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239 of 248 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen in plain English, October 27, 2000
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This review is from: Everyday Zen: Love & Work (Paperback)
This is one of my favorite books on Zen. Charlotte Joko Beck was the founder and resident Zen teacher of the Zen Center of San Diego, and "Everyday Zen" is a collection of her talks. Joko speaks about Zen in an ordinary, conversational, down-to-earth way--as opposed to the paradoxical, poetic, non-logical style often found in Zen--and she explicitly relates Zen to everyday life. For Joko, Zen is about being OK with everything, an OK-ness that does not imply fatalism, passivity, or an absence of feelings. She says: "For something to be OK, it doesn't mean that I don't scream or cry or protest or hate it. . . . What _is_ the enlightened state? When there is no longer any separation between myself and the circumstances of my life, whatever they may be, that is it."

While this book is a good one for newcomers to Zen--and for old-timers too--it does not include nitty-gritty beginning instruction in Zen meditation, so for that you'll need to look elsewhere. (I'd recommend the book "The Three Pillars of Zen," the video "The Secret Is There Are No Secrets," or a Zen center.)

This is not the best Zen book for everyone. When you're in a swamp of existential angst, desperately wanting to know that peace and joy can be found within this fleeting life so full of suffering--exactly the issues Zen addresses--Joko's "everyday" approach can be exasperating and can seem not to address those issues, and you might prefer "The Three Pillars of Zen" or "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind." I appreciate Joko's wariness of leading us astray with images of "enlightenment," which is so easily misunderstood as a thing we can achieve that will make our lives perfect at last, but sometimes I want more reminders than Joko offers that our life can be utterly transformed (while still being the same old, imperfect life).
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 10, 2007 9:31:44 PM PDT
A Reader says:
Excellent review.

Posted on Dec 30, 2009 12:57:35 PM PST
Ditto. Superb review. Deservedly in the "spotlight."
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