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Ten Zen Questions 1st Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1851686421
ISBN-10: 1851686428
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I do recommend this book both to Susan Blackmore's many admirers and her detractors." --Journal of Consciousness Studies

Review

"It should be compulsory reaeding for anyone in consciousness studies and certainly on every psychology course."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 1 edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851686428
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851686421
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,738,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Blackmore's Ten Zen Questions is extraordinary. I say this even though she is not a Buddhist, hasn't joined any Buddhist orders, hasn't adopted any religious beliefs, nor taken any formal vows. Zen meditation appealed to her, beginning in the 1970's, because "Zen does not demand that you believe anything or have blind faith". She eventually realized that Zen meditation was compatible with her being a psychologist, and would be an aid to her primary study, consciousness, because, "like science, Zen demands that you ask questions, and overthrow any ideas that don't fit with what you find out". (pg3)

Blackmore gives a direct personal account of her exploration of Ten "Zen" Questions; Am I conscious now?, What was I conscious of a moment ago?, Who is asking the question?, Where is this?, How does thought arise?, There is no time. What is memory?, When are you?, Are you here now?, What am I doing?, and, What happens next? Now, quite frankly, I don't know if her word by word report would be tedious to someone who hasn't tried to meditate, or who hasn't formerly asked these types of questions, but I was thoroughly fascinated. (And, this is not the whole of the book. Her transition from her story to exact descriptions, is...effortless).

Susan has a perfect blend between an account of "Zen", and what consciousness is from a psychological perspective. No one should be scared away by Zen in the title. She shares times alone meditating in her own garden as well as week long retreats with her Zen teacher and other students over many years. We see her progress, from her own understanding as well as acknowledgment, in certain respects, from her teacher.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is about the problem of consciousness and how the practice of Zen Buddhism as experienced by Dr. Blackmore relates to that problem. She is a UK-based psychologist and author of, most notably, The Meme Machine (1999) in which she lends considerable support to Richard Dawkins' notion of the meme as a Darwinian mechanism of culture.

This is a more personal book. It's a bit self-indulgent as Blackmore takes us to her garden and her meditation shed and back through her Zen retreat experiences in a kind of experiential way without really coming to any more than a series of purely personal insights. The book also suffers from a failure to clearly define "consciousness." Perhaps Blackmore has defined consciousness so many times before and has grown weary of doing so again, or perhaps she thinks we all know what consciousness means more or less. Or, more likely, she believes that the meaning of consciousness will emerge through a reading of this book, the idea being that by asking these ten Zen questions one will be lead to an understanding of consciousness--or at least to an understanding of why consciousness is such a conundrum.

Blackmore graciously lets her Zen master, John Crook, have the last word in the form of a letter to her after he read a draft copy of her book. His response comes under the heading of what I like to call "sometimes it is best to just quote them."

Some observations:

The Zen questions themselves, e.g., "Am I conscious now?"; "Who is asking the question?"; "How does thought arise?" etc., become Zen koans as Blackmore grapples with them.
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By Trong Nguyen on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Zen has little connection to the author's speculative thoughts. One day, when the discursive fluctuations will cease...
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