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Zen Heart: Simple Advice for Living with Mindfulness and Compassion Hardcover – July 8, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Bayda writes with exceptional clarity and simplicity about the awakened life. His style is as plain spoken as Pema Chödrön's. He deserves membership in the ranks of respected meditation teacher-authors."—Publishers Weekly

"This book is like a personal retreat. I'd like to read it once a year. It has the best of the Zen spirit—not indulging but experiencing every ounce of life, good and bad. You will have to read closely, because the lessons are more difficult than they appear. At the same time it is a beautifully simple reflection on what it means to be, rather than to try to be. I'm certain of its wisdom because it is not there to be grasped and celebrated. The wisdom is all in the spaces, the pauses, and the wonderment."—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and A Life at Work 

"A clear and comprehensive guide to life transformation. Readers will find down-to-earth advice and effective practices for going beyond basic fears and conditioning to live a more awakened and openhearted life."—Dennis Genpo Merzel, Roshi, author of Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way

About the Author

Ezra Bayda teaches at Zen Center San Diego. He is also the author of Being Zen, At Home in the Muddy Water, Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts), and Zen Heart. For more information, visit www.zencentersandiego.org. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; First Edition edition (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590305434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590305430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph Siemion on September 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a pleasant surprise! A dharma book that's insightful, well-written, practical, and inspiring. When I picked up Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion, I wasn't expecting much. I'd read Ezra Bayda's other two books, so I pretty much knew what he had to say.

I was wrong. Ezra has much to say, most of it insightful and useful in the midst of our everyday lives. The book maps out the spiritual life in a new way and offers a plethora of practice ideas, pointers, and analysis. I feel like someone's handed me a treasure of useful tips that I can use for a lifetime or more. This is a book to come back to again in one or five or twenty years.

He breaks up the path into three stages: the Me-Phase, Being Awareness, and Being Kindness. Briefly, the Me-Phase is about becoming aware of our conditioned patterns of thought and action. Being Awareness is expanding our perspective in the wider container of awareness, the one mind, you could say, which is where Zen is normally concerned. Finally, Being Kindness is connecting with our true compassionate nature. All three are indispensable phases of the path.

In each phase, Ezra offers practical tips and advice to help us gain more understanding and awareness and urges us to remember that the point of all this is not to change ourselves, but rather to become aware of the manifold ways we cut ourselves off from this life. It's not as simple as just "being here now" as Eckhart Tolle might maintain. The ego is tricky, and a lot of the work to be done is psychological in nature.

This is where this book excels -- in giving us tools with which we can clue into the ego's antics, our own particular conditioning.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ah... If I'd only read the introduction to Zen Heart so many years ago---before I got trapped in all of these ideas about what spiritual practice and/or Buddhism, specifically, would "do" for me. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and disappointment.

I believe Ezra Bayda is among the most talented writers in the Buddhist canon. Bayda is especially good at no nonsense prose that gets right to the point. He is highly readable and informative---no small feat. Indeed, I think Bayda makes the rich teachings of Zen and the Buddha more alive, accessible and compelling than any contemporary author.

Zen Heart, to me, is Bayda's most fully realized and comprehensive effort--better than At Home in the Muddy Water. But it's still short and (bitter)sweet; after all, if you're coming to Zen in hopes that everything is life will be happily-ever-after, Bayda dispels that notion right on page 1. But I find that refreshing.

It's very easy to get lost in practice in spite of our best efforts or a great teacher. I find that, on the occasion, reading a book like helps me get unstuck; it's also a way of holding up a mirror and seeing one's self in the most unflattering (but ultimately helpful) way possible.

Bayda is often compared to Pema Chodron--Buddhism's rock star nun in Nova Scotia. But it's Bayda's work that I find more useful, more developed, more inspiring. This is a book, without question, that I would recommend to everyone--whatever your spiritual or religious persuasion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This delightful book by a San Diego-based teacher of Zen meditation emphasizes an important aspect of life that is not restricted to spiritual development. It is that we all need to be better at being present, but more than that, being present with attention. The idea is that if we fully embrace all the experiences that we encounter - even the painful ones - with clarity and objectivity, then they all become opportunities for learning and for growth. Although the concept is easy to understand, it is not necessarily easy to achieve. But as with so many things, regular practice helps enormously.

I am sure that the author is quite correct when he says that our natural drive to avoid pain can lead us to either deny or try to fix unpleasant experiences, rather than try to reside in the experience without attaching thoughts, emotions and judgments to them. Any experienced health care provider will have seen many people who have either stuffed unpleasant experiences or attempted to suppress them with medications, alcohol or other displacement activities. This is not a call for some kind of masochistic rumination on the hurts in our lives, but instead a practical way to uncouple them from the physical and emotional baggage that they can create if not dealt with. As an example he suggests that learning to "stay with" experiences and asking the simple question, "What is this?" can be transformative. Apart from the author's experience, there is now a body of empirical research to show that he is quite correct.

The book is well written, practical and insightful. It provides us with precise tools for dealing with daily life through mindfulness, and it includes terrific chapters on how to uncover some deeply held beliefs of which we might not even be aware.
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