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The Zen of Recovery Paperback – January 6, 1993


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The Zen of Recovery + The Tao of Sobriety: Helping You to Recover from Alcohol and Drug Addiction + One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 1 edition (January 6, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874777062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874777062
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mel Ash is a writer, artist, and teacher/performer with a lifelong interest in transformative experience, cultural change, and consciousness. A former authorized Zen teacher in an Asian tradition, he has taught workshops nationally on Zen, Beat spirituality, and alternative psychology.

Present during many cultural shifts, he attended Woodstock as a young teenager, worked at a punk rock paper in the eighties, and is currently active in contemporary alt. culture, exploring the cultural dimensions of spiritual action.

In addition to Shaving the Inside of Your Skull, he is also the author and illustrator of The Zen of Recovery (1993) and Beat Spirit (both published by Tarcher/Putnam). He is currently researching and working on his new book.

He is active in Providence's First Unitarian Church, lives with Sarah Owens-Ash, a Boston radio personality, his two sons, many cats, one newt (no, NOT THAT ONE!), and occasional wayfarers in Providence's "International Neighborhood."

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Customer Reviews

This is a very good book for anybody in recovery, no matter what from.
S. Bianco
This book gives addicts and alcoholics a whole new way of enlightenment through their path of recovery.
Sherry Gaba
Mel Ash's Book showed me how there is no conflict between Zen Buddhism and 12 Step Recovery.
Michael Palumbaro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Paulette Cullen on May 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I reread "Zen" every few months. It's the perfect companion book to the Basic Text and It Works How and Why.
Besides breaking down the 12 steps in a way that's more easily understood, Mel Ash relates each one to Zen. Although 12-step recovery is touted as simple, it isn't for a lot of new people. Coming into the program an Athiest, I had tremendous angst over how I would be able to work the steps and remain free from active addiction. I knew honesty was important but I didn't know how I could be. I was told I needed to find a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity which I thought had to be your God. The Zen of Recovery showed me how to find a "God" of my own understanding. I'm truly grateful to have this book as an ongoing resource as my recovery unfolds.
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61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By rdean1@home.com on August 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
I usually only read a book once. I almost never buy more than one copy of a book. With "The Zen of Recovery" I have broken both rules. I read Mel Ash's take on recovery twice over when I first bought it three years ago. The two times I loaned out the book, I never got them back because the borrowers kept passing it on to other people. I had to repurchase it each time. I bought a copy for my Zen instructor. She liked it so much she passed it on other people at the Zen Center. I bought a fourth copy which I am hanging onto for myself. Every couple of years I re-read it again. "The Zen of Recovery" is that kind of book.
When Mel Ash described how most of us treat our present lives like a cheap motel where we are staying until we move on to something better, I was hooked. He parallels the differences and the many similarities between Zen and 12-step programs. In the chapter "What is Zen", he defines Zen as the "ultimate and original recovery program. It exposes our denial of true self and shows us how we've suffered because of our diseases of attachment, judgment, and division." He identifies Alan Watts as the "unknowing founder" of the Zen of Recovery and Bill W., the founder of AA, as an American bodhisattva.
This book, however, gives more than just a new perspective on some old ideas. Mel Ash takes the recovery concepts of craving, suffering, denial, and ignorance and expands them to consider concepts such as ego-addiction, the challenge of uncovering our true natures and of healing the planet ("the world is need of recovery").
A good read!!!
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Samsara on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mel Ash, using Zen as the spiritual component, adapts the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and zens it up. It's easy to swallow for me because the emphasis is not singularly recovery from alcoholism but also eating disorders, narcotic addiction, etc. The reading is gentle and doesn't underestimate or devalue the audience with sterile language. It gets awfully real world and how we can intermingle our recovery into our lives, which is what I wanted when I entered into recovery.

He talks a lot about how our denial *is* our sickness...from the 12 steps perspective and from the Zen perspective; that even those not in a compulsion may still suffer simply from the predisposed human condition. He speaks of our *dualistic* thinking [good/bad, right/wrong, black/white] as the manifestation of our human condition and more to the extent of our compulsions... How we in our compulsions/addictions are the magnification of the human suffering condition...just to the extreme.

This book is compassionate, intelligent, and worthy of top shelf status. It does not interfere with one's religious views but can enhance anyone's recovery. For me, this book, is what I have been searching for; the combined 12 steps with a spiritual component I can relate to. I really enjoy this book and know it will be favored by me in years to come, as it's more of a living philosophy within recovery and without.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Brian J. Demascio on December 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a "recovering alcoholic", I have had MUCH trouble within and without the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous when people find out that I am a Buddhist skeptic who does not believe in the idea of a deity called "god". As a practicioner of Zen, I am pleased to see that Mr. Ash has a solid grip of the "Zen of recovery".

Those who criticize the book for being "too Zen" as opposed to other Buddhist traditions should have read the title, "The Zen of Recovery", before they bought it! How much so like the average A.A. member, complaining about things that are relatively silly.

This book spells out Buddhist detachment and the idea of a "power" that can "restore us to sanity", applying it skillfully to the 12 Step Tradition in the process. Most of what is IN the book has already been reviewed here, so let me end by saying that first of all, I don't go to a bunch of A.A. meetings anymore because of the culture of whining, glorification of the alcoholic history, and closed-mindedness towards any idea of "a power greater than ourselves" that isn't an anthropomorphic "god". However, I DO go to three meetings a meet where the envirenment is condusive to a true "spirituality", and I am definately going to be ordering many copies of this book to distribute to my many A.A. "peers" who actively criticize my "agnostic beliefs" and consider Zen to be a path towards relapse.

Get this book if you can relate to anything I have just written, adn especially if you are interested in Asian spirituality as an alternative to the Judeao/Christian approach most often endorsed by the loving members of Alcoholics Anonymous!

Good work, Mr. Ash.
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