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94 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A non-religous way to find a Higher Power and recover
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...
Published on May 21, 1999 by Paulette Cullen

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
It is possible to get very gung-ho about Mel Ash's ZEN OF RECOVERY. I am not gung-ho about it, but the book does something which no other book I am aware of has achieved, made a sincere and plausible link between 12-step principles and Buddhist principles. Unfortunately, the book's Buddhism is Zen, only one of many different Buddhist paths. Thus the book lacks a certain...
Published on March 20, 2002


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94 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A non-religous way to find a Higher Power and recover, May 21, 1999
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (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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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Sober Finger Pointing at The Moon, August 18, 1998
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This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (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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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True zen!, December 25, 2004
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (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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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent & Insightful, August 31, 2004
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This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
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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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, March 20, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
It is possible to get very gung-ho about Mel Ash's ZEN OF RECOVERY. I am not gung-ho about it, but the book does something which no other book I am aware of has achieved, made a sincere and plausible link between 12-step principles and Buddhist principles. Unfortunately, the book's Buddhism is Zen, only one of many different Buddhist paths. Thus the book lacks a certain universalism that I find unfortunate. However, it is well worth reading, if nothing else serving as a jumping-off point for investigating Buddhism (or the Buddha) as one's higher power. Any Buddhist who is in Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step program is well advised to read this book. It will help one get past the bloc that I felt in 12-step programs, which in Western society are predicated upon Christianity or Judaism. ZEN OF RECOVERY reinforced in me the belief that I had a place in 12-step meetings, even though I did not believe in a God as defined in any theistic sense. Aside from the above caveats, this book is a radical step forward in the recovery movement.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for recovering addicts ... but all of us, August 23, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
I am not a recovering alcoholic, victim of sexual abuse, sufferer of post-war trauma, or any other malady to which "recovery" can be applied. Nevertheless, I found Mel Ash's book to be loaded with insight which can be applied again and again to the challenges of ANYBODY'S life. Maybe everyone is "recovering" to some degree. Life just has a way of throwing challenges at us. While written from the perspective of a recovering alcoholic, this book is recommended highly for any person who simply seeks to reach a deeper meaning in life. I keep coming back to inspirational passages, such as the one where Mel describes a beautiful scene of a bird landing on the head of a Buddha statue. Then the bird craps on the statue's head. Not to worry, rain later washes it all away. Ash tells us the simple lesson: "Things happen. Things pass." Just one example of the sane and sensible insight here.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastic book, October 22, 2004
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
As a person with an addictive nature I cannot speak highly enough about this book - it is lovely! I want to buy copies for everyone I know - whether they are in recovery or not. As for the review saying, "any zen book can give you principles to quit drinking..." I don't think the purpose of this book was to stop ppl from drinking, but rather: to accompany ppl who may already struggle w/ a higher power w/in the twelve steps. I suspect that most ppl reconnect with themselves AFTER moving into the program and encounter obstacles along the way. For me, this book acts as a liason between the twelve steps and my internal obstacles.

Mel Ash's interpretation of the twelve steps is insightful and in no way contradictory to the program. His writing voice is simple and easy to follow; we are a culture who live in fear and this book delicately encourages those of us in recovery to find our bliss. When you see a flower, SMILE. The teachings are so simple - Enjoy!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting Through Craving, December 27, 2007
By 
wahzoh "wahzoh" (North Hollywood, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
I have given away several copies of this book, and own one of my own, which I enjoy re-reading. Many people struggling with addictions also have difficulty with Alcoholics Anonymous' emphasis on a "higher power" (generally conceived as "God"). This book serves the important function of introducing a non-theistic (non-"God"-based) approach to AA, and to a personal meditative practice.

This book serves as a sort of "bridge" between Zen Buddhism (admittedly only one school, but Zen is the form which is practiced by author Mel Ash) and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The book is organized in a way which mirrors the 12 Steps, and, as a result, it is easily accessible for people who are involved with that program. In other words, you don't need to know anything about Zen to get value from this book, but you do need to have at least a healthy respect for the 12 Steps as a path of recovery from addiction.

"The Zen of Recovery" begins as a standard AA speaker meeting would - the author gives us his "drunkalogue" - a story of what he was like before he got sober- his trials and his humiliations. At the same time as he decide to stop drinking, the author also begins to practice zazen under a meditation instructor (zazen being the style of silent seated meditation practiced by Zen Buddhists). As a result, the author's perspective on the 12 Steps is colored by his growth as a Zen Buddhist.

Author Mel Ash applies the teachings of Zen Buddhism not just to alcoholism, but to all addictions and cravings - the attachments which Buddhism says are at the root of all suffering. The book is therefore useful not only for alcoholics, but for anyone in the throes of a compulsive craving.

I also really enjoyed the spare and elegant Japanese ink-brush drawings with which Ash illustrated the book. That's just me - I always like a book with pictures.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bait and switch ? ? ? ?, June 18, 2013
By 
Guy Lamunyon (Aliso Viejo, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
I thought I was buying a book which would talk about recovery from a Buddhist perspective. Instead this is a 12 STEP book which talks a bit about Buddhism. This book is not helpful if you are seeking a 12 STEP alternative.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen of Recovery, June 16, 2009
This review is from: The Zen of Recovery (Paperback)
The Zen of Recovery is the current book that my Buddhist-12 Step gathering is studying. It arrived in excellent condition, although it was used.

Very well written.
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The Zen of Recovery
The Zen of Recovery by Mel Ash (Paperback - January 6, 1993)
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