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Spitting Out the Bones: A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey Paperback – November 15, 2016
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Jack Kornfield, author of Bringing Home the Dharma
“This book offers much hard-earned and valuable wisdom. His love of Zen and his maturity has transformed Zen into a practice of the heart.”
Jack Canfield, Motivational speaker and trainer, coauthor of “The Success Principles”:
“A vivid and inspiring reminder that growth and transformation on a large-scale or global level are inseparable from honest and sometimes painful reckoning of our flaws and failings on a personal level.”
Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality:
“A terrific book! I can’t think of a more important challenge the world faces right now than how to bring the wisdom of the great spiritual traditions into the modern and post-modern world. It’s one of the most urgent and far-reaching things we have to do, and this is a major step in that direction.”
Zen Master Nicolee Jikyo McMahon, Marriage and Family Therapist:
“A very important contribution to the convergence of deep spiritual practice and contemporary Western psychology, and a deeply honest, self-revealing account of a Western Zen teacher’s journey. As both a therapist and a Zen teacher, I highly recommend this book to anyone on the spiritual path, to therapists, and to all those interested in expanding their understanding of themselves and their lives.”
Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within:
“There’s a lot of meat and marrow here, as well as things which might stick in one’s throat. Ruination can be a true friend with benefits, as this candid story reveals. We who are imperfect can certainly sympathize and even identify with Genpo Roshi’s story and inner journey. If you want a deep slice of American Zen life, from a teacher’s point of view, with all its ups and downs, twists and turns ― beyond over-idealized images ― read this book.”
Hal & Sidra Stone, Creators of Voice Dialogue (from the Foreword):
“Absolutely riveting! Genpo Roshi is a master storyteller and a master teacher and this book is alive with his vitality. Its message, and his journey, are both timely and universal. Traditional religions, and their leaders, must now learn to help people go through their own personal transformational processes. Many new paths are opening ― many different journeys are becoming possible. Dennis Genpo Roshi has shown us his journey. Those who read this book can use his story to help them find their own paths.”
About the Author
Dennis Genpo Merzel trained under Zen Master Taizan Maezumi becoming a Zen teacher in 1980. He is one of a small group of Westerners recognized in both the Soto and Rinzai Zen traditions. In 1999, Genpo Roshi combined western psychology and Zen to create Big Mind, a self-discovery process that's been experienced by thousands of people across North America and Europe. His work is rooted in a deep appreciation of traditional Zen, which he has practiced and taught for over four decades, and his ongoing exploration of ways to integrate the wisdom and insights of both East and West into everyday life.
Top customer reviews
What is special about this book is that it reflects on these issues from a vulnerable first person perspective.
I have read many accounts on the issue of power in spiritual teacher/student relationships. However, most of them are written from the high horse: From a safe position of spiritual mastery “above it all” or from an even safer position of outsider critique. Rarely do we see a spiritual teacher taking
on the task of sharing their own painful experiences with being students and masters. Rarely do we take time to go further than judgement and begin to raise the difficult questions we all need to work with.
The book offers an account from the back stage of first generation western Zen practice where it seems cultural mixtures created slippery slopes, stakes were high and real people did get hurt. As we are all painfully aware by now, these issues have in no way been limited to the world of Zen. Similar dynamics have surfaced in the world of yoga, meditation, tantra, Buddhism, new age spirituality and many other practices where eastern traditions and their organisational models have been imported into western communities.
What I like the most about this book is that it offers so many good
questions rather than providing obvious answers. We already have plenty of answers in the spiritual world of how to avoid the abuse of power that is such a pertinent issue these days. But as suggested by the author, the traditional structures of ethical rules and systems of sanctioning have failed too often in providing the necessary safe space for spiritual practice. Merzel suggests that our spiritual communities may still need a lot of relational education and that a lot of collective work is ahead of us. He stresses the importance of this education especially for the spiritual teacher, not just in the beginning but all the way through mastry and beyond. It never ends.
In a time where so many spiritual communities are opening up to talk about old traumas (in court, in social media, in books, in movies) this book is a much needed account from the teachers perspective. We need to think more about power imbalances, about cultural differences, about sexuality, transference and counter transference. We need to care more about how we adapt traditional systems of organisation to modern western communities. We need teachers and students to freely share their painful experiences so we can keep learning. We need spiritual teachers willing to take on personal responsibility and work towards educating themselves and the generation of teachers to come. In order for all of this to be possible, we need vulnerability.
This book is a big step in that direction.
Most recent customer reviews
A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey
D. Genpo Merzel -- I really enjoyed this book. It has a beautiful flow and articulately expressed spiritual truths.Read more