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Nothing Special Paperback – September 3, 1994

4.6 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Deep Wisdom; strong, clear, practical advice--wonderful common sense Zen." -- Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

"Joko Beck speaks from the timeless and the perennial, so her metaphors of ordinary things and everyday incidents illumine my mundane life. Nothing Special is Zen alive and how to live it." -- Robert Aitken, author of Taking the Path of Zen

About the Author

Charlotte Joko Beck, who passed away in 2011, was the founder and former head teacher at the Zen Center in San Diego.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 177 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (September 3, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062511173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062511171
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For years I was obsessed with Zen books. However, it wasn't until I came across Joko's books that I encountered the radical suggestion: OUR LIFE IS OUR PRACTICE!!! It was a real eye opener. I reread "Everyday Zen" three or four time in a row. My teachers in Rochester were pretty unimpressed; they thought that Joko was for people "who weren't ready for Zen." (One of them really did say that!) I thought otherwise; her work addressed the disconnect between a practice created for those in monasteries and the "self-centered dream" of our lives. It baffled me that people would be having "openings" in the Zendo and then treat their family like dirt after a retreat. She taught that working with our family "issues" (noticing our thoughts and resting in our physical experience) was not something separate from our practice on the cushions in the meditation hall. No duality.

I ended up working with Joko for about five years. She was (and is) every bit as remarkable in real life as she was in her book. There isn't a lot of drama in this practice. Our life becomes less of a soap opera and becomes more mundane. From that ordinariness emerge joy, compassion, love and all of the other aspects of our true nature. You might have fewer of the kind of lightening bolts of a traditional practice. Instead, you will have a grounded life that brings peace rather than pain into this world.
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Format: Paperback
I am a buddhist.I have read a single talk out of this book every night for over a year. These are concise dharma talks. Zen is pretty new to the US, and many of the traditional Zen stories have to do with monks having exotic experiences. It is easy to get caught in these dreams of 13th century Japan. Joko brings us back from our dreams of a far away practice to doing our dishes while the kids yell in our house in Denver. She offers a sober message of being just here. You wont find a heartwarming Hallmark message here. Joko is as direct and harsh as reality. It is no fun to follow the teachings back to our drab old smelly life, so don't look for the book to be a fun escape. It is the opposite -- which is why it is so good.
The book is comprised of a series of talks from Joko and some questions from her students. Joko is an American and so the message couched in the familiar language of our culture. IT is not like reading Dogen, and is more accessible. I would recommend this work to anyone who is serious about---well words escape me. It is not quie accurate to say that it is for those who are serious about taking the Zen path. But for anyone who wants to learn to be present with their real life, this offers solid guidance as much as words can.
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By A Customer on May 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is the best book on zen practice that I have ever read . . . and I've read many books on this subject! Beck demystifies the process of living a compassionate life. Other books on this subject have left me feeling baffled and inadequate. Beck's approach helped me find some clarity. I HIGHLY recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
"Nothing Special" is indeed something very special. You don't have to be a student of Zen or Buddhism of any sort to enjoy and learn from this book. Beck, with her pleasant style that feels like she wrote the book just for you, has much to teach. And yet at the same time, very little to teach, as it is all so simple in the end.
This book will give you lots to think about. The stories, the experiences, the questions and answers. They get your mind going, and they will open your eyes if you take Beck's words to heart. "Nothing Special" is all about living a full life. Not an easy life, not a 100% happy and pain-free life, but a full life.
Much of what you may get from this book, you'll find you already knew. But along the way you may discover that you've learned something beyond the mere words and ideas on the pages - that there is perhaps a better way of living, one that embraces the good and the bad. Living for the sake of living. "Living Zen".
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have the thoughtful people who recommended it to thank. Joko Beck's straightforward, no nonsense approach makes Zen practice a day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience that truly changes the way you see yourself and the world, but ONLY if you work diligently. I love the way she refuses to promise a blissful, enlightened life, yet engages you to strive for pure joy, whether happy OR sad. I am now looking forward to reading Everyday Zen!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Nothing Special" is paradoxically something very special. It is a simple and enjoyable read and yet gives much insight into the essence of Zen. I have read many Zen related books and this one stands out as one of the best. It would be valuable to those familiar with Zen and Buddhism, as a reminder that the very root of Zen is "nothing special" and is most often best kept uncomplicated. Even more, this is an excellent book for readers who are unfamiliar but curious about Zen practice and ideas, as the author has a gift for relating the concepts simply and without unnecessary dogma. The question and answer portion at the end of each chapter is also helpful, as her students ask many questions which the reader may have as well. Based upon my reading of her books, it is my opinion that Ms. Beck is one of the true Western Zen Masters. She is one of the few here in America who has managed to keep the Zen in Zen and still make it pallatable, practical, and practicable.
Parenthetically, her other books, "Everyday Zen", and "Now Zen" are equally worthwhile. "Now Zen" is a little compilation book and an absolute gem. It is the first book I would give to anyone who was interested in Zen or what is so special about Nothing.
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