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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living Paperback – December 11, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

As an adult who leads a busy life, you have to deal with the stresses of home, work, and family. The Buddhist idea of Zen seeks to help you reduce stress so that you can remain calm when conflicts arise. This book begins with the basics, telling you what Zen is and how you can use it to deal with the situations that come up in your fast-paced life.

About the Author

Gary R. McClain, Ph.D., is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Breaking Bad Habits and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living. He is a counselor who brings 25 years of experience as a psychologist, educator, and business professional into incorporating the wellness benefits of holistic practices into a Western lifestyle.

Eve Adamson is a veteran pet writer with hundreds of published articles and is contributing editor to Dog Fancy. She is also co-author of several books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide  to Yoga Illustrated, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation, and Empowering Your Life with Joy.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (November 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028639588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028639581
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,597,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Campbell on July 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been studying Zen off and on for years but was continually frustrated by the relentless obscurantism. On several occasions I asked questions on Zen newsgroups and was disappointed when people would answer my questions with riddles. Also, when I asked a Zen Roshi to answer some questions (even offering to pay him for his time) I found myself railroaded into taking his beginner's course a second time! I began to suspect that there are a lot of people out there who are so attached to some FORM of Zen that they have lost the ability to communicate the essentials in a compelling manner. They asked me, in effect, to "just have faith", perhaps inspired by their reports of bliss.
Sorry, but I've been there, done that! If you can't explain your valuable insight without a modicum of understanding of who I am and what I can grasp, then I'm not interested.
That's why I found "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living" (hereinafter TCIGTZL), so very refreshing. While I'm sure that some Zen purists will scoff, I was happy to have some perplexing questions answered. For example, I once asked on a Zen newsgroup, "What is the benefit of Zen? Why should I entrust the next 20 years of my life to some teacher whose qualifications I'm not able to assess?" In response, I got a lot of Zentastic blathering. It was as if they were trying to teach somebody calculus before arithmetic.
TCIGTZL, on the other hand, lays out the benefits quite clearly. I fail to see the harm in that; the authors carefully explain the "goaless goal" aspect of Zen, so there should be little danger of readers striving to attain and cling to those benefits.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hochmann on December 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Many books on Zen fall into one of two categories: the "jump on the cool buzzword bandwagon" books that really have nothing to do with Zen, and the very dry and overly rigid books that are filled with many words and yet very little that a person would find helpful in everyday life. I am pleased to say this book falls into neither of those categories, and instead fits into a more enjoyable one: the kind of book that helps you learn to live better.
This is not a book about Zen history, or extensive rules for how to "properly" meditate. As the title states, this is a book about Zen *living*. It is like a flash light, which you can shine into the darkest corners of your mind and use as a guide to simplifying the psychological and emotional clutter therein. The authors have filled this book with many practical examples of how a Zen perspective can ease your mental burden and allow you to get more out of each moment.
If you're looking for lots of dry, philosophical blather, this is not the book for you. But if you are genuinely interested in gaining a new perspective on life, and learning how simple it can be to live in a more satisfying way, you've definitely come to the right place. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to clean out the dusty attic of the mind.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Todd Buster Paris on December 22, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, I'm aware of the irony here of preconceived notions and Zen, although I've been pleasantly surprised with a good result.
The Complete Idiot's Guide To Zen Living is a great introduction to Zen. It's easy to read, entertaining and engaging. It also presents itself as a great follow through or next step as to living Zen.
Depending on what you're looking for regarding Zen. This book gives you an overview of Buddhism with a quick 5 cent tour and with wit, humor and a sense of familiarity introduces you to Zen, Zen terms, Zen thought and a Zen perspective regarding life, home, work and family.
Another reviewer had mentioned that so many other books on Zen don't really "explain" Zen in the Western sense of the word. I've notice that too - it's like you're not in on the inside joke - or something like that. This book explains Zen and explains it well without the sense of you not being in on the joke. It's not just a collection of koans or an illustration of Zen through stories. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying that those stories or illustrations through tales are bad. For me I find them difficult as an introduction and after reading this book I actually want to continue my Zen path through those very tales and stories.
I got a lot out of this book and enjoyed reading it. It's a great introduction to Zen and more.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bob P. on March 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book clearly explains many Zen principles and shows applications to everyday life. It is an excellent first book for people getting interested in Zen. For me (I've been practicing for about a year), it was also a good book to show more examples of applying Zen. It demystifies Zen, and discusses how things (like planning) that can seem contradictory to Zen really aren't a problem.
Finally, the title of the book is great: It shows that the authors really get Zen. It's NOT the guide to understanding zen, or to learning zen; it's the guide to Zen LIVING.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By T West on November 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a great place to start for beginers of a Zen way of living. Its to the point. Zen living is covered for every aspect of your life. The authors put much time into making the basic understanding of Zen very easy to comprehend. Numerous ideas and excercises really put you into an understanding of what is wrong,why it's wrong and how to fix it through a Zen way of living. From work to creativity to just walking down the street this book will help.
Now I feel I can expand my Zen life style having learned the basic's. In the now.
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