The jolt of confidence you get when discussing a day's performance with a seasoned veteran can take any activity to a higher level. In his concise and informative Zen Meditation in Plain English, meditation veteran John Daishin Buksbazen gives detailed directions for each step of Zen-style meditation, from getting into the different postures and developing breath concentration, all the way up to intensive training periods. With only one short chapter on what the mind should be doing while "sitting" (as they say in Zen), his focus is on getting the fundamentals right. He also offers a rare introduction to the importance and mechanics of group practice and a well-selected "Frequently Asked Questions" section at the end. While Buksbazen repeatedly says that there is no substitute for a good teacher, until you find one, Zen Meditation in Plain English will do nicely. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

Buksbazen, a psychotherapist who was ordained a Zen priest in 1968 and is affiliated with the Zen Center of Los Angeles, offers practical and down-to-earth advice about the specifics of Zen meditation. He begins by encouraging readers to get involved with meditation and not just read books about Buddhism: "After all, cookbooks are fun to read, but... they are most helpful to somebody who is actually involved in cooking." The bulk of this short primer is concerned with introducing the basics of zazen, or seated meditation: how to position the body, particularly the legs; how and when to breathe; what to think about. Helpful diagrams illustrate the full lotus, Burmese, kneeling (seiza) and other positions. Buksbazen even provides a "zazen checklist" to help beginners remember all of the steps involved in zazen, which as he notes is more difficult than it appears. What distinguishes this book from any number of Zen self-help books is its final section, which focuses on community. Arguing that "true Zen practice cannot be fully experienced in all its diversity and richness by just one person alone," Buksbazen builds a strong case for the powerful effect of being involved with a community of other practitioners. He follows this ideological argument with concrete information about group practice, including meditation retreats and other intensive training periods. In all, this is a fine introduction to Zen meditation practice, grounded in tradition yet adapted to contemporary life.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 1 edition (June 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861713168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861713165
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J Buckley on March 30, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been a blessing for me. My organization provides a prison outreach program for inmates,who want to learn meditation,and this is the guide we will be putting in their hands. Daishin has provided the tools that any person, beginner or experienced practioner can use. His list of Frequently Asked Questions addresses those points that some people may feel shy in asking and his illustrations of sitting positions and exercises are most useful When you read the book, you feel he is talking directly to you. His use of quotes from his teacher, the late Maezumi Roshi,brings a deeper understanding of what Zen and the practice of meditation is all about. If you could only choose one book on meditation, I would advise you to give this one serious consideration.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "samydunn" on April 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Honestly, I have never seen a better book on the pracitce of zazen, the Zen Buddhist meditation. This book is not only a practical guide to the (deceptively) simple process of sitting still, breathing and clearing your mind, it's inspiration itself--and just a plain good read. Buksbazen has written one of those books you can open to any page and find something relevent for the moment you are in. I find myself returning to this slim guide again and again. Highly recommended.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eric P. Neff on May 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Zen has a built in feature that makes it a little difficult to fathom at first. Those who have been practicing a while have developed enough insight that they see things a different way and therefore communicate in a different way. This communication is defined by a lilting, flowery and (in my view) often opaque use of language. The rest of us have a hard time figuring out just what the heck they're talking about. Unfortunately, in order for we "have-nots" to get it, we need some useful instruction from the "haves". This communication gap, if you will, can interfere with the learning process.
The title of this book implies an effort to bridge the gap and Buksbazen does a laudable job of delivering the goods. Don't expect an intellectual tour de force. That's not what it's about. Rather, this book is merely a short, simple, plainly-stated guide to getting started with "just sitting". The book is divided into three sections. The first provides a brief history of the Zen movement in Buddhism. The second, the heart of the book, provides some practical advice for the most basic form of Zen meditation, breath counting. The final section gives you some practical advice on continuing your practice within the "meditative community", an essential facet of meditative practice.
I especially appreciated the author's assurance that Zen is not as inaccessible as it might seem to us beginners. Don't worry, he says in effect, just start practicing and as you get better at settling your mind, you will begin to understand more and more. It will take some time and effort, but it will come. If you're looking for a book on different forms of meditation or a discourse on Zen practice, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for an easy "Getting Started:" manual, you might want to give this book a try.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nena Davis on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be delightful. Fresh and direct, with a simplicity and straightforwardness, the author lays the foundation for a clear understanding of what we're about when we meditate. He removes any doubt or anxiety that a beginner might have about their technique, and lays to rest any fears we may have that we'll look silly and inept in a room of practiced professionals. Most of all, he gives us the knowledge that enables us to sit confidently.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2002
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This book does an admirable job of explaining the fundamentals of Zen meditation. There are many, many good books out now that include some discussion of meditation technique, but usually that's as a part of a larger discussion of Buddhism and Buddhist thought, and the mechanics of meditation often get inadequate attention. With this book, the reader will get a solid introduction to meditation, sufficient to get actual practice off to a good start. I would not be surprised if it becomes a classic in the field. Very well done.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lim Yen Yong on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is practical guide for beginners who are interested in

meditation. It shows the precise way to sit. The supplementary exercises written in the appendices are indeed very useful. It limbers up and allows one to sit longer. Secondly, it is written in simple English. Anyone who does not have a glossary of Buddhist Terminology can understand. Thirdly, it teaches one to be aware and mindful - sitting is just sitting; be it a "good" or "hard" sitting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacobo on August 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
It's a 101 book, for very beginners. I'm not a total beginner, although I just started reading more consistently about Zen buddhism, and this book is a little too basic for me. I find it not as compelling as the other one I'm reading at the same time, "Taking the path of Zen", by Robert Aitken. Both books are very clear about one essential thing though: Zen is about practicing and nobody can do it for you, you need to find out by yourself what fits you best. These books help you find out, they give you key principles, advice, and a taste of the spirit of Zen (especially Aitken's in my opinion). They are a complement to the practice, not the other way around.
I would recommend, for total beginners, to maybe start with this book and read Aitken's right after, or read both at the same time. Another great book to grasp the spirit of Zen is Eugen Herrigel's "Zen in the Art of Archery". All 3 books are very short and simple. The first 2 can be read partially, as guides or manuals. Herrigel's has a narrative form, he tells his own experience as a Zen student and takes you with him on his beautiful and transformative journey.
Needless to say that none of these books are "religious", they don't profess any particular faith, even if they can describe the cultural and historical background of buddhism.
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